Saddleback wind project is still on, with less noise

Quietly, the Saddleback Ridge Wind Project is moving forward.

Patriot Renewables of Quincy, Mass., the developer behind the project, said Wednesday it will put in place lower nighttime sound limits in accordance with a court ruling earlier in the week. That means the windmill noise levels will be kept at 42 decibels or less instead the previously allowed level of 45.

Saddleback Ridge Wind will be located in Carthage and will consist of 12 wind turbines, each with a rated capacity of about 2.85 megawatts, according to Patriot Renewables literature. The project has a total capacity of 34.2 megawatts and will produce more than 100 million kilowatt-hours of clean emission-free, renewable energy, or enough to power approximately 16,000 homes. Construction is expected to begin later this year, with completion expected in mid-2014.

"Patriot Renewables and Saddleback Ridge Wind are fully prepared to comply with the newer sound limits," Todd Presson, chief operating officer for Patriot Renewables, said. "Despite the fact that these sound levels were not in place when this project was originally permitted, we are prepared to abide by the ruling of the Law Court and are encouraged by the decision regarding the other points of the appeal."

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday vacated a decision by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection over nighttime sound requirements for the project.

Writing for the court, Justice Warren Silver said the nighttime decibel level should be 42 or below.

Patriot Renewables issued a statement late Wednesday in response to the ruling.

"At the end of the day, this is about creating clean energy, making responsible investments — both in terms of economics and the environment, and putting people to work building this project," Presson said. "We are happy to be making these investments in Western Maine and look forward to breaking ground."

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Alice Barnett's picture

no recourse???

On 3-6-2013, Maine Supreme Court ruled lower noise on Saddleback Ridge Wind turbine project for “health” reasons. There was enough information on “adverse” health affects for the Board of Environmental Protection and the legislators to lower Maine’s night time noise limit to 42 dbA. World Health Organization has studied the noise issue and claims 35 dbA is the maximum tolerance for rural areas.

TECH Environmental gave a report to Industry Maine based on WHO’s recommendations. They scaled height to set back distance. A 500 foot turbine requires 7000 foot set-back to hear less than 35 dbA.

The court has concerns in the footnotes. Wind Energy Act, “reduce the potential for CONTROVERSY regarding siting of grid scale wind”..”places where it is most compatible with existing patterns of development and resource values.” Thirty four residences is an existing pattern. Ten of the 34 residences were built in the last 5 years – a pattern.

Most of these new homes were built because of natural resource value; Spring water, wilderness, southern exposure and QUIET. Most of these homes do NOT depend ”on the grid”. They have solar panels on site. Most of these homes d not want to sell to the developer.

Most of these residences have NO recourse. Unless Department of Environmental Protection opens the application and all the new revisions are presented to the public.

Dan McKay's picture

This developer's Home State

This developer's Home State is crying out madly for investments, yet the " Big Dig " marvel doesn't seem to get much traction for his turbines there. They say they advocate a good neighbor policy here in the River Valley, but a good neighbor doesn't have to buy his way in. Pair the monumental profits from the Big Dig with the anticipated free taxpayer money that comes from plunking in wind machines, it is more like having someone rob you of your money, then hand it back to you if you promise to smile while they reach back into your pocket to rob you of more of your money ( by way of having your electric bill go up, thanks to wind projects ). I like clever people, but, only when they are honest and these carpetbaggers from Massachusetts take us for naive simpletons here in our house. Those of you smiling with their money in your pocket know who you are, I just wonder what you are.

Alice Barnett's picture

go figure

34.2 MW project at 100% capacity.

34.2 x .25 (25%) = 8.55 MW
8.55 x 24 hours = 205.2 x 365 days =74898 divided by 6.25 (average Maine home) = 11,983 homes........4000 homes off but hey.....only 25%

Please Sun Journal...do not always trust the developer.

Noel Foss's picture

They did go figure.

"The project has a total capacity of 34.2 megawatts and will produce more than 100 million kilowatt-hours of clean emission-free, renewable energy, or enough to power approximately 16,000 homes. "

100 millionkw / 6250kw per average household = 16,000 households.

