Article

Talks round and round

FREEDOM -- Tensions concerning a proposed wind turbine project continued to rise during an informational meeting that quickly turned into more of a debate on Monday evening.

The meeting began on a tentatively positive note when representatives of the company proposing the project, Portland-based Competitive Energy Systems, played a promotional video. But the mood in the crowded town hall began to congeal when residents erupted in laughter at breathless account of the benefits they could expect from inviting the wind turbines into their neighborhood.

"There's not a prettier sunset than one with a wind turbine in front of it," said a man in the multimedia presentation.

The people in the hall proved a tough sell.

The energy company has submitted a building application to erect three 400-foot-tall wind turbines on Beaver Ridge, a 1,000-foot rise that overlooks the town. Partners in the company have made an agreement with local farmer Ron Price to lease land on the ridge, with plans to put the turbines in place by the end of the summer of 2007.

But residents have raised a wide array of concerns ranging from light pollution to noise pollution to hazards of ice being flung from the 130-foot blades. The company has done a 17-month study on the wind speeds and prevalence, but has done no specific tests on how the noise caused by the wind striking the blades would affect residents... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The meeting began on a tentatively positive note when representatives of the company proposing the project, Portland-based Competitive Energy Systems, played a promotional video. But the mood in the crowded town hall began to congeal when residents erupted in laughter at breathless account of the benefits they could expect from inviting the wind turbines into their neighborhood.
 
"There's not a prettier sunset than one with a wind turbine in front of it," said a man in the multimedia presentation.
 
The people in the hall proved a tough sell.
 
The energy company has submitted a building application to erect three 400-foot-tall wind turbines on Beaver Ridge, a 1,000-foot rise that overlooks the town. Partners in the company have made an agreement with local farmer Ron Price to lease land on the ridge, with plans to put the turbines in place by the end of the summer of 2007.
 
But residents have raised a wide array of concerns ranging from light pollution to noise pollution to hazards of ice being flung from the 130-foot blades. The company has done a 17-month study on the wind speeds and prevalence, but has done no specific tests on how the noise caused by the wind striking the blades would affect residents or wildlife in the area. Additionally, residents questioned whether the company is qualified to take on the project.
 
"Have you ever built a wind turbine?" asked Freedom first selectman Steve Bennett.
 
"No." CES partner Rich Silkman replied.
 
"Have you ever owned a wind turbine?"
 
"No." Silkman said again.
 
But Mark Isaacson, another partner with the energy company, said the partners have extensive experience in working with various other types of energy, and that this would not be the first time the company has taken on similarly new project.
 
The partners have extended their deadline for approval of the building application to July 1.
 
However, Bennett and the people in the town hall said they want more time and more research done.
 
"Given the fact that you can count on one hand the number of other towns in Maine that have a wind turbine ordinance -- if there's any at all, I think it's unrealistic to expect us to get together an ordinance from scratch that covers all the safety issues," Bennett said.
 
Bennett and several others who own land on the ridge near the construction site have laid building applications of their own alongside that of CES -- a move that may put a crimp in wind turbine project. The proximity of the proposed homes would pose a safety threat if construction continued on the wind turbines, since they are known to fling ice.
 
"When you put up a windmill -- that by your own brochure can fling ice up to a 1,000 feet within 360 feet of my home -- you're going to be a very unwelcome neighbor," Bennett said.
 
Silkman replied that he would counter these moves by pressuring the code enforcement officer to approve the application as quickly as possible -- effectively ramming the project through.
 
Another resident, Phil Bloomstein, who lives within 850 feet of the proposed project, asked the company to "take the high road" and give the town more time. Silkman said they would try to work with them.
 
Joel Elliott -- 861-9252
 
jelliott@centralmaine.com


Source: http://morningsentinel.main...

APR 4 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2034-talks-round-and-round
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