Library from Maine
Voters will decide on a wind energy moratorium at their March 7 town meeting. The moratorium would give the town time to prepare an ordinance to cover any potential development of wind farm projects. A committee of about a dozen residents formed Monday to discuss how to handle potential future projects in a way that best protects the town.
"I want to encourage the town to make it a little stricter and adapt a 30-decibel limit," Knapp said. He cited the examples of noise complaints at Mars Hill and Vinalhaven's wind power turbine projects. And, he noted that the town of Phillips, which passed at last town meeting a comprehensive wind power zoning ordinance that, in part, was guided by a sound engineer's study and advice, has a noise limit set at 25 decibels."
When the Friends of Spruce Mountain saw their appeal to the Spruce Mountain Wind Project denied last week, the group's lawyer also presented a proposed amendment to Maine's noise rules in the state's Site Location Law. The result of a petition effort by the Maine-based Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power, the amendment would have the Maine Department of Environmental Protection apply different standards to wind turbine noise than to other industrial noise.
"One has to wonder if this was a truly nonpartisan independent group that was working on behalf of lowering energy costs," said Levinthal, "or if this was a political vehicle for the Democratic Party. "If an organization such as this is stacked with people who are clearly very active in one party and members of a certain party, you might be scratching your head if you're a Republican or independent as well."
Rufus Brown said it wasn't enough to let potentially problematic turbines be built before dealing with the consequences. He took offense to Smith's assertion that it was unfair to submit Patriot to another hearing. "That is exactly upside-down," Brown said. "It is fundamentally unfair to the people in this neighborhood to this project ... when there are so many uncertainties."
Brooksville voters enacted two energy-related ordinances in a special town meeting on January 27. The meeting lasted less than 20 minutes. The first ordinance established a 180-day moratorium on wind power development. The second authorized residents to participate in a federal/state loan program to finance energy efficiency improvements to their buildings.
Those appealing the wind project claim that such a project would have adverse affects on the area's economy, particularly as it relates to tourism. The appeal also lists objections to noise, shadow flicker, strobe lights, tree removal, potential dangers to birds and animals and a variety of other possible problems. This project is one of four Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., is planning for the Western Maine area.
On Monday night, selectmen voted to reject a new, lower value for a commercial wind project, in effect declining the developer's request to reduce the value of its property by $1.4 million. If the developer, Beaver Ridge Wind LLC, wishes to pursue the issue further, it may have to file an appeal with Waldo County Commissioners or the State Board of Property Tax Review.
For people who believe one of Maine's highest conservation priorities should be the preservation of the state's unorganized territories as the timberlands and outdoor-recreational lands they have traditionally been - and I count myself among those people - the greatest threat to the North Woods is large-scale development of any kind.
The town of Freedom is seeking an independent appraisal of the three-turbine Beaver Ridge Wind development following a request from the owner to have them reassessed at a lower value. Freedom - Two years after the wind turbines on Beaver Ridge in Freedom started turning, the often-controversial development is raising objections again - this time from the developer.
"The whole thing blew up," said Sen. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, who was a task force member. Biddeford Mayor Joanne Twomey had pulled out of the project, saying the entire plan was "putting lipstick on a pig," and accusing the Alliance of "greenwashing" what was essentially a project to get Casella stimulus money for its troublesome incinerator.
In their ongoing effort to retrofit a state wind ordinance template to local needs, selectmen Thursday night generated plenty of discussion on the issues of shadow flicker, safety setbacks and decommissioning, but few certainties.
"This document says that we welcome any development as long as it's not greater than 5 decibels above the background noise during the day and it's not greater than 3 decibels over background noise at night," Aniel said.
People who live in the unorganized territories of Somerset County will not see millions of dollars worth of economic development projects in the coming years. ...Commissioners have been hesitant to support the commercial wind project and associated TIF, pointing to what they believe will be negative impacts on tourism and the landscape.
Wind project developer Beaver Ridge Wind LLC says it overpaid about $14,000 in property taxes in 2010 because assessors overstated the value of its land. In the first known request of its kind by a wind developer in the state, the company has asked that its property with three turbines be valued at nearly $1.4 million less than its current assessed value.
Millions of dollars for economic development in unorganized territories may have disappeared with the clicking of the "send" button on a recent e-mail to Somerset County Commissioners. Wind power developer First Wind has asked commissioners to delay deciding whether to form a tax-increment financing district.
Selectmen Mark Belanger, Jeff Sterling and Chairman Brad Adley said they want to better understand noise decibels, and what sounds they can expect to hear from turbine-topped ridges under a variety of atmospheric conditions. They want firsthand accounts by taking a field trip to the Mars Hill wind farm, listening to turbines and talking with residents and municipal officials.
A group opposing industrial windmills atop Maine's mountain ranges has convinced several lawmakers to submit legislation that scrutinizes and reduces the speed of the state's wind power initiative. Wind power proponents counter that the group isn't looking for transparency or to slow down wind development, but to stop it altogether.
It's well-documented and accepted - even among developers - that wind projects create very few permanent jobs. Big Wind and its media allies gloss over this fact and make the argument that economic activity "no matter how brief" justifies permanent degradation of our state's most valuable natural assets. There's nothing that sells a bad idea like the promise of economic salvation.
Members of the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board met Monday night to discuss the importance of forming a committee to write an ordinance on wind power development. Former Selectman Bill Hine said other towns are struggling to set up such ordinances.