ANTRIM — An alternative energy company is getting another chance to put forth a wind farm proposal after a state agency gained jurisdiction over the approval process.
The company, Antrim Wind Energy, is proposing the installation of nine turbines on Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain that would generate 28.8 megawatts of electricity. The project is smaller than the 10-wind-turbine, 30-megawatt facility the company proposed in 2011.
The N.H. State Evaluation Committee rejected the company’s initial proposal in 2012 on the grounds that it would blemish the look of the surrounding natural area.
That plan called to build nearly 500-foot tall wind turbines on land in Antrim. That proposal was met with opposition and concerns about the farm’s proximity to 22,000 acres of conserved recreation land, including the 1,200-acre Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. Opponents, which included several non-abutting property owners and the WindAction Group, were also concerned about the affect the project could have on the view in the area.
Antrim Wind Energy has until Jan. 24, 2016, to submit its next full application to the committee, which will have the final say on whether the farm can be built and, if so, what mitigation might be required.
Portsmouth-based Eolian Renewable Energy is one of the owners and developers of the project.
John B. “Jack” Kenworthy, chief executive officer of Eolian Renewable Energy, said Thursday that he and others involved in the Antrim Wind project are pleased that the Site Evaluation Committee will have jurisdiction of the project.
Antrim Wind officials won’t have any problems getting the project’s complete application filed by the January deadline, he said. They believe the changes made have addressed the concerns with the aesthetics of the project.
“I think the project always had good things going for it. Now it’s even better,” he said. “We’ve had a very supportive town that has supported us for six years. We appreciate that. We believe we can construct and operate a project here that is good for New Hampshire and good for the town of Antrim with all the clean energy and economic development opportunities it will bring.”
Despite the town’s support, noted by Kenworthy, Antrim’s selectmen and planning board requested in November 2014 that the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee have jurisdiction over the process of approving the project from the beginning, saying they didn’t have a protocol or resources to review large-scale wind facilities.
The filing from town officials came after Antrim Wind revised its plan for the project to include the elimination of the tower close by and visible from Willard Pond, shortening the next-closest tower by about 46 feet, and using more powerful, but quieter turbines allowing the farm to generate nearly 29 megawatts of electricity, based on background information in the order issued Thursday by the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee.
In addition, the new plan would also increase conservation land around the wind turbines by 100 acres, involve a one-time payment of $40,000 to the town of Antrim to enhance the Gregg Lake Recreational Area, a payment in lieu of taxes agreement providing revenue to the town for the first 20 years of the project’s life, and a $100,000 land conversation funding agreement with the New England Forestry Foundation for it to acquire new conservation lands in the region.
A subcommittee of that Site Evaluation Committee voted 5 to 2 in July for the full committee to take jurisdiction of the proposed wind farm. They issued a written decision affirming the vote Thursday.
And so, the process begins anew for Antrim Wind, which has spent several years trying to get approval for this project.
Committee members wrote in their order that “whether the differences in the proposals are material enough to require a different result ...cannot be determined” at this early stage. They said they need to closely review the application once it’s submitted.
Pamela G. Monroe, administrator for the Site Evaluation Committee, said this morning that parties and invervenors on the Antrim Wind docket wanting to appeal the decision have 30 days to do so from the date of the written order