Pros and cons of wind power presented at forum

PARIS — Dozens of people listened to five speakers give their views on wind energy at a forum Friday.

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

Dylan Voorhees, clean energy and global warming project director with the National Resources Council of Maine, speaks Friday during a forum on wind power in Paris.

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

Lawrence J. Dwight, president of Dwight Investment Counsel of Wilton, speaks Friday during a forum on wind power in Paris.

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

Andy Novey, president of Tech Environmental Inc., speaks Friday during a forum on wind power in Paris.

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

Kirk Nadeau, president of Kean Project Engineering, speaks Friday during a forum on wind power in Paris.

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

M. Dirk Langeveld/Sun Journal

Andy Novey, project manager with Patriot Renewables, speaks Friday during a forum on wind power in Paris.

Linda Walbridge, of the Western Maine Economic Development Council, said the goal of the forum was to help residents make informed decisions about wind power on a local level. The speakers included one proponent and one opponent of wind power, a sound permitting specialist and two people involved with proposed wind turbine projects in Oxford Hills.

Dylan Voorhees, clean energy and global warming project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said electricity in Maine comes from sources within the state as well as a regional New England grid.

"Altogether, there are a lot of dirty fuels in this mix, and a lot of expensive fuels," he said.

Voorhees said nonrenewable energy sources such as natural gas are vulnerable to sharp price increases and also contribute to pollution and health problems. Voorhees said wind power is competitive with other fuels in terms of cost per watt, and that wind power would displace natural gas or other more expensive fuels when it is fed into the grid.

Lawrence J. Dwight, president of Dwight Investment Counsel of Wilton, described himself as an economist and environmentalist who has done work with the Audubon Society. Dwight said that studies are available on the impact of wind turbines in Europe, and that there has been no increase in jobs or decrease in foreign oil imports or carbon dioxide emissions despite the construction of approximately 37,000 turbines.

Dwight said nine jobs were lost for every four green energy jobs created in Spain, and imports of foreign oil increased due to the need to have a backup system when wind turbines are not producing power. He also said turbines produce a danger to birds and bats, require the clear-cutting of forest, and have adverse effects on human and animal health due to sleep deprivation from turbine noise.

Dwight said almost 100 percent of Maine's energy is produced in the United States or Canada, and that 40 percent comes from renewable sources such as biomass or hydroelectric systems. He said construction of wind turbines in Maine would increase utility costs due to the need for added infrastructure and lead to the loss of thousands of jobs.

"This is a jobs export policy," Dwight said.

Peter Guldberg, president of Tech Environmental Inc. of Waltham, Mass., said sound waves produced by wind turbines dissipate or are absorbed with distance. He said that while a typical 1.5 megawatt turbine produces sound at 104 decibels, it is reduced to 45 decibels, the equivalent of a typical neighborhood, within 1,000 feet of the turbine.

Guldberg said sound studies look at maximum power levels, an uncertainty factor, and low-frequency tones. He said a study of the Cape Wind project, which proposes placing 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound, determined that it would be below the threshold for human hearing and background noise on the coast.

Kirk Nadeau, president of Kean Project Engineering of Turner, is proposing the construction of three 1.5 megawatt turbines on Streaked Mountain in Buckfield. He said the turbines would produce an average of one megawatt per hour and the energy savings would result in an effect similar to reforestation to offset the permanent change to three acres on the mountain.

On Tuesday, the Buckfield selectmen accepted a citizen petition seeking a 180-day moratorium on wind power development, and the matter will be scheduled for a vote at a special town meeting or referendum at the polls. Nadeau said the project is on hold and no impact studies will be done until the outcome of the vote.

"The first approach for us is community involvement," Nadeau said. "When we have public support, we'll move forward."

Andy Novey, project director with Patriot Renewables of Quincy, Mass., said nine to 11 turbines totaling 18 to 20 megawatts are proposed for the western ridgeline of Spruce Mountain in Woodstock. Novey said the company has done several studies to determine the impact on wildlife and consulted with state and federal agencies on noise, shadow flicker, runoff and other potential issues.

Novey said he is scheduled to go before the Woodstock Planning Board on Nov. 10 to seek a permit for the project.

The forum was sponsored by the Western Maine Economic Development Council, Central Maine Power Co., Healthy Oxford Hills, the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce, Sustainable Oxford Hills and the Western Maine Mountain Alliance.

mlangeveld@sunjournal.com

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Comments

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

Gee Windtruth, do you really

Gee Windtruth, do you really mean the expert may be slanting his report? Let us all remember that for every action there is a reaction and no one can foresee what the reaction here will be. Also, we should ask these developers if they plan to do this development with their own money or are they parasites asking us to fund it (taxpayer dollars from government) so they can sell it to us at a profit? If they do not intend to fully fund it on their own, they in fact are saying it is not viable. If they do build this, will we still need to build standby gas or diesel powered generators for when there is insufficient wind? What will their power cost the electric delivering utilities? Will there really be a saving to offset the visual impact of these units? Conventional, gas and/or diesel plants can be built anywhere they are needed, and are a proven reliable source of power. Also, with new technology they are not as polluting as they used to be. We must also realize that our local pollution comes from mid-western coal burning plants. We have plenty of oil and natural gas in this country especially with the latest discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Dakotas plus the oil bearing rocks in the Wyoming area that we have sufficient amounts of crude available. Also, ethanol distillation is forever making strides and this holds promise. We do not need to desecrate our scenic gifts to make a few developers richer.

 's picture

Whether it be turbines or

Whether it be turbines or other resources for renewable energy, I would rather pay out now than having to put the burden on children and our children's children to pick up the pieces and deal with our/forefather's mistakes. Overtime, it pays off for itself and any kind of renewable resource that is being fed into the Grid is better than none. I think this can be just a small step... however, a positive step towards doing the right thing for our environment. I know that continuing to use fossil fuels for energy-far outweighs any concern compared to turbines. I think people tend to forget that this, our earth-is like a green house. Every single, little thing we do builds and builds and builds... As I commented before, we are the parasites on this earth. We are abusing our privileges and greedy, 'me, me, me'... always taking and NEVER giving back. Its time to make a change, although-I'm afraid its a little late.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

J. Dwight was the only

J. Dwight was the only speaker at the event that garnered applause after pointing out green subsidies are paid by adding to our state and national debt.

He also noted out national debt is currently $13 TRILLION. Wake up AmeriKa!

 's picture

You may want to rephrase

You may want to rephrase that. Google, mars hills wind power law suit, freedom wind power law suit. You might be surprised at what you find. These are large projects that don't belong near people's homes.

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