State Senators, Rep chastise SEC

Stone Bridge Post|Michael Pon|February 20, 2021
New HampshireImpact on PeopleNoise

New Hampshire State Senators Jeb Bradley, Bob Giuda and Ruth Ward, as well as Rep. Michael Vose sent a letter to the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) on Jan. 29 pointing out that the Committee has been sidelining public complaints about noise the Antrim Wind Energy turbines make in the Antrim area.

Antrim turbines, residents making noise committee doesn’t want to hear

New Hampshire State Senators Jeb Bradley, Bob Giuda and Ruth Ward, as well as Rep. Michael Vose sent a letter to the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) on Jan. 29 pointing out that the Committee has been sidelining public complaints about noise the Antrim Wind Energy turbines make in the Antrim area.

Much of the dispute has to do with a Nov. 23 meeting at which the public’s concerns were on the agenda to be heard. However, the SEC did not notice the public nor the Antrim selectmen on the service list for the Antrim Wind case. Therefore, neither the public’s complaints, nor the selectmen’s input was heard, because they were not aware of the meeting. 

The Nov 23 meeting was a follow-up to a July 29 meeting at which disputed matters, complaints made by Antrim residents living in the area of the turbines, were made. But the legislators pointed out in their letter to the SEC that “no effort was made to inform the Antrim Wind service list. Consequently, numerous interested parties who attended in July, including the Antrim Selectboard, did not attend in November. . . . Surely you must have wondered why a public that was so anxious to be heard just a few months before had now gone silent?”

One decision made at the Nov. 23 meeting was to accept a report submitted by Antrim Wind showing the facility was operating in compliance with the SEC’s noise limits. But the noise measurements were based on a disputed interpretation of the SEC rule on sound monitoring. 

Antrim resident Richard Block points out that Antrim Wind’s turbine noise level test averaged recorded sound levels over one 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.

Another report independently conducted by Rand Acoustics, LLC was made from Feb. 19 to Feb. 23, 2020 on the property of Barbara Berwick at 72 Carr Road. In part, it reads: “During the survey period, Ms. Berwick reported two noise complaints. Post-analysis confirmed that both complaints were from Antrim Wind turbine noise.
This was corroborated by audio recordings. In each case the recorded Project noise levels exceeded the nighttime noise limit of 40-dBA Leq0.125 second as defined in the Site Evaluation Committee rules.”

“We filed the Rand report on Sep. 23 and never received any response from the SEC other than the document being posted to the SEC website. It was our intent to address the report at the next meeting which ended up being the Nov. 23 meeting. There is no point in the transcript from Nov. 23 where the report is referenced by the Committee but it would have been raised as part of 1.c of the agenda,” noted Lisa Linowes, an intervener in the case and Executive Director of WindAction Group.

 In regards to that decision, the Senators and Rep. Vose made the following remarks in their Jan. 29 letter: “. . . the Committee took a decision at the meeting after having heard from only one side of a disputed matter. This is astonishing, and frankly inexcusable. Every effort should have been made to ensure the public was notified and heard, particularly during this period of COVID-19 lockdowns.”

On Jan. 5, Linowes, Berwick and intervener Janice Longgood filed a Motion for Rehearing the decision to accept the disputed Antrim Wind report, considering they were not noticed.

The SEC has not responded to their Motion for Rehearing. 

However, Antrim Wind Energy LLC has filed an Objection to Motion for Rehearing. 

The Senators and Rep Vose also complained that the SEC Administrator has been given broad authority to determine whether the facility is operating in compliance with
its SEC permit. Specifically, the legislators raised concerns “that decisions of the Administrator can be made unilaterally, without a hearing, public deliberation, or apparent opportunity for appeal. We believe this is unprecedented in the State of New Hampshire and contrary to the legislative intent of SB 245.”

Senate Bill 245 was, according to their letter, enacted in 2014 and was “intended to increase the public’s trust in, and accessibility to the Site Evaluation Committee process.” 

Antrim residents living near the project repeatedly filed complaints about turbine noise and flashing lights with the former SEC Administrator, Pam Monroe, only to  have their concerns partially addressed or dismissed entirely without the ability to be heard by the SEC.

“Administrator Monroe’s role was to facilitate public access to the SEC,” said Block. “Instead she became a gatekeeper and frustrated our ability to be heard.”

Currently, there is no Administrator, so the SEC must respond directly to any inquiries. 

The Senators and Rep Vose concluded their letter by saying, “it is our hope that the Committee will take the reasonable step of calling another meeting and voting to reconsider its actions of Nov. 23. The record on the Committee’s website for Antrim Wind shows that the public has waited patiently for nearly a year to present its case to the Committee.”

The alternative, they say, would be a costly, drawn out appeal process.


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