Selectmen to continue wind-ordinance discussion

RUMFORD — Selectmen may decide whether to place a 42-page proposed wind energy facility ordinance before voters during the Nov. 2 general election at their Thursday board meeting following a special three-hour workshop Monday night.

Eileen M. Adams/Sun Journal

Andy Fisk, representing the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, spoke to Rumford selectmen Monday night on the requirements placed on wind-energy facilities by the agency.

But first, they plan to hold yet another workshop prior to the Thursday meeting.

For nearly three hours, the board listened to John Maloney of Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Andy Fisk of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Neil Kiely of First Wind LLC of Newton, Mass., and some of the 30 or so people who turned out for the meeting, including several who served on the town's Wind Project Advisory Committee, the group that drafted the ordinance.

Kiely, New England director of development for First Wind, said the ordinance as proposed is not something his company could work with. He said that if the proposed ordinance passes in November, such action would be a permanent moratorium.

“It's appropriate to have a law to protect (residents) but it has to be applied fairly. This ordinance is adapted from Dixmont,” he said. Many believe the ordinance approved in the town of Dixmont essentially banned wind development.

The wind company has tentatively proposed constructing a $60 million, 12 turbine project on sections of Black Mountain and a nearby mountain.

Selectman Greg Buccina believes the proposed ordinance is important to protecting residents as well as stringent enough to prevent people from challenging it.

“I think we need to overprotect,” he said.

Selectman Mark Belanger argued that the proposed ordinance essentially outlaws wind development.

“This is a no-win ordinance. Some people want wind. If this passes, it will be totally restricted,” he said.

Maloney said many of the procedural flaws were corrected in the current draft. When asked point blank, he said the ordinance would be workable.

“No matter what you have in the ordinance, people will make decisions on whether they think wind power is good or bad,” he said.

As proposed, the ordinance calls for a mile setback from property lines and a decibel level of no more than 40 during the day.

Fisk, an engineer with the Bureau of Land and Water Quality of the MDEP, spoke of a model that maps sound similar to how the contours of land are on a topographic map.

He also said the original State Planning Office model wind ordinance has been changed since its inception several years ago to include improved ambient conditions, and additional sound testing.

Board Chairman Brad Adley suggested that residents have a chance to vote on either the ordinance written by the Wind Project Advisory Committee or on the State Planning Office model ordinance.

No member of the board supported that idea.

The town is currently in the second six-month moratorium on wind turbine development. Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that expires in December.

The board will meet at 5 p.m. prior to the Sept. 2 regular meeting to continue discussion on the proposed ordinance.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Commonsense

You are quite something getting on here thinking you know everything about wind power and what the Governmental officials are doing to the people here in Maine. It is clear where your priorities and principles are. That nit picking of irrelevant issues is defining in itself.

 's picture

No wind ordinance legal cost risk

Despite the comments by one prominent former town leader, the risk to the town of significant legal costs for approving an ordinance that is too restrictive is a reality. Resources informed me yesterday that the Dixmont ordinance is facing a legal challenge. As stated in the meeting, there is no way to determine if a judge would impose a financial penalty against the town, but it is certain that the legal costs would be significant.

Back when I was on the Rumford Board of Selectmen, the budget for the town attorney was half of what it is today. I understand that rates increase, but the major factor in the doubling of this budget is the number of issues that require legal advice and/or action. This year, the voters approved $28,000 for the town attorney. That is more than many Rumford Residents earn.

Let's be smart and make sure that whatever is put before the voters won't end up costing us more down the road. If this ordinance meets that test, so be it.

Please note that I am neither pro-wind nor anti-wind, but I am concerned for the fiscal well-being of our town.

 's picture

law suits

if citizen's are not protected now, very expensive for town later.

 's picture

Protect

I agree that the townspeople need to be protected from harm, but where it is the townspeople (as the legislative body) who make the rules, I would be curious as to whether or not they could sue the town for not passing a strict enough ordinance.

