When the Antrim Wind project was in its permitting process, it committed to using radar-activated lighting to minimize the turbine’s nighttime visual impact. However, after residents lodged complaints that the lights aren’t shutting off when they’re supposed to, Antrim Wind Energy LLC claimed that ensuring a functioning lighting system isn’t part of their contract.
The state Attorney General’s office highlighted the power company’s stance and its implications in a letter to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) last week. The SEC is investigating a series of complaints related to the turbines.
Although local residents have complained about noise from the turbines since they went online at the end of 2019, they’ve also complained that the aircraft detection lighting system hasn’t worked correctly since its installation, as previously reported. The red lights blink on and off frequently, rather than exclusively activating when an aircraft approaches.
The Attorney General’s office dug into the power company’s testimony and compared it to their certificate of operation, determining that the wind company is denying responsibility for maintaining the lights even though properly functioning aircraft-activated lights were a fundamental condition of the wind project’s approval.
“Antrim Wind appears to argue that, although it is working in good faith to ensure a functioning ADLS, these efforts are essentially gratuitous,” Senior Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau Allen Brooks wrote in the analysis. “if this position is accepted, Antrim Wind is under no obligation to ever properly run the ADLS.”
Brooks cited written testimony Antrim Wind sent to the SEC on May 18: “Antrim Wind has fully complied with its Certificate,” Antrim Wind wrote, arguing that it was only ever required to file the FAA approval of the site’s ADLS and abide by the FAA’s Determinations of No Hazard to Air Navigation, conditions which the company has met.
The SEC conducted a shallower analysis of the site’s nighttime lighting visual impacts during the approval process specifically because they believed Antrim Wind would be operating a functioning radar activated lighting system, Brooks wrote, reminding the SEC that they’re capable of determining an “appropriate outcome” for the situation.
“The SEC did not solicit our opinion but, by statute, the NH DOJ serves as Counsel for the Public in SEC matters and has participated in the permitting of this facility since the first petition for jurisdiction in 2011,” Brooks said. “As Counsel for the Public, we represent the public-at-large but we also provide information that we believe will assist the SEC. This letter was meant to provide this type of assistance and to ensure that the interests of the public are represented.”
The SEC subcommittee tasked with investigating Antrim Wind complaints are due to deliver a quarterly report by June 1, as previously reported.
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