Carthage wind farm moratorium fails

CARTHAGE — Residents on Monday night narrowly defeated a moratorium that would have slowed plans for an industrial wind farm along Saddleback ridge. The vote was 48-42.

Eileen M. Adams/Sun Journal

Carthage resident, Joan McGill, standing, said people have been hearing he-said, she-said arguments about wind farms at a special town meeting Monday night. She wanted hard facts. Voters eventually defeated the citizens' initiated moratorium by 48-42.

One of the circulators of a petition that forced the special town meeting, Bill Houghton, said he has no plans to take any other action at this time.

“This was about what the people wanted,” he said after the meeting.

First Selectman Steve Brown said the defeat of the six-month moratorium was one less hurdle that the town didn't create.

“They still have a lot of hurdles,” he said, of Patriot Renewables LLC plan to construct 13 wind turbines along the ridge, and another four if the town receives clear title to an adjacent 320 acres.

Brown announced another potential hurdle after the meeting. The 320 acres have been referred to as town lands for decades, and the town has been advertising for heirs of the last known property owner for months.

He said someone claiming to be an heir of Benjamin Weld, whose family was the last known owner, stepped forward Monday afternoon. He said that person has asked the court for an extension to determine ownership. The issue has been in the hands of Rumford lawyer Jennifer Kreckel.

Monday's town meeting began with with a contest for moderator between Carthage resident Hurchial Noyes and Dixfield resident David Harvey. Noyes was elected 30-18.

He stepped down as moderator to give his opinion on wind turbine development.

“If we vote this down, if they (Patriot Renewables) don't go ahead, they won't be here in six months. This is probably our last chance to make some money,” he said.

“Money is not the issue,” said Faye Hutchinson, who asked everyone who lives in South Carthage to stand.

About eight stood up. The access road would be from the Winter Hill Road, off Route 2, which is in South Carthage.

“We were told there was nothing we could do. There's the noise level, a lot of questions. The moratorium doesn't do away with turbines, but gives us time for questions,” Houghton said.

Resident James McGill asked whether the town would be open to a lawsuit by people whose 1,000 acres are under option to buy by Patriot Renewables.

Brown said the town has a legal right to vote on a moratorium, but he didn't know if a suit could be brought.

Joan McGill said the developers have to jump through lots of hoops for the Department of Environmental Protection permitting process.

“Other people are throwing out a lot of he-said, she-said. Let's have some hard facts. You can get guidelines from the DEP, if property values change, that can be proven. You have neighbor against neighbor. Let's have some hard facts,” she said.

Frank Hutchinson agreed that hard facts were needed.

“That's what this moratorium is for. We are saying think it over,” he said.

Donna Berry was ready to call for a vote.

“This is the third meeting of windbagging. Let's vote,” she said.

An overwhelming majority agreed to do just that.

According to Patriot Renewables officials who made a presentation on June 10, plans are to submit the DEP application by the end of the summer.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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 's picture

i am a IMFY

a paragraph from an essay by Karen Pease

The common sense side of me asks questions. Why not invest that same money in individual or neighborhood-based (or solar panels) wind mills? Windmills which are small and have little, if any, impact on our environment or on the quality of life for the animals and citizens in its vicinity? With American ingenuity, we could certainly build the facilities to manufacture these in large numbers, and we have a sizable segment of our population anxious to find good jobs.

These individual power plants could result in thousands of homes being removed from the grid.

Citizens’ electric bills would be lower or even non-existent, and if more power was produced than the homeowners used, it could be sold back to the public utility companies. For example (and I’ll try to use conservative numbers): If one home-sized model cost $20,000.00, then 10,000 individual windmills could be established state-wide for the same amount of money as the Highland industrial wind project will incur. Think of the jobs created; from manufacturing, to set-up, to electrical and maintenance! Think of the money saved on power bills! When you think of home-sized windmills, the power does seem free, and much, much ‘greener’.

Not a NIMBY an IMFY
In my front yard is a windmill; south facing are solar panels,
In my neighbors front yard is a windmill, also south facing, are solar panels.
Neither hears or sees the others.
Their is one town service we utilize.
We drive 2 1/2 miles to haul buckets of town supplied, salted sand.
We hand sand our road.
We live one mile off US highway, on a dirt road, maintained by the land owners.
Fire wood is gathered all year long.
We live off the grid.*
No delivered services.

The federal government subsidizes anyone who sets up alternative energy. ( a 30% tax break)

each individuals move off fossil fuels is a greater green.

 's picture

Karen and Angel, I may have been

a little radical with my comments and I appreciate both your support and allowing me to vent without verbally abusing me for it.
Karen, my issue with the NIMBY crowd is that a large majority of them have problems with development going on around them but are perfectly content for it to go on somewhere else, as long as it's NIMBY. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's wind, solar, nuclear, or hydroelectric, someone always has a reason to oppose it. Everywhere is somebody's back yard and if everyone takes that stance then nothing will get done.
Angel, as far as the long term goes with wind towers, I do agree to some extent. But, wind towers can be dismantled a lot more quickly than, let's say, an oil or coal fired generation plant. The scientific concern regarding climate change and wind towers is that too many of them may actually change weather patterns. Look at the weather now and tell me that it hasn't changed dramatically already.
As I said earlier thanks to you both. As long as there are folks like you out there, this kind of forum is worth the time.

