Carthage wind farm proposal stirs debate

CARTHAGE — Most comments made at Thursday night's informational meeting on a proposed wind farm were critical of the potential development.

Eileen M. Adams/Sun Journal

Nearly 70 people turned out Thursday night to hear information about a proposed 13-turbine wind farm on the ridgeline of Saddleback Mountain in Carthage.

Eileen M. Adams/Sun Journal

Carthage Selectman Larry Blodgett talks with Greater Franklin Development Corp. director Alison Hagerstrom about a proposed wind turbine project. Simulated views of the project are in the background.

It was Patriot Renewables LLC's chance to explain what they plan and what the benefits might be for the town if 13, two-megawatt wind turbines are built on Saddleback Mountain Ridge.

Because the planned site is within visual and sometimes sound distance of many living in neighboring Wilton and Dixfield, some of the nearly 70 people who attended were from those two towns, as well.

At least one person attended from Highland Plantation in Somerset County where another wind project is in the works.

“This mountain is unique. If the noise is too loud, what will you do?” asked former Carthage Selectman Bill Houghton, who helped circulate a petition this month calling for a wind farm moratorium. He said the petition had at least 150 signatures.

An unidentified woman from Dixfield said her home is between the proposed Carthage development and a similar plan in Dixfield. She said the flight path for birds comes through that area.

“There's a wind tunnel there,” she said. “All of a sudden there's no flight path. The flight path goes right up Route 2 and up Saddleback Mountain. I want to see some data.”

Roxbury resident Steve Thurston was concerned that some people living one or two miles from a turbine could suffer health effects.

“Maine's noise regulations are not adequate,” he said.

But Carthage resident Elwin Brown took issue with noise complaints.

“Those snowmobiles are screaming and you don't complain about that,” he said.

East Dixfield resident Richard Hall said he had visited wind farms in several areas in the United States and Canada.

“People who are concerned about noise are wasting their time. I live on Route 2 and truck noise is much, much greater. I wouldn't mind having a wind turbine 1,000 feet from my house,” he said.

Others were concerned that the tops of mountains would be destroyed.

Andy Novey, project developer for the proposed Carthage and Woodstock wind projects, said the tentative plan is to build 13 turbines on private property for which they have a purchase option. If the title on an adjacent 320 acres is cleared to show that it is owned by the town, another four turbines would be built, bringing the total number of megawatt production to 34.

The access road to the turbines would be from the Winter Hill Road in South Carthage. He said the power transmission lines would be built underground to meet a substation.

The wind towers with the blades extended would be just over 400 feet high, and would run on a three-mile ridgeline. The access road would be 24 feet wide, and the ridgeline roads would be 32 feet wide. Both widths would be reduced to 12 feet wide with vegetation. About 800 acres would become conservation easements, he said.

The town would receive about $4,000 a year for each turbine on private property, and about $313,000 a year on a lease from town owned property.

“There are ways to shelter some of that money,” he said.

During construction, up to 100 people would be working. Once completed, three or four full-time people would be needed to maintain the turbines.

He said the closest house or camp not on the project lands is 3,000 feet from a turbine.

The company is working its way through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection permitting procedure. If the remaining environmental studies are completed on schedule, it should be ready for submission by the end of the summer, said Todd Presson, chief executive officer of the Quincy, Mass. firm.

If a moratorium is passed at a special town meeting set for 7 p.m. June 21, then he said the company will continue to move forward, but at a slower pace.

First Selectman Steve Brown said he's not sure what would happen if a moratorium is passed. He said the town has neither a comprehensive plan nor a Planning Board. He said he is checking with the town's attorney on what the next step would be.

Also at the meeting was Alison Hagerstrom, who introduced the Patriot Renewables team. She said she had been working with the company for more than a year.

“We support the wind projects because it diversifies our base in Franklin County,” she said.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Karen  Pease's picture

Saddleback Wind

I was at Patriot Renewable's presentation last night in Carthage. I was not surprised by the fact that the developer dodged each and every pointed question, and I was distressed that more residents did not insist they answer their simple queries. Some of the questions which were side-stepped were these: When Andy admitted that one close neighbor to the proposed development had signed an 'easement', he was asked if that included a confidentiality clause. Would that person who signed it be prohibited from opposing the development, or complaining about any negative impacts, should they become apparent? I'm sorry, that's confidential. Next question. How much of the granite and ledge atop the mountain will be blasted away? It's a 'move and fill'. Nothing will leave the mountain. How much of the project is subsidized? There's a 2 cent per kwh tax production credit. (Period... no mention of tax-payer stimulus funds or other subsidy dollars.) When asked how they KNEW that noise wouldn't bother anyone in the valleys and surrounding communities? There are computer models which tell us. (Aren't they the same developers who put the turbines in Freedom? Those folks could testify as to how good those 'models' are.) When asked if the developer would provide free electricity: We can't. That comes from CMP. When asked how much power their turbines are currently producing: That's confidential. Why is is confidential, if you want people to believe these achieve what they are touted as achieving... Next question, please. ........... In small towns across Maine, residents are hurting from high tax bills. The promise of huge amounts of money from developers is like a life-line, and many aren't able to see the forest for the trees. But the tax benefits are fleeting, and in other towns they have rarely, if ever, approximated their first blush promise. I believe one Freedom resident told me his taxes actually went UP the very first year after PR put their project online........ At one point a resident complained that there were outsiders in the audience with an 'agenda', and I wish now that I'd responded. If any of us from other towns had an 'agenda', it was to try to help and protect the residents of Carthage. We don't want to influence votes, we want to offer our resources and experence, so that each resident votes from a position of knowledge and strength. We were invited because we've been through this before, and we want to help bring the facts to the people of Maine. I wish the people of Carthage well when they vote next week. Remember that a moratorium is not a 'no'... it is a 'please give us breathing room so that we can do what's best for our town, our natural resources, and ALL our citizens.' Who can argue with that? Respectfully submitted, Karen Pease, Lexington Township

Brad Blake's picture

Wind Scam--Go Away!