 's picture

Turbine Noise

Dear Common Sense,

I read your comments on sound and I’ve seen your list before (mostly in wind company’s brochures).

Let’s look at a few of them:

Let’s take that mosquito at 20 decibels. If you’re lying in bed, and all is quiet, how long will you listen to that mosquito before it makes you angry enough to get up and squash it like the bug that it is? Not long!

How about the birds? Got any of those within 10 feet of your bed? Even if you’re out side, how long do they keep it up (and how many are within 10 feet of you any way)?

How about that power mower? Do you take that inside with you when your hard day of mowing is done? No, you probably turn it off and put it away. And how big is your yard, anyway? Mow all winter do you? At night?

Tractor? You or your neighbor probably shut it off at some point and retire, right? Do you use it all winter, night after night (you see, turbine noise is usually more intrusive in the winter)?

Shaver? How long does it take to shave?

Train or truck? Got any within 100’ of your house and how many go by in the course of a day/night? Thousands? Do they keep it up 24/7 like a turbine does sometimes?

Your kid’s stereo you should have some control over, hopefully.

Crying baby? Tough luck. Should have thought of that first! But don’t worry; they usually grow out of that (a turbine lasts for twenty years or so).

Is it loud in your factory? Then your employer is probably making you wear ear protection. If he isn’t, then you should take it upon yourself to protect your hearing. And after eight hours or so, you can hang up your ear protection and go home for some well deserved peace and quiet (unless you have a turbine near by).

How about a chain saw? Maybe the old-times didn’t use ear protection (What’s that you say, young fella?), but most of the younger guys I know use ear protection and are relieved when the day is done and they can get some peace and quiet. (You see, Mr. CommonSense, the turbines aren’t shut off when the day is done.)

The problem with the turbines is that they produce high, low and ultra low frequency noise. It is unlike anything you described in your comments. On a quiet night (20 decibels in the country) the rhythmic swoosh, swoosh, swoosh of the turbines at 40-45 decibels can be maddening. On a logarithmic scale (such as decibels) 40 decibels is way more than twice as loud as 20 decibels. Most people say it sounds like a jet in the distance coming towards you but never gets to you. It’s just there for hours and hours on end. Lots of times it’s the last thing you hear at night (and if you can sleep at all) it’s the first thing you hear when you get up. It can go on for days.

Air stratification, which is very common on Maine hills and very uncommon on the Texas plains, causes blade wobble and a low frequency sound known as “blade thump” occurs. This is the noise that penetrates your house’s wall, rattles the dishes and most people who are familiar with this noise say it sounds like “sneakers in the dryer”.

These turbine noises are very different from your list, Mr. CommonSense and the people who live within a mile or two of your proposed turbines are going to let you know that if you put them up. They may even sue your town like they are in Mars Hill. Why are you so eager to let your town become the next Mars Hill, Freedom or Vinalhaven? We’ve listened to the wind company’s propaganda through all of these projects and every time a new project goes in, people have the same noise problems. When are we going to learn that when it comes to turbines, a mile is the minimum setback people need to mitigate the noise issue?

You forgot to mention the classic “It’s no louder than your refrigerator”. But that received so much derision that I don’t think the wind industry is using it anymore.

 's picture

life of turbine

20 years is an old turbine? I hear, in Maine, turbines might last 10 or 15 years. either way, way too long

 's picture

Spot On!

There is a logging operation near our home. The grating sound of it bounces off our house from 8:00 to 4:00 each day. I hate it even though I know I live in Maine and need to accept that logging hapens. You know why I can tolerate it? Because they're done at the end of the day and they don't work on the weekends. I know there is an end in sight. With these industrial turbines, there is no escape and no control.

 's picture

In a short time you do not even hear this.

