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Antrim wind project: Developer offers to eliminate 1 turbine

Union Leader Correspondent

June 04. 2013 10:29PM

ANTRIM — In a bid to have its wind farm proposal reheard by the state, Antrim Wind Energy LLC is offering to eliminate the turbine closest to Willard Pond — one of 10 proposed for the Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain ridge lines.

In addition, the town has been asked to manage a conservation easement of 105 acres that would be part of the wind farm. The town is holding two public hearings — June 10 and June 24 in the Antrim Town Hall at 7 p.m. — on the matter. A new tax agreement between the town and Antrim Wind will also be discussed at the June 24 hearing.

In February, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee denied an application for the 30-mega-watt capacity project of ten, 492-foot tall wind turbines along ridgelines, saying the aesthetic impact to the surrounding conservation and open land would be too great.

In its motion for a rehearing Monday, Antrim Wind Energy named the conservation easement as one of several new plans proposed to address the aesthetics issues.

Antrim Wind also pointed to the town’s recent acceptance of $40,000 to address visual impacts to Gregg Lake.

Richard Block belongs to a group of residents who filed an objection to the motion for rehearing requested by the town, Antrim Wind Energy and those leasing land for the project.

Block said placing the 100 acres under a town-governed easement would do little to protect the site.

“This is right in the middle of the Monadnock superior sanctuary and they are talking about a few hundred acres that is not really going to be preserved,” Block said. “How can it be wild and undeveloped after they blast the ridge line away?”

Block was also unimpressed by the offer to take away one of the 10 turbines.

“For them to remove one turbine from the end does not change the other nine,” Block said. “The town of Antrim is small. The valleys here are small. The hills are small and they were proposing to put the largest wind turbines in the state here in Antrim.”

Selectman Gordon Webber said Antrim Wind purchased the conservation easement of 105 acres on Tuttle Hill from the Bean Family at $250 an acre.

The 105 acres bridge a gap between several other open space parcels, owned by Michael J.H. Ott, Antrim Limited Partnership, Steve R. Cotran, Paul J. Whittemore and Whittemore Trust.

The Harris Center has agreed to hold the conservation easements on the other parcels.

Altogether, there would be 908 acres of conserved land across Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain, Webber said.

“The entire wind project facility would be under conservation easements,” Webber said.

Webber said a proposed tax agreement between the town to be presented at the June 24 public hearing would take into account the possible change in mega-watt capacity, since it would pay the town based on energy produced, not on the value of the facility.

That could be anywhere between $50 and $70 million, Webber said.

Over 20 years, the proposed agreement for a 30-mega-watt facility would generate about $8 million for the town, he said.

Last month, the PILOT or payment in lieu of taxes agreement between the town and Antrim Wind LLC was voided by a Hillsborough Superior Court judge, who ruled the agreement had been created during illegal non-public meetings between the town and Antrim Wind.

The board met with Antrim Wind Monday night and made changes to the voided agreement; it plans to present the new agreement June 24. Antrim Wind Energy is a subsidiary of Portsmouth-based Eolian Renewable Energy.

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