20210604-LOC-Antrim Wind Filer

One of the Antrim Wind turbines is seen in this file photo over the beach at Gregg Lake in Antrim.

TransAlta, the company that owns Antrim Wind LLC, recently announced the completion of upgrades to the turbines’ lighting system.

People living in the vicinity of the turbines had complained that the radar-operated lights — which are meant to alert aircraft to the turbines’ presence — blinked far more frequently than necessary.

In a June 1 letter to Antrim’s town administrator and a N.H. Site Evaluation Committee member, TransAlta stated that Terma North America Inc., the manufacturer of the aircraft-detection lighting system, finished the upgrades May 31 and would provide the SEC with a report with details.

In emailed responses to questions from The Sentinel, TransAlta explained that the lighting system is installed on two separate towers, not on the turbines themselves. Because of the hilly terrain, leaf canopy and moving cars in the area, objects other than aircraft can trigger the system and turn on the lights. The recent upgrade is meant to reduce how often this happens.

Richard Block, who lives near the turbines, said he’s noticed a difference since the upgrade work has been completed.

“As of the last two nights, the lights have been off the way they’re supposed to,” he said.

Antrim Wind began operating in 2019 and consists of nine turbines that extend from Tuttle Hill to Willard Mountain. The wind facility is one of more than 20 that the Alberta-based TransAlta owns across Canada, Australia and the U.S.

Antrim Wind has long been a source of controversy, with opponents voicing concerns well before the facility was built about how the turbines might affect the aesthetic of the natural landscape. Today, the facility triggers complaints about noise and light.

The N.H. Site Evaluation Committee granted Antrim Wind its certificate of site and facility, which is required by statute. On April 2, the SEC created a subcommittee to — among other tasks — investigate complaints filed against Antrim Wind and determine whether the facility is in compliance with the requirements and conditions outlined by the certificate.

If residents still feel the lighting system is not functioning properly, they have until Dec. 31 to file complaints to the investigatory subcommittee, the panel’s counsel, John-Mark Turner, wrote in an email. The subcommittee will also be holding a public meeting on June 17 to discuss noise complaints, according to an outline of the group’s goals and timeline for the investigation.

Molly Bolan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or mbolan@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @BolanMolly.