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NH wind application incomplete; delay bid denied

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RIK STEVENS | January 15, 2014 10:16 AM EST | AP

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire panel considering a wind power project has determined the application is incomplete and sent it back to project backers for more information.

In the order issued late Monday, the Site Evaluation Committee also denied a bid by an environmental group to delay the 23-turbine Wild Meadows project in Danbury and Alexandria until new siting regulations are completed next year.

Wild Meadows is a project of energy giant Iberdrola Renewables, which also operates a similar wind farm in Lempster and is bringing a 24-unit farm online in Groton.

Iberdrola has 10 days to update the application.

"The SEC application and permit process is very detailed and quite comprehensive," Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said in an emailed statement. "We will work rapidly to address the issues the SEC has raised."

The SEC sent the application to several state agencies that found the application failed to:

— Include enough information about the effect the project would have on historical resources and did not include an archaeological survey.

— Identify a qualified holder for a proposed conservation easement on land known as the "Patten Brook parcel."

— Recognize the state fire marshal as the agency with jurisdiction over regulating the plant.

The SEC's co-chair also independently found the application was incomplete because it didn't include results of an ongoing study to determine the risk to bird and bats and does not clearly identify the legal owner of the wind plant and parcels touched by it.

The SEC also denied a motion by the Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests that would have put the review on hold until new siting regulations are adopted. Last year, the New Hampshire Legislature ordered the state's Office of Energy and Planning to review the SEC's siting process, which had been criticized as outdated. New administrative rules are to be adopted no later than Jan. 1, 2015.

The SEC said it could find no public interest in delaying the review.

Jack Savage, a spokesman for the forest society, said the group is reviewing the order.

"Our goal is to see that the state adopts comprehensive siting criteria not just for wind but for all new energy facilities and find a better way to incorporate local input into SEC decision making," he said.