 's picture

NIMBYs, hypocrites and other normal humans...

Aw, Ed. Respectfully, sir...you're going about this all wrong. I am a proponent of land-owner rights... but to a point. We ALL are. But because the effects of what we each do on our property sometimes reaches beyond those property borders, we have, as a society, implemented governing bodies to regulate--to some extent-- our land use practices. Just as I (in LURC territory) can't build a home above 25 feet high, or build near a stream, or paint my roof pink, so are industrial developments regulated. We do not have all-encompassing rights, because many things we do impact those other property owners and residents in the same vicinity. Our actions can affect-- not only our human neighbors, but those wild animals and native plants and ecosystems in the neighborhood, too.
I understand your point. We all feel the desperation of knowing we depend on foreign countries for a vital resource, and we have been inundated with warnings about global warming, too. But scientists with nothing to gain and much to lose by taking a stance are stepping forward and saying that there is a very good possibility that the environmental impacts of industrial wind may actually be detrimental to climate change, rather than having the positive effect we once thought. In fact, if you listen to IW developers as of late, you will see that they, themselves are getting much quieter about wind's 'greeness' when they tout their projects to the public. That's because we NIMBYs-- those of us who feel it is necessary to protect our natural resources (since those charged with the job are dropping the ball)--we NIMBY's are having some limited success in educating the public regarding the FACTS about mountaintop industrial wind. We're not fanatics. We're not looneys. And we're not selfish. We are normal human beings who have courage... courage to stand up and try to stop what we feel is a terribly misguided plan which could have long-term consequences for short-term and negligible gain. I hope you will keep an open mind. And don't feel like a hypocrite... you are honestly expressing your opinion. We're both lucky to live in a country where we can (and should) do exactly that. Respectfully submitted, Karen Pease, Lexington Twp., ME http://karenbesseypease.blogspot.com/

 's picture

I am so tired

of hearing people whine about how bad the wind industry is. I'm also tired of hearing about how the people who voted them in are poor deluded fools who who don't know what they're getting into. And perhaps most of all, I'm tired of hearing from the NIMBY radicals who think that the flight paths of bats and the view of the mountains is more important than finding a source of renewable energy, even a sketchy one like wind.
Do you people really think that tourism is going to be hurt because there are wind towers in Maine??? Look at where the tourists come from and a week in Hell is probably a step up. There is no way that anyone but the most radical naturalist tourist would think twice about coming just because there are wind turbines and most of our tourists are not that kind of person. I like the views but not enough to turn away an opportunity that will (even if only a little bit) help because of conflicting "scientific" findings and worry about possible, again, POSSIBLE, mechanical failures.
As for the land owners who want to make money, it's their land and if they want to put a nuclear power plant on it they should be able to without needing permission from the town. Nowhere in anybody's bill of sale for land does it include guaranteed views or freedom from annoying sounds or radiation.
Cover the hills with wind towers, and cover every roof with solar panels. Put a small nuke plant in the industrial park in Rumford, claim the Rumford Falls power plant by eminent domain. Build cost efficeint Hydrogen fuel cells for cars, Do anything that we can to get us away from our dependence on oil, foreign and domestic.
This disaster in the Gulf will be the death of this country in the long run as the full effects become clear.
And before you say it, yes, I'm a hypocrite because I use gas and oil for my car just like the rest of you. At least I'm willing to admit I'm a hypocrite.

 's picture

Sad Day for Carthage

What a sad day for Carthage. Any time there is such a close vote for a moratorium exemplifies exactly why moratoriums are needed. The push for wind turbines is like a runaway train. It plows through unprepared towns with too much speed. Citizens are constantly denied the time to actually get to understand an issue that has tremendous, deleterious impact on their community, their wellbeing, and their natural resources. The rails for this runaway train were greased by the legislature's passage (without proper citizen input and without any legislators actually understanding what they were voting for!) of the heinous "Expedited Wind Permitting" statute in 2008. This is happening throughout the state in support of an industry that wouldn't exist without deep TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES and without the greed of those who profit, from hedge funds to the locals who sell out their community for turbine site leases. It is good reason to have a statewide moratorium on further land-based industrial wind development before we have ruined our beautiful state.

 's picture

Sorry to hear that, Carthage

The 48 who voted down the moratorium have spoken. You apparently won't know what you've got 'til it's gone. Start saying your prayers that Patriot Renewables who own a total of THREE turbines (which they didn't even build) knows what they are doing. Any company with this much of an impact on a town that will not look you in the eye and give you a straight answer when asked a direct question is out for themselves, not for you. Greed and stupidity ruled once again.

A year from now, if they start this project, those who tried to slow it down and get some answers will say, "We told you so."

 's picture

DEP protects developers

Joan McGill said, "the developers have to jump through lots of hoops for the Department of Environmental Protection permitting process."
the Maine DEP permitting process is a joke. They approve all wind projects and give variances if turbine noise exceeds permitted levels. Has Ms. McGill heard of Mars Hill?
48 fools in Carthage have sold out for the hope of a few crumbs from this subsidy sucking wind developer that will ruin the town and surrounding area. Industrialized forever.
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