CANTON — Chairs replaced fire engines as the Canton Fire Station hosted the Department of Environmental Protection’s third hearing on the Canton Mountain Wind Project in Canton and Dixfield.
Commissioner Patricia Aho conducted the hearing, reading names from a list of people who signed up to speak. Besides the 19 or so people who signed up, several more of the 60 present spoke during the two-hour hearing.
Project Manager Erle Townsend, Division Director Mark Pergeron and Regional Director Dawn Hallowell completed the DEP Panel.
Comments to the panel centered around concern for fires from the turbines, the impact on wildlife and aesthetics as well as the decommissioning of the wind farm after the wind project was gone.
Lisa Cummings read a statement from the Canton Board of Selectmen saying that the other two hearings had satisfied the board that they were fully informed about the project.
Dan McKay was concerned about the fire risk and the need for more fire protection. He was also wanted Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to do more studies on the impact the turbines have a wildlife. He cited a study that questioned whether wind power actually reduced greenhouse gases.
Mike Bond, former CEO of an international energy company, questioned how much energy would be generated. He said that the projected three megawatts would be closer to 1.68 megawatts. “Is this enough to destroy a mountain?” he asked the panel.
Canton fire Chief Shane Gallant said the Fire Department was working on a plan with Patriot Renewables LLC and the road to the turbines would give them better access.
Judy Drury of Canton spoke to the draft’s subjectivity. She said, “ I read, ‘we think that won’t happen’ or ‘we hope that won’t happen’ fifteen or more times. Also, I read ‘approximately‘ nineteen times and, to me, that was not reassuring language.
"These structures are not benign.” she said, encouraging people to read an article from Forbes Magazine, "Germany's Green Energy Disaster: A Cautionary Tale For World Leaders.”
She suggested that the environmental tests concerning impact on wildlife should be redone.
Larry Williamson asked for more testing, particularly on the effect of wind direction on sound. He suggested that the DEP was more concerned about the government's interests than the public's.
Others attendees wanted to know how many jobs actually would be created and where the energy was going. Another attendee suggested since Maine already exports lobsters and lumber, exporting power should not be an issue.
Addressing the unsightly windmills, Sue Gammon said, people clear-cut their property and that is unsightly. “This is private land. People should be able to do what they want on their land.”
Rebecca Skibitsky of Dixfield said she used to live in Canton and had heard it once was a bustling town. “We need to be ready for the new to come in.”