PERU — Nearly 60 people attended a hearing by the Wind Ordinance Committee on Tuesday night to hear the pros and cons of wind power development.
A straw vote on the issue will be held in June.
Chairman Bill Hine said the committee has been working for 15 months to draft a wind power ordinance to govern potential developments. If the town has no ordinance, state regulations would apply.
EDP Renewables North America, LLC, of Houston, Texas, is considering building 25 to 35 turbines here, a representative told the committee earlier this year. The company received a permit in October 2011 to place a meteorological test tower off Black Mountain Road near the Sumner town line.
Hine said the mission of the committee is to develop an ordinance that addresses residents' concerns and the potential impact to public health, welfare and quality of life. Key provisions are noise limits, where to measure the noise level, landowner waivers and operational license, complaint protocol and decommissioning plans.
Hine showed the state's noise guidelines as 55 decibels daytime and 42 nighttime. The guidelines have no provisions for waivers, license or complaints, and no decommissioning plan.
Rumford's ordinance stipulates 50 decibels for daytime and 40 at night. Developers need to renew their license every five years.
Sumner’s ordinance has a decibel level of 35 for day and night. Developers must renew their license every three years and the code enforcement officer monitors complaints. Developers must post a performance bond before any turbines are built.
Hine said the committee was concerned with noise, visual impact and shadow flicker, the impact on wildlife and property values, as well as electrical pollution.
Benefits of wind power include payment to landowners, temporary jobs during construction and more tax revenue. However, with higher valuation for the towns school costs which would go up.
Judy Drury cautioned people to "be really, really sure about something that will affect us forever and ever."
Steve Drury passed out a flier that said if people agreed to wind power developments the landscape will be changed forever and they will have to live with the noise, flicker and mountaintop destruction, face potential health hazards and the impact on wildlife habitats. He requested people be informed before voting and go to www.friendsofmainemountains.org.