Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Maine
FREEDOM - Competitive Energy Services has decided to take the town to court in an effort to gain approval to erect three electrity-generating wind turbines on Beaver Ridge. The Portland-based company filed an appeal in Waldo County Superior Court on Friday, near the end of the 30-day window of opportunity allowed by the town's ordinance.
Wind power is in its infancy in Maine, a TransCanada Energy Ltd. representative told Franklin County commissioners Tuesday. The panel received an update on the proposed Kibby Wind Power project in northern Franklin County and asked questions of company representatives. An application was filed with Maine Land Use Regulation Commission on Jan. 8 to rezone 2,900 acres and to build the wind farm on ridges of the Boundary Mountains. A fifth volume of documents about the project was filed last week with LURC, project manager Nick Di domenico told commissioners. Wind power has been measured and environmental studies conducted on birds, bats, and Canadian lynx among others with results incorporated into the application.
ROCKPORT - An ordinance drafted by the town would allow the building of electricity-generating wind turbines in town, if it gets voter approval in June. The proposal is prompted by the work of students aiming to put up such a turbine at Camden Hills Regional High School.
"Let's develop criteria where wind power should go, where it fits," Saviello said. Saviello's bill, LD 1644, would require LURC to review and establish site requirements for wind power. The legislation, which has been sent to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and is likely to have a public airing within the next few weeks, calls for a seven-member committee of representatives of all sides of the wind power argument. The committee would precisely define the requirements of "community benefit." Those in favor of the Redington plan believed it would benefit the community, but Saviello's bill calls for the committee to define benefit and community - more than just the township of Redington would have been affected by the project, he said. "We're defining community," Saviello said. "It's not just the unorganized territory; it's the town around it. And what's the benefit? If we're going to shut down a coal plant, show us where." The bill calls for the creation a list of areas in which wind turbines would not be allowed.
The Board of Directors of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce has voted to support TransCanada's plan to construct and operate 44 wind turbines on mountains in northern Franklin County. The multibillion dollar Canadian energy company has estimated the cost of the project at $270 million. The chamber's board met with a TransCanada representative and had questions about the economic impacts, the types of studies done in preparation for a development of this size and type, and where the power would be sold, according to chamber president Kent Wiles. "All of our questions were answered to our satisfaction and we believe that this project and the company that would own and operate it, TransCanada, would be an excellent addition to Franklin County," he said.
The Massachusetts wind development company behind the Mars Hill wind farm project will soon be conducting a year-long wind study on four Rumford peaks. Evergreen Wind Power LLC also has filed an application with the state's Land Use Regulation Commission to build 38 towers on Stetson Mountain in remote northern Washington County, between Danforth and Springfield. That $100 million project would generate about 57 megawatts for the New England power grid. In Rumford, one 150-foot-tall weather monitoring tower will each be placed atop Mount Dimmock, Black Mountain, Rumford Whitecap and South Twin Mountain, according to building permits dated Feb. 27 and issued by Code Enforcement Officer Rich Kent. Because they are prevailing-wind study towers and not power-generating wind farm turbines, the project doesn't have to go before planners, Kent said Wednesday.
A bill under review in the Legislature poses a threat to a proposal in Wiscasset for an electric conversion substation that would divert surplus electricity from the Maine grid system to southern New England via undersea transmission lines. The Green Line Project, a 660 megawatt high voltage underwater DC transmission operation, is a proposal of the New England Independent Transmission Co., LLC that has barely got underway, and local officials fear that the bill could snuff it out before it even begins. If passed, they argue that the legislation would effectively stymie any such operation unless the Public Utilities Commission issues a finding that transmission lines operating at more than 34.5 kilovolts will reduce the cost of electricity to state consumers, according to an amended version of the bill. Originally the bill was less restrictive pertaining to projects with transmission lines operating at more than 138 kilovolts. A Wiscasset delegation attended a hearing last Thursday in Augusta on the legislation before the Joint Standing Committee for Utilities and Energy. Selectmen Alex Robertson and Dave Nichols, Jr. accompanied Town Manager Arthur Faucher, who spoke out against the measure on behalf of the town. "We have a fear that a planned underwater transmission project requiring several million dollars in investment is ready to be abandoned," Faucher told the committee.
