First Wind polls 175 Rumford residents on wind farm, town ordinance

RUMFORD — Five days after selectmen approved placing a proposed wind power ordinance on the Nov. 2 ballot, developer First Wind began polling townspeople by phone.

They wanted to know whether the more vocal wind power opponents they'd encountered at municipal meetings spoke on behalf of the whole town, spokesman John Lamontagne said Thursday.

Earlier this year, First Wind of Boston, tentatively proposed a $60 million project to build 12 turbines on sections of Black Mountain and a nearby mountain.

Rumford voters, however, enacted a moratorium on wind power development until a law regulating such development could be drafted and presented to voters in November. Selectmen voted 4-1 to put the draft ordinance on the ballot.

Lamontagne said First Wind polled 175 residents on Monday and Tuesday to learn whether they favored the company's project.

“The primary purpose of this was to determine what kind of support there was for this project we're proposing in Rumford,” he said. “We're looking at investing quite a bit of money into Rumford, and so we don't want to move ahead with something if there's not significant public support for it.”

Lamontagne said the company would not reveal what it learned during the polling.

“It's something we did for our own purposes,” he said. “It's not for public consumption."

He said it's not unusual for First Wind to poll before making a significant investment. The company also wanted to know whether those polled supported the proposed ordinance, which residents will hear about at a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, in Muskie Auditorium at Mountain Valley High School.

“The wind ordinance that's been written is something that largely sends a message of anti-business to a company like ours, so we want to find out from local folks if that's something they would support,” Lamontagne said.

While Lamontagne wouldn't reveal the questions asked in the survey, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said he was among those polled.

Whether the polling service knew it, Puiia and Selectmen Brad Adley and Greg Buccina helped the board's Wind Power Advisory Committee draft the ordinance.

“A lot of it centered around trying to create an awareness of the contents of the local ordinance,” Puiia said of the poll. “Very noticeably, it was a biased interview, meaning it was in their favor to try and make the citizens aware of the setback requirements.”

The requirements would site wind turbines at least:

*  2,500 feet from property lines of landowners not leasing land to the wind developer.

* 1,500 feet from a public way.

* 1,200 feet from any above-ground electric power or telephone line.

* One mile from any residence, business, school, day care facility, church, hospital or other occupied structure on any non-project parcel.

* 2,500 feet from any scenic or special resource of state or national significance.

At a board workshop last month on the ordinance, First Wind Project Manager Neil Kiely said the mile-long buffer was nine times more restrictive than the standard recommended by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

“A 1-mile buffer around the entire project could be 6,000 acres,” Kiely said. “In reality, when working with landowners, putting together a puzzle that large is daunting.”

Another issue was blade glint, which the ordinance defines as the intermittent reflection of the sun off the surface of wind turbine blades. It is prohibited in the proposed ordinance.

Puiia said the pollster told him that the blade-glint restriction isn't relevant in other communities that have created wind power ordinances.

“They were, I think, trying to get their point across, feeling that it's a very restrictive ordinance that would, in their opinion, prohibit wind development,” Puiia said.

“It was interesting," he said. "Mostly, it was centered on the contents of the ordinance itself, things that they thought were not in their best interests, which again, it's their survey and they're going to do it the way they want to.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

You have it all wrong

This is bottom line. In capitalism, if you use your own investors money and not tax money for your enterprise, you are entitled to claim "proprietary information". Once you have crossed that line to being dependent on tax money for your sole means of existing, which is the case of First Wind, the taxpayers have the right to know on what information you base the claim to line up for even more tax money. First Wind refuses to divulge meteorological date because they are concerned about how embarassing it would be and about the types of questions might arise that would put out even more doubt about their proposal. I'm a taxpayer. I demand that you provide real answers when you are asking for tax support of any type.

 's picture

john l

How can you tell when John Lamontagne is lying? Answer: His mouth opens. He sneaked around Lincoln and bribed his way with the Planning Board and Appeals Board. He wanted industrial turbine structures sited in a Rurl Residential zone and told some that" They can't stop us. They can slow us down maybe." When the DEP, DIFW, LURC and the Supreme court are siding with the crooked developers and the Baldacci cabal, the cards are indeed stacked in their favor. The moratorium and wind specific ordinance are the best tools to deal with the schiesters, because they have slippery lawyers from Bangor to Portland and probably Boston too. Rumford needs to protect the people, critters and scenery. HydroQuebec is so close and 6 cents per kw/h would help the businesses and townsfolk too. CMP and BH do not want the competition. Angus King should have known that back when he pushed them to break up the trans. and gen. facilities. Maybe he did? Did that favor the invasion of windsprawl mountain hating developers? There is so much info kept from the people. John L. keeps the meager output a secret and the push poll results too. Make your best guess why. Not all business is good business. Remember the nuke dump they wanted under Bottle Lake? Some locals wanted that! Anything for the Haynes family. Thankfully, enough stood up and turned that away. Windsprawl is not needed either. It doesn't make enough power to bother with and the destruction is not worth it.

 's picture

Spirit of the Mountain who

Spirit of the Mountain who has I choosen to write under a pseudonym as have I, I am not Candiceanne, she writes under her name. Why she does it, I have no idea given the lack of intellectual capacity of so many on this site and within the communities covered by this rag. She certainly demonstrates far more integrity and courage than either you or I. I have a business and unfortunately have to deal with a lot of the same intellectual and social morons face to face as appear daily and bite my tongue. Since I would rather work than collect welfare as the vast majority do, I must express myself under a pseudonym. I respect others right to have an opinion different then mine, that is not, unfortunately, a common trait. I shall however, after some consideration, confess and accept your error as a compliment since, while I may not always agree with Candiceanne, here posts are always well thoughtout, researched, and supported. Out of all the posters on this site, if I am going to be mistaken for someone, she is one I would certainly choose to be mistake for over most. Regretably, I am not free to be Candiceanne or to post under my true name. Perhaps someday Spirit of the Mountain you will feel free to divulge your true identity to us.

