New Hampshire Residents File Suit Against Wind Farm Regulatory Agency

By Alice Giordano
Alice Giordano
Alice Giordano
Alice Giordano is a former news correspondent for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and New England bureau of The New York Times.
June 3, 2022 Updated: June 5, 2022

A group of New Hampshire residents has filed for a court injunction against the state agency in charge of regulating wind farms, alleging it deliberately misinterpreted the law in order to green-light a permit for one of the largest operators  in the United States.

Neighbors of Antrim Wind Energy Turbines allege that the state Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) failed to properly apply regulations to a 1,700-acre wind farm built in their heavily-forested neighborhood by TransAlta.

The results, they allege, have left them subject to excessive and harmful noise levels.

“The SEC ‘resolved’ the Antrim noise problem by unilaterally voting to change its interpretation of the noise rule in violation of state law,” the group said in a statement announcing its court action on June 2.

“In doing so, the SEC members condemned their fellow citizens to live with dominant turbine whoosh-whumps while granting international energy giant, TransAlta, who owns Antrim Wind, the opportunity to self regulate noise levels produced by its turbines.”

Epoch Times Photo
Antrim Wind’s owners are not commenting on local residents’ complaints about noise levels from their 1,700 acre New Hampshire site. Pictured are giant wind turbines near Palm Springs, California, in 2008. (David McNew/Getty Images)

According to the complaint, the wind farm is producing nighttime noise levels that are at least 40 decibels over the maximum allowed under state law.

The residents hired their own noise engineer after SEC allowed TransAlta to use an average noise level from a 5-minute interval taken within a one-hour period instead of basing its review on peak noise levels, as required by state law.

“Every time one of the blades passes by its station, it spikes over 52 decibels then goes back down and then back up again,” said Lisa Linowes whose property abuts the wind farm. “Rapid succession of noise going up and down is very hard to adapt to.”

Neither the SEC nor TransAlta responded to inquiries by The Epoch Times about the group’s complaint.

Shelly Ivey, who also abuts the Antrim wind farm, called the turbines “War of the World monstrosities” and an “outrageous abuse of natural habitat.”

Barbara Berwick, a longtime Antrim resident, said before the turbines were constructed, she used to enjoy keeping her windows open and listening to “the peepers” and “sounds of nature.”

Now during the summer, she keeps her windows shut and her TV on to drown out the noise.

She and the others said they were especially frustrated with the noise because the energy produced by the NH wind farm is sold to Massachusetts and has no benefit to the community.

Last year, the New Hampshire attorney general called out the SEC for failing to require TransAlta to comply with the state’s mandatory aircraft warning light system on its turbines.

According to a letter the attorney general’s office sent to the committee, the Aircraft Detection Lighting System (ALDS)  is to be strictly radar-activated, but instead stays on for long periods of time—exposing residents to a heavy stream of bright red glowing lights.

The SEC responded by saying it would investigate the matter, but offered no explanation for why it didn’t include the state requirement as part of its conditions for approval of the wind farm.

TransAlta issued a statement blaming the problem on what it called the “unique location” of the Antrim Wind Farm.

“The surface is not flat and this introduces challenges for the ADLS system to detect air traffic without any errors given the heavy presence of trees, leaf canopy and the car traffic,” the company said.

Lori Lerner, founder of the New Hampshire Wind Watch, told The Epoch Times that she believes the government is doing whatever it “takes” to push windmill farms down “the throats” of residents.

She is concerned that the SEC’s ruling—deliberate or not—will set precedence for the allowance of similar excessive noise levels at other wind farms being built around the state.

The New Hampshire case is the latest in a growing number of lawsuits filed against wind farms.

They have already been filed in response to the recent record-breaking $4 billion lease deal President Joe Biden’s administration sealed for a wind farm along Long Island Sound.

Alice Giordano is a former news correspondent for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and New England bureau of The New York Times.