ANTRIM — The controversy that has long dogged Antrim Wind Energy continues, with a number of people who live near the site raising concerns about the amount of noise produced there.
On Wednesday, the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee held a virtual meeting during which members heard comments from neighbors of the facility. They said the wind farm, a nine-turbine facility that went into service on Dec. 24, 2019, has been a significant detriment to their quality of life.
The Site Evaluation Committee is a regulatory body formed by the N.H. Legislature tasked with approving and monitoring energy facilities in the state.
Amanda Buco, who said the wind turbines are behind her home, said the sound hasn’t been so bad recently. But back in May, she complained to the committee because at the time, she said, the noise was “extremely loud.”
She also questioned the methods being used to investigate noise complaints, saying that evaluations are being done when the turbines aren’t at maximum volume.
“When I complained, the windmills were roaring loud, keeping my husband awake; he has to wake up early for work in the morning,” Buco said. “And my children have been scared because of how loud the noises [get] at night, and it terrifies them. So I guess I’m just saying I would like a method that validates our complaints truly, because what was done isn’t accurate.”
The turbines were constructed on a ridgeline extending southwest from Tuttle Hill to Willard Mountain. According to the project application, the wind farm was expected to produce enough energy to power 12,000 homes. The project is owned by the Alberta-based TransAlta, which operates more than 20 wind farms and 900 turbines across Canada, Australia and the U.S.
The wind farm, which was in the works for more than a decade, has drawn fierce opposition since its inception. In addition to worries about the noise, opponents have expressed concern about potential impacts to the ecosystem, disruption of surrounding scenery and the possibility that the facility would lower property values.
A number of these concerns were addressed as conditions in the project’s site and facility certificate, granted by the committee, which included a stipulation requiring the wind farm to retain a noise expert to help prevent or mitigate sound pollution.
Buco was far from the only person at last week’s meeting to express concerns about noise. A number of others who live in the area also spoke, and people have filed similar complaints with the committee, which can be found on the docket for the project.
On July 20, Antrim resident Erin Morrison submitted an email with a video attached in which a whirring sound can be heard.
“This is incredibly disruptive to my workday and life in general,” she wrote. “My neighbors and many others fought against the installation of these turbines and they were right to do so. The turbines have been nothing but a constant headache and source of stress for those made to endure their intolerable noise. It must stop.”
On June 29, a complaint was filed by Antrim resident Barbara Berwick, who echoed Buco’s concerns about the protocols being used to determine whether the conditions of the wind farm’s site and facility certificate had been violated.
“One of the reasons that many members of the SEC commission felt ‘reassured’ about voting in favor of [Antrim Wind] constructing the wind turbines, was the very fact that homeowners would be protected by these protocols,” Berwick wrote.
According to Pamela Monroe, administrator for the Site Evaluation Committee, the committee on Wednesday approved a request to retain expert technical support to review a post-construction sound-monitoring report.
Monroe said the committee also voted to delegate responsibility to investigate noise complaints to her, and that she will make a preliminary determination regarding whether there have been any violations.
During the meeting, attorney Thomas Getz of McLane Middleton spoke on behalf of Antrim Wind Energy. He said the company had no objections to the request to work with an expert to review the company’s winter 2020 sound-monitoring report.
Getz also referenced a letter the committee sent to state Sens. Ruth Ward, R-Stoddard, and Robert Giuda, R-Warren, and Rep. Michael Vose, R-Epping, on June 15 that included an outline of amended protocols for monitoring noise at the site. He said Antrim Wind Energy agrees with the modifications but would not be in favor of any additional changes.