Lisan180, that logging operation you speak off is running saws that are 110 decibels in addition to skidders, trucks and other equipment. The 110 decibels from the saw is not 2.75 louder than the wind turbines or anything else for that matter would be at 40 decibels. As I and others have stated decibel increases are not linear by logarithmic. I will not attempt to explain this here. I am sure that you are not living in a vacuum and even when the loggers are not at work, you are continuously being bombarded by sound sources exceeding 40 decibels which was the point of my list of common sound sources of everyday life. As others have pointed out many of these noise sources our brains tune out because they are just consistently there very much like not noticing the refrigerator operating. Having lived in Maine for many years and had a number of logging operations in the area of my home, I can attest to the fact that after a time you don’t even hear them and are even surprised when someone mentions there is logging going on. It is very much like living near a major road, you know longer hear the traffic, even the big trucks. The point I was attempting to make with listing some common items and circumstances and the decibel level associated with them was to put into perspective what 40 decibels is. I don’t think the average person would realize that a quiet office or home office is much louder than the limits being set forth in this proposed ordinance, for example. Or that theirs or their child’s classroom, the TV, or dishwasher is 75 decibels which is much louder still. I don’t think any of us gives much thought to spending eight hours a day at work or in school, going home and flipping on the TV, and turning on the dishwasher after dinner. Many people even sleep with the TV on all night, which means sleeping in a room with 75 decibels just from the TV. Others have politely pointed out that the turbines would not always being putting out sound levels of 40 decibels. There may well be times when it is significantly less as the result of wind and other conditions, 40 decibels is the maximum under this ordinance, which I have studied extensively. Given my own acoustical experience as well as life experience I personally feel that a level closer to 70 decibels which is street traffic and below classroom, and most normal home noise levels with stereos, TVs, computer games, personal, home and home office appliances would be very reasonable.

 's picture

Decibels

I have no way of knowing whether your figures about decibel levels are accurate but they have nothing whatsoever to do with industrial wind farm noise. First of all, every example that you have given is a temporary if not momentary experience. A mosquito for example is something that you walk away from, swat, live with for a couple of seconds in the 2 months of their existence. I don't want to go into all of your examples because they are too too silly. All of them relate to time and distance while wind turbines are forever. One who has to live with them can do nothing about them. The second point is; their are two types of noise frequency associated with turbines. The audible sounds that you mention and can block out or move away from and worse, the low frequency inaudible sound that you can't hear but that can get into your system and create all kinds of havoc. Do a little homework and become enlightened;
www.windaction.org
www.wind-watch.org
www.na-paw.org
www.epaw.org
www.windtaskforce.org

 's picture

Wind Ordinance in Rumford

I am on the planning board of Phillips and we have just finished our 17 page wind ordinance. It is short and to the point. Our ordinance was drafted to protect the communities health and welfare and the wildlife and ecology in our town. Our ordinance is probably the most strictest that I have read so far. Our set backs can be as far as 2 miles, given the number and size of turbines. The DEP is not going to protect our towns from undue adverse impacts from industrial wind development, we as a town need to protect ourselves. We are not saying no to wind development but with our ordinance it is a guarantee that the facility will be sited right the first time.

 's picture

Do the smart thing

The people of Rumford have a wonderful opportunity to protect their town and their property from the scourge of wind sprawl. No matter the topic, there will always be those who see only one thing, money. There can be no other reason whatsoever to invite one of these monstosities into your community. Fortunately, there are still people out there who have values and principles that lie on higher plane than cold, hard cash. If Rumford is lucky, those people will turn out to vote and the town will join the ranks of Maine towns that have shown a greater interest in the long term well-being of their residents and countryside than in succumbing to the false promises of the likes of First Wind for a few bucks.

 's picture

Denmark also pays 3-4 times as much for gas!

It is all well and good to compare the cost of electricity as energy between here and Denmark and say they pay 3 or 3.5 times what we pay. But to suggest that because electricity prices are 3 or 3.5 times higher in Denmark which has been at the forefront of wind power without taking into consideration they also pay 3 to 4 times as much for fosil fuels scews the results. If Denmark shifted power production from wind to fossil fuels the cost of power would rise as demand for the limited fuel supply rose and the cost for fuels for other uses such as transportation would also rise as the limited supply is diverted. The US has enjoyed lower fosil fuel costs than much of the rest of the world. What we pay for are cars and home heating oil, diesel for trucks and trains is directly effected by the overall demand which includes what is diverted for production of electricity. All safe available alternative methods of production, i.e. wind, geothermal (not nuclear) need to be put into play if we are to continue to support a quality of life.