Why should we allow Saddleback or any other ridge in this beautiful state be blasted away and permanently clearcut for a project whose sole purpose is to suck up Taxpayer subsidies? Its not at all about "clean energy", no matter how Patriot Renewables will spin it. Its about a scam of major proportions that make developers rich at the expense of the ral resources, beauty, and sense of place of our rural communities like Carthage. The profits come from $23.37 per Megawatt Hour of TAXPAYER subsidies (as we run up a $12.4 trillion national debt!) and preferential treatment in the marketplace that forces costly wind power into the system, that is steadily increasing electric rates.
What Patriot Renewables and their supporters tout as the great benefits of this project is like me giving everybody in Carthage a dime. Just pocket change, folks. If they want to come to your town and destroy it, here's what the deal should be: No TIF---you know they will ask for one. Pay full property taxes on full valuation. Just like everyone else. Then, pay an annual impact fee. I suggest 50% of the Production Tax Credit (PTC). Calculate it: if it is a 26 MW project that they say will produce at 30% capacity that is 68.328 million kwh per year. At 2.1 cents per kwh PTC, Patriot Renewables could earn $1,434,888. per year. 50%=$717,444. for the Town of Carthage.
If you allow this scam into town, the town deserves just compensation. If the Selectmen have the guts to tell Patriot Renewables to pay real tangible benefits to the town similar to my suggestion, either Patriot will do so and the town will prosper, albeit with the negative effects of hosting wind turbines, or they will pack up their sketchy plans and high tail it out of town. If they leave, you will know for sure, they didn't want Carthage because of the excellent wind, but they wanted Carthage because it was perceived as a poor town with no wind or land use ordinance that would be a push over for their scam.

Brad Blake's picture

Noise

First, to Kent Hope, you don't have to go to Denmark to understand how bad these turbines are. Just go ask the folks who live near them in Mars Hill and Freedom. Besides, last time I was in Denmark, I saw no topography anywhere near that of Saddleback and Webb Lake and the surrounding countryside.
Second, Turier stood underneath them for a few moments and has declared himself an acoustics expert to tell everyone there is no noise problem. Well, you two---and Patrioit Renewables---there are lots of noise problems. Study acoustics of wind turbines and you will find that the dB A scale noise carries down off the ridge to the people living below and emanates across the valley such that people a mile away can be affected by this audible noise more than the person standing at the base. And these people have to live with the constant roar all the time, not just walk up, stand underneath for 5 minutes and then leave.
Then there is dB C scale infrasound, the type that is regulated by OSHA in factories, construction sites, etc. due to deleterious health effects, but the wind industry fights to keep from being regulated. No wind turbine would be built anywhere near people if this type of low frequency noise were (and it should be) part of the regulations.

Ken Hamilton's picture

Experts

Back and forth; back and forth. Experts everywhere. Well, I'm not. I have in-laws in Denmark (Scandinavia), where they generate 20% of their electricity with these big turbines. (They make them, too.) They have lots of experience with this. Has any of these experts testifying here gone to visit the experts on the other side of the big pond? When you do, please let's hear from you.

Tom Powell's picture

get educated

Turier, you have the basic understanding that most people do about wind power. 5000 wind towers in Maine WILL NOT shut down, reduce, eliminate ONE other fossil power source. To the contrary, wind advocates try to associate wind with hydro as it's backup power source which is not true. The natural gas fired power plants are REQUIRED in order to install wind farms. thus you GUARANTEE fossil power usage by installing wind farms. I work on wind farms all over the country and Maine is the last place in the USA that needs them. Bottom line; without the 30% federal PTC (production tax credit) check the developer stuffs in his pocket 30 days after completion, you would never see a wind tower in Maine.
Also, Transcanada isn't putting up wind towers randomly. They are slippery in tha they are placing the building blocks for a major transmission corridor from Canada thru Maine. Then when wind drives your light bill thru the roof, the can offer you cheaper Canadian power, which the also own. Mainers are being played for dumb hillbillies....so get educated about wind.

ROGER COUTURIER's picture

Once again - not in my back yard!

These are clean power generating facilities. There is no pollution generated yet people reach out for reasons not to allow these installations. "Affect flight path of birds", how ridiculous! I have visited several of these installations out of curiosity and have stood very close to the base and could not hear more than a low level swhish. Mainers once again want to sit back and let the rest of the country watch us lag behind. Keep burning wood, oil or coal and watch the air quality deteriorate.

Lisa Lindsay's picture

Gah!

100 people working? But most or not any from Franklin County! Andy Novey, et al were unable to answer any question during the Q&A with any detail. Either it was "We have computer models" or "We can't tell you that, it's proprietary" or "Next question"...the people of Carthage and YES, their neighbors in other towns who will be impacted (yet not receive a dime of compensation) have the right to detailed answers, too. This is a major, industrial project. Vote for a moratorium and allow yourselves the time to squeeze the answers out of Patriot Renewables. If it's such a great and well-funded project, then what difference will six months make?

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