Alan Michka's picture

Don't put too much faith in Patriot's numbers

100 million KWh means the project would have to achieve better than a 33% capacity factor. Only one Maine wind project passed this mark last year. Most of the rest were far behind. (We don't know about the Patriot Renewables project in Woodstock because they won't let the public see their production numbers for it.)

Collectively, Maine wind projects were only able to muster a 24% capacity factor in 2012. That's worse than the DOE reported for any region of the U.S. in 2011. So, if you want to make some money, bet against this project producing 100 million KWh.

Alice Barnett's picture

Online Supreme Court Opinion

Online Supreme Court Opinion :http://www.courts.state.me.us/opinions_orders/supreme/lawcourt/2013/13me25fr.pdf

Alice Barnett's picture

complaint protocol

page 10 footnote of decision......"It is unclear from the record how the Department and Board intend to enforce sound level limits for wind projects."

"The Board's rules provide guidance on obtaining measurements for enforcement, but not on enforcement procedure."

"not guaranteed after construction, leaving the residents without protection."

Ask the 34 residences in the 40-45 dbA zone how they feel.

http://www.bethelcitizen.com/news/letters/2013/03/07/wind-letters-web/56...

ask residents a mile and half away in Woodstock how the complaint protocol is working for Spruce Mountain Wind.

Hart Daley's picture

Todd Presson aka: Pinocchio

"At the end of the day, this is about creating clean energy, making responsible investments — both in terms of economics and the environment, and putting people to work building this project," Presson said. "We are happy to be making these investments in Western Maine and look forward to breaking ground."

Todd Presson's nose must be growing my the second. What he should have said was "At the end of the day, this is about making money, at any cost."

All any single one of us has to do is conduct some research on our own. Look at the existing wind projects just in our state and listen to the people who are living in close proximity to these projects and you will understand the absurdity behind the wind industries claims.

As far as creating "clean" energy, these projects make no substantial contribution to "reducing CO2 in the atmosphere" OR "reducing fossil fuel energy production"..period. So much for his environmental statement.

As far as "making responsible investments" that would mean the project would have a positive impact on our (the ratepayers) electricity bills yet because wind energy is so inefficient (they boast a 35% capacity factor but barely reach 25% when the turbines are brand new and actually producing energy). They can not produce energy "on demand" when peak usage demands the energy. This all translates into higher energy costs for you and me.

They also build the projects using tax payer subsidized loans, and in the case of Roxbury's project, when they can't pay their loans, they borrow tax payer funded grants. See the double dipping irony in this.

As far as "putting people to work building the project". Well these people (the majority who are not locally hired), are only employed TEMPORARILY. When the project is complete there will not be (1) Carthage, Dixfield or Canton resident employed FULL TIME at this facility...so much for supporting our local families.

Todd Presson should be careful when he stands under his precious wind turbines because if his nose continues to grow it could get trimmed by one of the spinning 100 foot blades.

These projects are not about the environment or contributing to communities...plain and simple they are about money for the developers and they care less about the people or negative impacts to our local beauty and character.

Penny Gray's picture

All Mainers share in the

All Mainers share in the shame of this farce. This mountain will be blasted and defiled by the same company that built Boston's Big Dig, (Remember the Big DIg?) and all to pad their pockets with our tax dollars. We get nothing out of this except environmental degradation and the debasement and devaluation of our quality of life. Shame on us. Mainers should be protecting their natural resources and their tourism based economy. Few states in the union can match Maine's beauty, yet we sell her down the river for a fistful of dollars.

Noel Foss's picture

Environmental Degradation?

Perhaps a nice coal plant would go better there? Or maybe a Nuclear plant instead. Those are good, low-impact power sources, right?
If you want to protect Maine's environment, you need to look deeper than just face value. Acid rain (from Coal plants and factories that are upwind from us) does far more damage to Maine's environment every year than these wind turbines will for the entire time that they're in place. Not to mention the greenhouse gasses that may be contributing to the rising average global temperature. Maine's tourism-based economy's been suffering a bit because of that, too. The decreasing average snowpack over the last 50 years has certainly had an impact on the ski industry, as well as on outfitters who supply it. Not to mention the people who rely on the business that the snowmobile trails bring in every year. That same decrease in snow pack has an impact on farmers, too.