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Why lie Spirit of the

Why lie Spirit of the Mountain? Do you not realize that anyone who is on this site is on a computer and capable of Googleing these places?
Altamont Pass has the highes concentration of turbines and is one of the oldest wind farm in the US with original turbines that were only 60-80 feet tall. This was also the reason for the high death rate of birds such as American Bald Eagles that your radicals were so hept on quoting; you just left out the numbers were out of date, see http://www.eoearth.org/article/Altamont_Pass%2C_California. This facility began in 1981 and has been being retrofitted with new turbines that are 200-260 feet tall that address the bird issue and it is not an abandoned facility by any means. IT IS CONTINUOUSLY BEING MODERNIZED AND UPGRADED! Even wikipedia which is about the least realiable source for research information concurs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Pass_Wind_Farm. There is information on Tehachapi and San Gorgonio in these same articles and more that can easily be found by typing in their names in Yahoo search or Google. All of these facilities continue to be modernized and yes, even EXPANDED! It is so very important to verify information that you read in these posts people.

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Reasonable confidential propietary information

It is easy for those in business and industry to understand that business and industry do not release proprietary information. That would include production information, operating costs and surveys conducted for the purposes of determining business direction. You just do not do the competitions leg work for them Anyone in business understands that this is frustrating for those who are not in the world of business and do not understand how business works but that does not change the necessity of keeping this information confidential. I am not in the wind power industry and I do not expect them to release this information, the anticipated production information, their business plan or any aspect of their projected profit and loss over the next twenty years (the anticipated life of a turbine). From experience, I will say I expect significant losses during this phase of permiting and construction delays due to moratoriums especially as these firms invest large amounts of investor capital in a volatile stock market (the reason one writer noted a wind power firm was advertising for a hedge fund analyst) while they are unable to build and get down to the business of producing power. I also expect greater losses with the ever increasing costs of dealing with the increased legal expenses from these rediculous and unnecessary delays not to mention inflation.

People outside these companies are not entitled to this proprietary information but, what they are entitled to and should be availing themselves of is real education and as much first hand knowledge as possible. Visit as many wind farms as possible. Learn about the issues of sound and visual impacts such as flicker from a scientific perspective i.e. how many decibels do various items you are familiar with emit so you can put wind power and everything else for that matter in perspective. The same with flicker and glint. Consider letters to the editor and articles which do this as well such http://www.sunjournal.com/letters/story/911382 a recent letter by Robert Poisson appearing in SJ, Sept 23, 2010 with comments that included additional comparisons. Beware however of articles, letters and other writings of the personal attack and unsubstantiated doomsday variety. Where common sense wills out Maine will too and communities will benefit, where it doesn't long term adverse economic impact will be the result.

 's picture

Push Poll

A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as a poll.

Push polling has been condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants, and is illegal in New Hampshire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Push_poll

 's picture

I think the key phrase in

I think the key phrase in your wiki info was "large numbers of respondents are contacted." Last year over 1115 people turned out to vote on wind power in Rumford 751 voted in support of wind power development in Rumford and 364 voted opposed; that is 67% voted in favor or more than 2 to 1. The survey was only of 175 people which would be just 16% of the turnout the last time the issue was voted, certainly not what would qualify as "large number of respondents" contacted with the hopes of impacting the vote with any information that the survey takers may have provided. Given the "discontent" of the electorate with the way the state and country are being run along with the fact that there will be several important local matters to be decided (at least for a few days when a special interest group goes to the selectmen and says we got it wrong anti-wind probably being one) in Rumford, there should be a very big turn out, surveying 175 wont make a bit of difference no matter how convincing the surveyors are. I expect we will see at least the 1115 we saw the last time around. A note to Town Manager Carlo Puiia and the Rumford Board of Selectment; Gentlemen, you have all taken oaths to uphold the charter, by-laws, and ordinances of Rumford as well as the Constitutions of Maine and these great United States, once we all vote down Black Mountain AGAIN and support economic development by voting down this wind ordinance which would stop not only wind power but all industry and business from coming to Rumford, respect the will of the people. Also, please, do the right thing and at the same time set an example and prosecute those who have made a mockery of your offices and demonstrating a wanton disregard for the will of the people by threatening you to get their way in the wind ordinance matter.

 's picture

Northwoods, would this be the

Northwoods, would this be the same as the paper mills letting you hike and hunt on their land all these years after the mills have been built, and snowmobile, and run ATVS and of course the big Rally races through the woods every year. Would this be like the lumber companies shutting you all off their property. And of course the paper mills don't support the local sports teams or the schools or any of the other local charities, why would they, they are here. You are the one that is so full of crap. The wind turbine people are going to be here in our state and in our communities. They are going to want to be good neighbors and maintain and encourage as much goodwill as is reasonably possible just as the lumber companies and paper mills have. With your attitude nothing and no one will ever be good enough and there will never be anything built here, no tax base and no jobs.

 's picture

Hmmmm Sounds like a tourist

Hmmmm Sounds like a tourist attraction to me! Wonder if the state and local businesses might make some money from people coming to see the wind farms?

 's picture

northwoods_maine said: "Try

northwoods_maine said: "Try to ask them for their production numbers as a percent of the turbines capacity. That's also always "not for public consumption" it's "privildged information". Sorry Mr. Lamontangne, you want to permanently disfigure our mountains and ridgelines to line your corporate coffers with OUR tax dollars - we demand to know what the production numbers are so that we can intelligently judge the cost to benefit ratio".

Precisely.

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