 's picture

I don't do a thing for First

I don't do a thing for First Wind. I am a a business owner and have an education in music as well. I have received some accoustical training with my music education.

 's picture

Don't Become Mars Hill

Rumford should be proud of the extensive work done by their citizen committee to draft a solid ordinance. First Wind cries "foul" about everything if they don't have their way. God forbid the citizens of a town may want to act in the interest of the residents and not the intent of First Wind!
Remember, First Wind is the company that put wind turbines right on top of folks in Mars Hill. They are now being sued by 18 people from Mountain Rd. and East Ridge Rd for the horrendous impacts on their lives and property. This will happen in Rumford unless there is a local ordinance to protect the people.
Ironically, the same Andrew Fisk that was in Rumford last night is the same DEP official who approved the variance that First Wind got in the Mars Hill license, from 45 to 50 dBA. Even this higher level is violated, with First Wind doing nothing to alter the impact on these people.
Black Mt. in Rumford is likely no better spot than Mars Hill. Rumford, protect all of your residents from this insidious intrusion by adopting a strong, but fair, ordinance. If First Wind can fit its plans into this, then fine; if not, your town is better off without them.

 's picture

Would you also suggest we do away with . . .

Since you think 40 and 45 decibels is too much noise from wind power producers would you also suggest we do away quite and home offices (50 decibels), birds (55 decibels) at ten feet away, all concersational speech (60 decibles), street traffice (70 decibles), classrooms for educating our children and adults along with dishwasher which save water and energy (all 75 decibles)? Are we going to curtail the dial tone one the telephone at 85 decibels? What about farmers? Are you going to keep them from using their tractors at 90 decibels? I don't know about Rumford's paper mill, I suspect it is a lot more, but the average factory is 100 decibels, so would you propose we close all factories? Maine depends heavily on logging. Saws are listed as 110 decibles which is many times louder than 40 decibles since decibles are not linear but a multiple. Are you looking to ban them and of course the trucks (105 decibles) that haul the harvest as well? Where is the common sense in this?

 's picture

Speaking on Dixmont

I live in the Town of Dixmont and was heavily involved in the process with much other intelligent and responsible residence from even neighboring towns. I am also a member of the Citizen's Task Force on Wind Power, one of the original members that were formed by a group of professionals from many perspectives. We have collected data on these scale turbines as well as have met with numerous governmental officials (Andrew Fisk being one of them). We have asked for proper impact studies to be included with the project proposals, which do not seem like an unreasonable request given the scale and potential impacts. We looked at facts and asked for transparency, which was like pulling teeth from a bull. What we did find out was that there is activity at a Governmental level that wants to expedite activities they have been deliberating over for longer than 15 years (Board of LURC Public Testimony, Dec, 2009). In my testimony as well as other public speaking I have clarified that with that much time to implement projects at this scale, it was expected that professionals that advocate for a project they consider themselves to be professionals about, that proper and conclusive impact studies would have been on the Legislative table long before LD2283.
It should be evident that something with these land based wind projects is not passing the sniff test and to be very careful what any Town passes for an ordinance. Dixmont in our ordinance did compromise with the distance, but the Developers won't tell you that. An Acoustic Sound Analysis recommended it to be set back even further. It is going to take the people of Maine to realize that maybe these scale models may not be in the best interest of going green in the most responsible way without creating more impacts along the way. This may be a way for the market investors to re-coupe their loses. These scale units are a cap and trade item and First Wind had an advertisement for a job, for a portfolio analysis that specialized in hedge funding. This is someone who knows how to make a cost/benefit analysis look like a product is making money. Be very careful Rumford, Maine does not even have this kind of energy demand, we have the opportunity to show the rest of the Nation how to implement renewable energy in a responsible and efficient the way the people of Maine and beyond are looking for. Please visit: carolyndodge.me

 's picture

Intelligent?