So what's worse?

Alan Michka's picture

Huh?

"Perhaps a nice coal plant would go better there?"

I always get a kick out of that pitch. Would anyone ever put a coal plant on a remote mountaintop? Have you seen many coal plants on rural mountaintops? Is someone proposing this? Coal plants, gas plants and nuclear plants don't have to be built on mountaintops. They generally get built in industrial areas close to where electricity is used. So, your example is a false choice, isn't it?

What's more, it would take on the order of 50 to 75 Saddleback wind projects to replace a base load coal plant. That's not 50 to 75 turbines, that's 50 to 75 entire Saddleback wind projects! And they really couldn't replace it because wind power is too intermittent to be a reliable base load generator anyway.

What's more, land-based wind power in Maine won't replace a single coal or nuclear plant. Not sure why you think it will.

"If you want to protect Maine's environment, you need to look deeper than just face value."

If you truly want to protect Maine's environment, you need to learn the realities of land-based wind power before it's too late. We've had quite enough of its myths.

Noel Foss's picture

touche on location, but a "fail" on concept

I wasn't saying that anybody's proposing a coal plant in the western Maine mountains. I'm saying that power has to come from someplace, and I'd much rather see it come from a clean source like wind (even if it's not that much, it's better than nothing) than from a dirty source like coal, or oil, or from a dangerous source like nuclear. And if there were more small-scale power generation sites around the country, there wouldn't be as much need for coal or nuclear plants. That's how you replace large-scale production like a coal plant; by branching out with small scale sources. Put solar on your roof, for example, and you can cut back considerably on your greenhouse gas emissions.
I'm not the one who's being extreme and ignoring realities here. Wind isn't about replacing power plants; it's about supplementing them so they're producing less. Less power, less pollution. There's no "Silver Bullet" to wind, but it's a good supplement. For instance, a mere 14% of US energy was from Renewables at the first half of 2011. Not even close to replacing the coal plants, to be sure. But I don't hear you clamoring for renewable energy to be discontinued as a waste of time just because it's not producing a huge percentage of the total.
What's your power bill look like every month? Mine's around $40, and I think it's too high. That's the real way to help solve the country's energy problem; cut back on demand. Say that all the houses that this wind project is supplying had power bills of $40 rather than $110 each month. Hardly insignificant, is it?

Penny Gray's picture

Noel, I agree that point of

Noel, I agree that point of source, point of use power generation would be the ideal solution. Solar panels on roofs, excellent! Power plants located near high population areas, eliminating hundreds of miles of transmission lines and clear cuts, also an excellent concept. Industrial wind in Maine creates incredible sprawl along our ridgelines, hundreds of acres of clear cuts which must be sprayed with herbicides annually, transmission lines that snake through miles of forest, (research "line loss") and thirty foot wide roads blasted along the ridgelines (think massive erosion in an environmentally sensitive area). All of this is being done hundreds and hundreds of miles from where the power is going to be used (Massachusetts and points south). Not one conventional power plant has been shut down by erecting these machines. Not one. Ever. Anywhere. In fact, new power plants are having to be built to back them up when they don't produce energy, which is between 70 and 85% of the time here in Maine. Name plate capacity that the wind developers boast about is a figure that isn't real and doesn't even come close to the power that's actually produced by these machines. Mountain winds, gusty and intermittent, play havoc with the gear boxes which is why so many of them are always being repaired...at huge expense. The weight of the turbine blades is so heavy that if they remain stationary for long, they begin to warp, which is why they are kept turning during windless periods, drawing power off the grid. I agree we must be constantly searching for new ways to provide energy to an energy hungry population, but let's focus on sensible solutions that do more good than harm. Cutting back on demand by using less is the best solution of all and we can all do better in that arena. Energy efficiency is key. Nothing we do will make a bit of difference otherwise. My power bill at home is zero because I live off grid, but not many people would choose to live as simply and frugally as I do.

