DIXFIELD — Selectmen are waiting for an opinion from Brunswick lawyer Kristen Collins on the legality of a proposed wind ordinance that voters are scheduled to act on during the Nov. 6 elections.
Other input has been provided by Androscoggin Valley Council of Government's planner John Maloney, who said that the ordinance, as it is written, is aligned with the town's land-use policies.
The ordinance, as written, provides regulations for constructing a wind project that Patriot Renewables LLC, of Boston, said it could work with.
Some in town, including Selectmen Hart Daley and Scott Belskis, want a tougher ordinance that would essentially ban such construction.
As it stands now, if a majority of residents approve the existing proposed ordinance, they are approving construction of the project. If they vote it down, Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky said the project is dead.
Board Chairman Mac Gill said once Collins provides her review of the proposed ordinance, selectmen will meet with Maloney and Collins to discuss it.
Patriot Renewables has been conducting wind tests, bird studies and other research on the Colonel Holman Mountain ridgeline for several years as preliminary work needed for the $40 million project. In that time, a similar project has been constructed in Woodstock, and two others, in Canton and Carthage, are going through the approval process.
Tentatively planned is a network of wind turbines that would feed into a substation in Canton.
Skibitsky said that if Dixfield residents ultimately turn down wind turbine construction, the town would still be touched by them because transmission lines would be built within the boundaries of the town.
Tom Carroll, project manager for the Dixfield project, appeared before the board Monday night to provide an update on several questions previously posed by Daley and Belskis.
Among them was a request for the company's wind data has been collected from the Colonel Holman ridgeline during the past couple of years.
“This is proprietary information and part of negotiations (for the sale of the power),” Carroll told the board.
Daley said that means that until the wind towers are erected, Dixfield residents won't know if wind is viable.
“We have to take the company's word for it and give you the green light,” Daley said.
Carroll responded with, “The fact that I'm building the project shows it's viable. We need a 10-, 15- or 20-year agreement with someone who will be purchasing the power. We don't release that information. If they choose to release it, that's up to them.”
When asked who was considering the purchase of the power, Carroll said a consortium of towns from Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Daley also questioned the comparative price of electricity generated by wind and other forms of energy.
Carroll said land wind power may be 2 to 3 cents higher. Ocean wind power would be much higher. He said, too, that when the purchase/price agreement is signed with the buyers, the rate will remain the same for the length of the agreement.