"I live in the Town of Dixmont and was heavily involved in the process with much other intelligent and responsible residence from even neighboring towns," honey your spelling, grammar, and syntax belie the truth of this statement if not the content of your comment. What do you think the state was doing in their delliberations for 15 years if not addressing many of these issues? You clearly do not understand Cap and Trade AKA Waxman-Markey and should read up on it, I suggest Obamanomics: How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses by Timothy P. Carney it is rated 4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com and sells for $5.50. This book has an excellent section on Cap and Trade. Also you clearly have no understanding of investing and I would suggest you stay out of the stockmarket. A protfolio analyist not porfolio analysis specializing not specialized in hedge funds not hedge funding is not someone who knows how to make a cost/benefit analysis look like a product is making money. It is someone who can evaluate assets and current stock prices to determine if stocks are currently under or over prices in order to short or long sell, called hedging.

Carolyn your comment is really sad and goes to show you did not educate your self on any of the issues you included in it. It also elliminates your credibility in speaking to wind power.

 's picture

So what is 40 Decibels?

To give people an idea of just how rediculous the Rumford ordinance is and how it could effect their lives in the very near future by folks insisting the same standards apply to other businesses and even home activities, here are some examples on activities and the noise levels. Keep in mind that wind turbine operations would be limited to 40 decibles and 40 decibles potential is what you could be limited to at home and in your business in the very near future.
Breathing 10 decibels
Mosquito 20 decibels
Library, Livignroom or dining room 30 decibels
LIMIT SET FOR WIND POWER OPERATIONS IN RUMFORD'S PROPOSED ORDINANCE 40 DECIBELS
Quiet office, home office 50 decibels
Birds at ten feet 55 decibels
Conversationoal Speech, Electric Shaver 60 decibels
Street Traffic 70 decibels
Classroom, Barking Dog, TV, Dishwasher 75 decibels
Garbage Disposal 80 decibels
Telephone Dial Tone 85 decibels
Subway, Farm Tractor, Teen's Stereo, Train at one hundred feet 90 decibels
Average factory building 100 decibles
Orchestra, Computer Room, Diesel Truck, Printing Press, Motorcycle 105 decibels
Power Mower, Heavy Truck, Baby Crying, Saw 110 decibels
Shot gun 120 decibels
Cymbal crash 130 decibels
Drag Racing 140 decibels
Chest Wall Begins to Vibrate 150 decibels
Ear Drum Breaks Instatnly 160 decibels
Death of Hearing Tissue 180 decibels

I don't know how you feel, but I am not willing to remove the vocal cords of all the birds, cats, dogs, other animals or babies, and stop conversational speech to keep the Rumford's noise level under 40 decibels. I am also not willing to give up all the business and home offices, electric shavers, the transportation system for people, goods, and services, children's education (classrooms), the diswasher, garbage disposal, TV or my electric raiser. Do we really want to shutdown the mill and the power plants giving up the few jobs they offer? I don't think Tom Bourette would be very happy about closing his printing press nor would his workers. The farmers in the area need their tractors and I do not think they would be willing to go back to horse or ox drawn rigs. Can you picture the loggers giving up their power saws to go back to two man hand saws and axes?

Put into perspective I think most people will realize just how rediculous this ordiance is. This ordinance was drafted by a small group with an ax to grind and diverted this educational committee to one with a very narrowly defined agenda of stopping wind power from coming to Rumford no matter what the cost.

 's picture

So what?

So what if it bans wind. This speaks directly to the fact that industrial wind needs to be sited responsibly. The science is there about how far the sound travels. Even a mile is probably not enough given the data from sound engineers. If First Wind can't work within those safety guidelines, then they will have to find sites that are not so close to dwellings.

 's picture

protecting citizens

the sad part is; if you do not protect the citizens now; lawsuits come later.

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