Penny Gray's picture

You need to realize that

You need to realize that these wind developers sell carbon credits to those coal powered plants to allow them to keep polluting Maine's air and acidifying Maine's water. These turbines not only fail at producing electricity that is dispatchable to the grid, but they allow coal plants to keep polluting. I don't see this as a solution. Hydropower produced dense, dispatchable energy. This needs to be reclassified as a renewable energy source.

Alice Barnett's picture

u do know?

half the money WIND makes is by selling RECs and cashing in on PTCs ? They sell these credits to coal burning companies...

Noel Foss's picture

yes, I'm aware of carbon credits and their value on the market

And frankly, it's not something I agree with. If it ever gets put into law to keep carbon credits from being sold, I'll be at the head of the line to vote for it.
Funny thing about wind turbines, though, is that they don't produce that well when they're in a valley. Hence; mountaintops. Interestingly enough, turbines don't work well on top of buildings in cities like Boston or NY; too much turbulence from the other buildings. There's been some success with VAWT's on that front, but not enough to make it economically viable.
As for hydro, I support that too. But I bet the people that live along side the rivers you'd be damming would have some of the same objections to your project that you've got to this one (well, maybe not EXACTLY the same...they'd be LOSING their homes.) Just look at Flagstaff lake, for instance.
It's true that Maine exports a lot of energy, and that it's very clean energy. That's a good thing. Adding wind to the mix seems like a good idea, especially if it can crowd out some of the Coal-produced energy that currently feeds Boston.
What's worse, putting a turbine on top of a mountain in Maine, or cutting the top entirely off a Mountain in Pennsylvania or Virginia because it's got coal in it?

Alan Michka's picture

Where did you get this idea

Where did you get this idea that mountaintop wind power in Maine is going to displace coal? ISO New England has already said that wind power, if anything, would replace natural gas almost exclusively. Less than 6% of New England's electricity was produced with coal in 2011.

Penny Gray's picture

No more dams need be built.

No more dams need be built. Existing powerplants at existing dams can be upgraded with new technology and their efficiency improved by 70%. That's huge. We need to improve our own efficiency. Use less. If the best we can do is destroy the last great places on earth in order to save the planet, we need to go back to the drawing board. The FERC numbers on energy production from the existing industrial wind facilities here in Maine show dismal production, far below what was projected by the developers. As the national wind maps show, Maine does not have good wind quality. The benefits of installing these machines on our mountains and ridgelines is negligible. Saddleback Mountain shouldn't be sacrificed just to provide a staging area for these forty story tall religious icons of the "green" movement. I'm not against renewable energy, I've lived off grid for over twenty five years on 500 watts of solar power. I just don't understand why Mainers would sell their heritage so cheaply, and for so little benefit to anyone but the wind developers.

Noel Foss's picture

Environmental Degradation?

Perhaps a nice coal plant would go better there? Or maybe a Nuclear plant instead. Those are good, low-impact power sources.

"Not in my back yard," right?

Penny Gray's picture

Nothing needs to be built on

Nothing needs to be built on top of that mountain, Noel, and nothing should be. Our mountain tops use to be protected until the expedited wind law removed all protections. Maine doesn't need the electricity. We currently export over half of the electricity we generate and our mix is among the cleanest in the nation. We don't rely on coal or oil to produce our energy. We should retrofit our existing hydro dams if we need more power down the road, making sure fishways and fish lifts are in place and operational. Industrial wind is a solution that doesn't work to a problem that doesn't exist. Let Patriot Renewables put their turbines on top of Boston skyscrapers. They could sell advertising space on the blades and towers.