AUGUSTA - The company behind New England's largest wind farm is seeking regulatory approval for an even bigger, $100 million wind-energy project in a remote corner of northern Washington County. Evergreen Wind Power LLC hopes to build 38 wind turbines on Stetson Mountain, a rural ridgeline that runs along Route 169 between the communities of Danforth and Springfield. The company said the turbines could be operating by the beginning of next year.
FREEDOM -- Competitive Energy Services has not given up hope for erecting wind turbines on Beaver Ridge, but neither is the company committed to fighting another round. Competitive Energy is mulling its options after the board of appeals last week revoked the company's permit to erect three electricity- generating wind turbines on the ridge. The Portland-based company is considering all of its options, from appealing to Waldo County Superior Court to abandoning the project altogether, said project manager Andy Price. "Obviously we're disappointed that the project the town has clearly stated it would like to be built in their town was not allowed to go forward," Price said. "The appeals board overturned a very carefully considered decision by the planning board." The planning board approved the company's $10 million project to erect the nearly 400-foot turbines in December. Steve Bennett, and others who own property abutting the project site, took the matter to the Board of Appeals, which determined the project would not meet the town's sound ordinance. The board also determined the planning board failed to require Competitive Energy to post a decommissioning bond required by the ordinance. Competitive Energy has 30 days from Thursday, when the appeals board members are expected to formally sign the decision, to appeal to Superior Court.
FREEDOM - The town's Board of Appeals has rejected plans to erect three electricity generating wind turbines on Beaver Ridge. After four weeks of hearings, the board late Thursday found Portland-based Competitive Energy Service's turbines would not meet town standards for noise, said Addison Chase, chairman of the appeals board. The board also ruled that CES must post bonding for future demolition of the turbines. The planning Board approved CES's application in December. Planning board members agreed with a study that determined the turbines would not exceed the 45 decibel limit set in the ordinance. The vote was 3 to 0. Francis Walker abstained from the vote. Appeals board members determined that the study had been based on faulty ambient, or background, noise levels, Chase said. The planning board had required CES to post a bond for the construction phase, but Chase said the ordinance clearly requires the company to bond for future demolition as well. CES can appeal Thursday's decision to Waldo County Superior Court or start the process over again with the Planning Board.
FREEDOM -- After two weeks off, the appeals board is set to resume deliberations on a proposed wind turbine project tonight. The board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. at the Freedom Congregational Church. Arguments have closed, freeing the board to begin the process of wading through information and voting on the issues addressed by appellant Steve Bennett and others whose property abuts the site of the proposed turbines. "I'm hoping we can get to the point where we have motions and votes," said Addison Chase, chairman of the appeals board.
Every once in a while I run into folks who say something like this: “Why save the Boundary Mountains? Why not let TransCanada put a bunch of wind power turbines on Kibby Mountain and on the Kibby Range? Aren’t they just back of nowhere? Most people haven’t even heard of the Boundary Mountains, much less ever been there. If there is any place in Maine that’s a winner for a wind power project,” the argument goes, “this is it.” I beg to disagree. Places that are “back of nowhere” are the very ones we should be guarding most jealously. If Maine’s wild lands are to be preserved for their traditional uses of timberland management and remote, backcountry recreation, we have to resist every attempt to convert them to industrial and residential use.................A final word: We who oppose wind power projects in Maine’s mountains are not blind to the very real threat that global warming represents both to Maine and the entire planet. We argue simply that these projects do not stand up to a cost/benefit analysis. Their benefit in combating global warming is small; their costs to Maine in loss of its mountain resources are high; and there are potential wind power sites in Maine where those costs could be avoided entirely. With some care and thought, we can save Maine’s mountains and help save the planet as well.
MARS HILL, Maine — This year, when Steven and Tammie Fletcher took their traditional New Year’s Eve walk to the top of Mars Hill, the crisp winter stillness mixed with something unfamiliar: the whoosh of the new windmills towering over the northern Maine mountaintop. This is not how it was supposed to be, say the Fletchers and their neighbors on the north side of Mars Hill, where a 28-turbine wind farm, the largest yet built in New England, began operating in December. Residents say that town officials and company representatives repeatedly assured them that the wind farm would be silent. Instead, they say, the windmills have disrupted their mountainside idyll. On days with low cloud cover, when the pulsing, rushing noise is loudest, wind farm neighbors say it can disrupt their sleep and drown out the rushing brook that was once the only sound here. “It changes your whole feeling about being in the woods,” said Tammie Fletcher, whose mountainside house boasts floor-to-ceiling views of the ridge where the windmills now stand.
