Proponents of a nine-turbine wind project in Antrim are cheering after a state committee denied three separate motions requesting it to reconsider its 2016 project approval.
The state’s attorney general, residents who oppose the project, and meteorological intervenors all filed appeals against the approval of Antrim Wind Energy, which was made in December.
Each of the appeals pointed to dozens of reasons why the project should not move forward, the most notable being that the committee broke its own rules by approving the project. The committee recently went through an extensive rule-review process. Antrim Wind was the first one it heard under the new standards.
“I am very disappointed in the SEC’s decision to deny the motion for rehearing,” said Lori Lerner, president of New Hampshire Wind Watch.
Antrim Wind has long been looked at as a trial case that could predict how future wind projects could fare across the state. After Friday’s decision, Lerner said it’s still too early to tell if the process is a nod to future decisions.
Jack Kenworthy, head of development at Walden Green Energy, said the committee combed through each of the three motions one at a time during Friday’s hearing as a way to evaluate whether or not any of the arguments were strong enough to grant a rehearing.
“They carefully and thoughtfully addressed each of the arguments,” Kenworthy said about the process, adding there were about 30 arguments the committee sifted through during the hearing, which took about two and a half to three hours to complete.
Afterward, Kenworthy said, the committee immediately lifted a suspension it had placed on the energy company after the meteorological intervenors filed their appeal. He said the company didn’t feel the effect of that suspension, but could have if it had remained in place.
Opponents of the project can take the case to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, although groups say they are waiting for the written ruling to be issued before any decision is made regarding the matter. Once the document is issued, parties will have 30 days to decide if they want to appeal the case to the state’s highest court.
Kenworthy said the company is aware that certain parties can appeal the decision to the supreme court.
“As we look at that issues that arose on Friday, we don’t think any of the issues brought up are cause for a rehearing or would alter the committee’s decision,” Kenworthy said.
In the meantime, the company is working to finalize contracts, and is planning to take geotechnical borings on foundational sites as next steps. The company plans to start on-site construction in October, with a Dec. 31, 2018 commercial operation target date. Those dates are subject to change depending on a number of scenarios that could play out.