Alice Barnett's picture

hydro

Massachusetts needs hydro.....they need the electricity...not Maine

Norman Mitchell's picture

Ever heard of these stories

I bet you never did.” Nov. 2, 1922 Washington Post Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones many well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared.” , The New York Times, reports Jan. 2, 1870 Hudson River, by a singular freak of temperature, has thrown off its icy mantle and opened its waters to navigation, again in the New York Times, June 23, 1890 Is our climate changing? last winter in the almost total failure of the ice crop throughout the valley of the Hudson, makes the question pertinent. The older inhabitants tell us that the winters are not as cold now as when they were young, seems the Story of our climate is always changing The new York times reports on Feb 24 1895 continued observations do not point to the advent of a second glacial period, when the countries now basking in the fostering warmth of a tropical sun will ultimately give way to the perennial frost and snow of the polar regions.” Again in the Chicago Tribune Aug 9 1923 Professor Gregory of Yale University stated that “another world ice-epoch is due.” How about time magazine Sept. 10 1923 The discoveries of changes in the sun’s heat and southward advance of glaciers in recent years have given rise to the conjectures of the possible advent of a new ice age. Here is a great headline from the New York Times Mar 27 1933 America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776 ! Then in the Acociated Press Dec. 15 1934 America is believed by Weather Bureau scientists to be on the verge of a change of climate, with a return to increasing rains and deeper snows and the colder winters of grandfather’s day.” Well here’s one from May 30 1937 New York Times Warming Arctic Climate Melting Glaciers Faster, Raising Ocean Level, Scientist Says , But then in the New York Times of Jan 30 1961 After a week of discussions on the causes of climate change, an assembly of specialists from several continents seems to have reached unanimous agreement on only one point: it is getting colder. But the flip flop still continues the New York times reports on Feb 20 1969 Arctic pack ice is thinning and that the ocean at the North Pole may become an open sea within a decade or two How about this one its really scary in 1970 Paul Ehrlich Earth Day “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.” Also Earth day 1970 Barry Commoner of Washington University also on Earth Day 1970 said “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind. We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” Now we all know that Civilization ended right ? How about This one from Newsweek Jan 26 1970 Because of increased dust, cloud cover and water vapor, “the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.” New York Times Jul 18 1970 Because of increased dust, cloud cover and water vapor, “the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.” Then the Washington Post Jul 9 1970 “In the next 50 years, fine dust that humans discharge into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel will screen out so much of the sun’s rays that the Earth’s average temperature could fall by six degrees. Sustained emissions over five to 10 years, could be sufficient to trigger an ice age.” The Los Angles Times Oct 24 1971 It’s already getting colder ! and the New York Times Jan 5 , 1978 no end in sight to the cooling trend of the last 30 years , They go one to predict Feb 18 1978 “A poll of climate specialists in seven countries has found a consensus that there will be no catastrophic changes in the climate by the end of the century. But the specialists were almost equally divided on whether there would be a warming, a cooling or no change at all.” But by 1986 The San Jose Mercury News reports A global warming trend could bring heat waves, dust-dry farmland and disease, The Associated Press reported on May 15 , 1989 global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide two degrees by 2010, We all know that happened right ! All this as you can see is quite laughable but there’s more in The Birmingham Post in England, reported on July 26, 1999 Scientists are warning that some of the Himalayan glaciers could vanish within ten years , How about this whopper Reported in the National Geographic News, on June 20, 2008 Arctic warming has become so dramatic that the North Pole may melt this summer ! Climate change Yes, there has been plenty of weather during the past 140 years. Yet despite warnings of gloom and doom mankind somehow has managed to survive. If you take the time to look at the evidence Mankind has no effect on the climate its going to be Hotter no colder no wait… The climate will change ! Yes its called the weather! Yet the world has gone crazy over an imaginary threat called “global warming.”

Norman Mitchell's picture

Agenda 21

Agenda 21 global control look into this be scared !!!!

Alan Michka's picture

They forgot "virginal"

"will produce more than 100 million kilowatt-hours of clean emission-free, renewable energy, or enough to power approximately 16,000 homes. "

The press release for Patriot Renewables forgot to mention the adjectives virginal, organic, pure of heart and fairly traded in promoting this tiny project - tiny from an energy, environmental, and jobs benefits standpoint that is.

