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Wind farm project OK'd for Antrim

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

December 15. 2016 1:00AM


An opponent of a proposed Antrim wind farm that received state approval this week won’t rule out going to court to block the project.

The state’s Site Evaluation Committee approved the nine-turbine wind farm after rejecting a slightly larger project in 2013.

The $65 million Antrim Wind project should produce enough electricity to power 12,300 homes when becomes operational, expected to be in late 2017, company officials said earlier this year.

The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative signed on as the first power buyer, agreeing to purchase 25 percent of the wind farm’s output.

But project opponents can still try to block the project, first asking the committee to reconsider its decision once a written report gets issued.

“The only other option is to go to court,” said Lisa Linowes, executive director of The WindAction Group, an intervener in the case that has the right to ask for reconsideration or pursue the matter in court.

“Too soon to say,” Linowes said about a court fight. “There is a real concern that the rules were not followed.”

Officials with Walden Green Energy, Antrim’s parent, weren’t available for comment on their project Wednesday.

The approved project was filed in October 2015, proposing nine turbines rather than the 10 proposed in the earlier project.

In 2013, Michael Iacopino, attorney for the Site Evaluation Committee, said the committee “decided the project would cause an adverse effect to the aesthetics of the area primarily because of the visual impact.”

Governor-elect Chris Sununu looks forward to working with regulators “to review the details of the project and consider its social, environmental and financial impacts,” said his spokesman, David Abrams. “He remains committed to implementing valuable projects that contribute to a broad renewable energy portfolio for New Hampshire.”

Pamela Monroe, administrator for the Site Evaluation Committee, said the committee spent three days reviewing “their analysis of the evidence and rules” before voting 5-1 to grant a certificate of site and facility to Antrim Wind.

Approving the project won’t necessarily prompt a flood of new projects to come before the committee.

“Every one stands on its own,” she said. “There’s a provision in the law that basically says that there is no necessary precedential value in prior decisions.”

Monroe said there are no other wind projects currently before the committee.

Linowes said there are four wind farms operating in New Hampshire — in Groton, Lempster, Berlin, and a fourth in Millsfield and Dixville.

The Antrim project is expected to generate 28.8 megawatts of power from the turbines south of Route 9 in northwestern Antrim. The turbines are on private property, between Tuttle Hill and the north flank of Willard Mountain.

“The project is too close” to homes and animal habitat, Linowes said.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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