Members of the Board of Appeals asked sharp questions Thursday as they continued to review the wind power project proposed by Competitive Energy Services of Portland. Neighboring landowners have hired Bangor lawyer Edmond Bearor to press their case against the $12 million project, which would site three 400-foot-tall wind turbines atop Beaver Ridge to generate electricity for as many as 2,000 homes. As the board began to discuss the Planning Board’s decision to waive a requirement that CES prepare a storm water management plan, Addison Chase questioned whether the town’s code enforcement officer could adequately oversee construction activities on the site and the discontinued road that leads to it.
As two companies press ahead on projects bringing natural gas to Boston through offshore terminals, a third group is also looking to the sea for a new source of energy — a 140-mile underwater electric cable from Maine to South Boston. The project, which could bring enough electricity into the Hub to meet the needs of about 500,000 homes, has only started to run the gantlet of state and federal approvals and isn’t expected to be in service before 2013.
The appeal by disgruntled neighbors of a proposed wind turbine project in Freedom moved into its second session in as many weeks Thursday evening with disparaging “earwitness” testimony about the disturbing sound the spinning rotor blades are said to make. In the latest round before the town appeals board, it was also revealed a federal postal investigator was in town earlier this week looking into what happened to some notices of appeal of the project supposedly mailed last month to the town office by a Bangor attorney that by all accounts never arrived at their destination. Perrin Todd drove three and a half hours Tuesday from his home in Mars Hill to tell about what it’s like to live next-door to an operating wind farm. What he had to say was not encouraging for Steve Bennett and other property owners near the Beaver Ridge site where Competitive Energy Services (CES), a national firm with offices in Portland, is prepared to invest up to $12 million to erect three1.5 MW tower-mounted wind turbines on a 75-acre parcel owned by local farmer Ron Price.
Wind power potential in the mountains of Maine is only a fraction of the wind power potential just offshore from the 2500 miles of Maine coastline. Any wind power siting study done for Maine should acknowledge and explore this fact. Rep. Tom Saviello of Wilton has submitted a bill, An Act To Determine The Most Appropriate Sites For Windpower Facilities, that calls upon the legislature to commission a wind power siting study for Maine. Let’s slow down the “gold rush” mentality surrounding wind power in Maine and take a few months to deliberate sound and thoughtful solutions.
Opponents of the wind turbine project atop Beaver Ridge wrapped up their case Thursday, Feb. 8, before the board of appeals. Bearor invited Perrin Todd, a resident of Mars Hill, to come to Freedom and describe the volume and quality of noise from wind turbines recently installed there. Ultimately, there will be 28 turbines strung along the mountain for which the Aroostook County town is named. Richard Silkman, a partner in CES. Silkman said the two projects were so different that there was little to be gained from Todd’s testimony. “[His] comments are about a project that is not on Beaver Ridge, not even in the same county,” said Silkman. If appeals board members considered Todd’s comments to be valuable, said Silkman, they should also hear about the hundreds of other wind turbine projects across the United States. Furthermore, said Silkman, the noise limits set by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for the Mars Hill project were far higher than those allowed by the Commercial Development Review Ordinance in Freedom. “You’re absolutely right; the DEP has higher limits,” countered Bearor. “Mr. Todd is a living example [of the impact] of that.”
FREEDOM — Perrin Todd’s home near the wind turbine site in Mars Hill has been invaded, not by thieves or pests, but something equally annoying. “It’s a very troubling noise,” Todd told the town’s board of appeals at Thursday’s meeting. “It’s a disturbing noise.” Attorney Ed Bearor, who represents Steve Bennett and others who are appealing the planning board’s December decision to allow three electricity-generating turbines on Beaver Ridge, wrapped up his argument on Thursday, leaving the decision of whether to overturn the planning boards decision in the hands of the board of appeals. Todd, whose home is 2,100 feet removed from the nearest turbine, more than double the distance of the home closest to the proposed Beaver Ridge turbine, urged the board to use greater caution than town officials in Mars Hill had used.
In the Aroostook County town of Mars Hill, 28 wind turbines will soon be generating electricity. Even before they begin commercial operation, however, the windmills are generating considerable controversy. The biggest issue is noise.