Several months ago, the Antrim selectmen participated in a listening session in which Antrim residents who live nearby the wind turbines erected by Antrim Wind Energy (AWE) and taken over by TransAlta, a Canadian company, complained of noise the turbines made. The residents believe that the level of noise does not comply with the standards described in the order the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) set forward in the Conditions of AWE’s Certificate.
That listening session occurred at the end of July. The selectmen wrote to the SEC in August, asking that they be allowed to offer comment as a result of listening to the complaints. They also stated the following:
“What we would respectfully ask is that all noise measurements taken and any third-party compliance review be completed only in accordance with existing SEC rules and AWE’s Certificate of Site and Facility. There should not be any different standards applied. Providing SEC rules and the Conditions of the approved Certificate are followed, the determination of whether AWE’s resulting noise measurement are compliant or not should be easily ascertained by an independent third party.”
However, when the SEC scheduled a public meeting to take place on November 23, 2020, the SEC did not directly notice either the selectmen or those Antrim residents who made the complaints. Rather, they only put a notice on the SEC website on November 17 noticing the public meeting on November 23. However the SEC has a long list of email addresses from interested parties collected over the years they could easily have used to send out notice of the meeting to, which are listed on the original SEC docket #2015-02 distribution list for the project to keep interested parties informed.
“I am not aware of any meeting notice to the town. Does not being properly noticed mean it must be held again? If I had known, I would have attended the Zoom meeting as we at the town did previously,” selectman Bob Edwards responded by email on December 23 to an Antrim resident who queried him as to whether he had been noticed directly.
What Antrim residents who complained of turbine noise levels are especially upset about is that the SEC, at this meeting that they missed due to it not being directly noticed to them, adopted a report that they believe is not acceptable under the SEC’s own rules regarding the Conditions of the AWE Certificate.
When Lisa Linowes, who has been an intervenor in the AWE project since 2015, and in many other wind turbine projects around the state, contacted attorney Mike Iacopino, who represents the SEC, about the meeting, he referred to the meeting notice on the SEC site posted on November 17, and made the following comments to intervenor Linowes on December 17.
“The Committee (SEC) received and accepted the Acentech sound monitoring report and Mr. Tocci’s peer review. The noise complaints were scheduled… But due to time constraints of the Committee that matter was not reached….. It is my understanding that the Committee intends to reconvene to address the noise complaint issue that was not reached. But a date has not yet been determined,” Ioacopino informed Linowes.
Tocci was the third-party reviewer of the Acentech report Antrim residents question.
Antrim resident Richard Block points out that the Acentech turbine noise level test only recorded sound levels once an hour, whereas his understanding of the SEC rule is that testing should record sound levels eight times every second. This way the testing includes the peaks and valleys of the sound levels.
So, to summarize, the Town of Antrim was not directly notified of the meeting, those making the complaints were not directly notified, no transcript of what took place in the November 23 meeting – now a month ago – has been made available, and no meeting to consider the complaints has been scheduled as of yet.
“Since we do not have a transcript of the November 23 meeting there is no information about what was discussed or whether there were any deliberations regarding the disputed rule,” Linowes summarized.
Antrim residents who have complained about the noise levels the turbines produce are notably upset by this series of events.
Block made the following statement in an email on December 17: What “is this about a ‘noticed’ meeting on 11/23? I finally found a notice posted on 11/17 on the SEC web site, but it does not appear to have been sent out to any distribution list – I sure as hell never received any notice. It appears that in the eyes of the SEC, the residents of Antrim are no longer part of the equation. Ask me if I’m surprised.”
Also in the December 17 thread, Antrim resident and turbine neighbor Barbara Berwick wrote: “No, no notice, but let’s face it, it has always been this way. All that time we invested in the [2015–16 proceedings and adjudicative] hearing was nothing but a sham, a waste of our time and energy, just to pretend there was some sort of judicial fairness involved. It had already been decided before hearing one single thing… All the rules and regulations are a farce too. Money talks.”
Linowes observed in the same email thread: “This is a stunning action on the part of the SEC that harms all parties both adjacent to the Antrim turbines and statewide. By virtue of accepting the Acentech and Tocci reports based on a disputed interpretation of the SEC rule for noise compliance, the Committee (SEC) has adopted the disputed interpretation of the rule. In effect, the SEC negated two years of rule-making and shattered any noise protection that was in place. The order from the November 23 meeting has not been issued. There is the opportunity to ask for a rehearing in order to at least preserve any right to appeal.”
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