Patriot Renewables makes a similar "power 16,000 homes" statement on its Spruce Mountain Wind website which is unverifiable since they won't make their production numbers public for that facility, unlike most every other wind project in Maine. Of course, Patriot will probably have to tone down their claims if that information becomes public knowledge.

Environmentally, the Saddleback project might have more negative impacts than positive. Maine's 2030 goal of 3000 MW of onshore wind power could lower regional greenhouse gas emissions by less than 2% and fossil fuel pollutants by less than 1% - and the Saddleback project would represent just over 1% of that 3000 MW goal. They're going to blast and bulldoze Saddleback for THAT?

Presson did get one thing right when he limited his "putting people to work" statement to construction jobs. Maine doesn't have a wind power industry so much as it has a wind farm construction industry. Once the Saddleback project is built, a matter of a few months, the job boom is over for that project. Then for the next few decades it's just another big eyesore on a marred mountaintop, with few jobs, producing a relative trickle of electricity.............occasionally. Brilliant!

Robert McQueeney's picture

I live near another wind farm

I moved here after the towers were in progress, so I feel I have little right to complain, as the old saying goes, if you move next to a farm you can't complain about the smell.

But I have noticed many .... misleading statements, much like a used car salesman would use. Although not outright lying, they are not telling things quite the way they ought to be, with full disclosure.

There is a reason there is so much resistance to wind farms. Some don't like the visual effects, personally, I smile when I see them turning and making "free" energy. But for residents who live nearby them, these wind turbines create a noise vortex, much as a household fan does. They make noise, plain and simple.

Often times, the wind blows in such a direction that I do not hear them, being up wind. But when I am down wind and the wind is blowing at a good clip, the noise vortex sounds much like a train passing over the other side of the hill. We've all heard trains off in the distance, they come and they go, doesn't seem to bother anyone. But when this "train" noise just continues for hours and hours, and "never" ends, it can be quite annoying.

Folks in these rural areas live hear for a certain quality of life, and wind farms tend to trample over that quality of life, just proclaiming it is within legal limits. Do you suppose the president of patriot renewables will move right next door, down wind of prevailing winds form one of these wind farms?

I'm all in favor of clean energy, but let's remember the people who may be affected by such projects, keep the allowable sound ratings low and distances from homes greater.

Hart Daley's picture

Free energy?

I agree with everything stated by Mr. McQeeney except for the part where he smiles when he sees the turbines spinning and making FREE energy. It is anything but free. It is very inefficient and unreliable, lending to it's high cost of production.

Alan Michka's picture

That's the catch

In a rural environment, they can indeed be a significant noise intrusion. The real story here is that they're providing a remarkably small amount of "clean" energy in the great scheme of things, especially when compared to their negative impacts.

If these projects HAD to meet some type of minimum true benefits to true impacts ratio, they probably wouldn't get built. But our State's policy and approach to wind power is driven by the wind industry, not a true and sober assessment of its energy and environmental benefits. The tail is wagging the dog.

Dan McKay's picture

Presson , do you know what

Presson , do you know what the word " vacate " means ? Like in vacate the premises. Why don't you tell us about the company's investments in Buzzard's Bay, Cashman must figure you are goon enough to handle us in Maine, Have you met our Speaker of the House ?

Norman Mitchell's picture

Salvatore F. "Sal" DiMasi

and Jay Cashman

Dan McKay's picture

That's pretty funny, "

That's pretty funny, " Quietly, the Saddleback Ridge Wind Project is moving forward. " Surely, you didn't mean to mock the many residents living within earshot of where these turbines will be standing . Perhaps, if your commitment to your profession will allow it, you should talk to the DEP and ask how in scientific terms they figured 42 dBA was the adequate limiting number, and how many sound experts did they bring to the discussion of turbine noise. Perhaps, you might want to talk to the many citizens who caused the DEP membership to shake in their shoes in Dixfield during a application meeting. The DEP is playing politics and worse, they ignore a precious part of the environment, PEOPLE.
BTW, a little color change and Presson would not only sound just like the esteemed Governor of Massachusetts, he would resemble him visually.

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