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Rejected Once, Regulators To Decide Whether to Again Consider Antrim Wind Farm

Sam Evans-Brown

A wind farm that was rejected by a state panel in 2013 is asking for a re-hearing.

Antrim Wind is asking state regulators this week to take ultimate authority over whether the wind-farm gets built. Portsmouth-based Eolian Renewable Energy it has eliminated one turbine and shrunk a second from its initial 10-turbine proposal, and the new project is different enough that it should get a second hearing before the state.

While the local board of selectman is in favor of the wind farm, the project faces from opposition from abutters and New Hampshire Audubon, which owns the Willard Pond Sanctuary.

The chair of the Antrim board of selectmen, Gordon Webber – who favors the proposal – says the changes were made to address concerns over visual impact that led the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to reject the project.

“Is it a big enough change for the SEC to reverse their decision? Well that’s the million dollar question,” he says

This doesn’t address one big factor weighing against the wind-farm: its proximity to a huge tract of conserved recreation land that has been dubbed a “super-sanctuary.” The area consists of a patchwork of over 22,000 acres of conserved land, including the 1,200 acre Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary owned by New Hampshire Audubon.

Kathy Grady of Peterborough was kayaking with her husband on Willard Pond last week, and says she doesn’t like the idea. “I don’t know the other side of it enough, I just know that my gut feeling now is… don’t do it,” she explained.

The question before regulators this week is merely whether the state or the town has jurisdiction over whether the project gets built. The facility’s supporters want the state to make the decision, because the town has no local ordinance that governs wind farms. 

**Note: An earlier version of this story stated that the local planning board was in favor of the wind farm. The planning board favors the state taking jurisdiction, but has taken no position on the wind farm proposal itself**

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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