First Wind opens office in Rumford

RUMFORD — With a pending $60 million wind farm project on the line, Boston-based wind developer First Wind has rented an office at 180 Congress St., spokesman John Lamontagne stated via e-mail late Tuesday afternoon.

“We are not planning to staff it full time, but (will) instead use it as a base of operations as we launch our efforts to inform the citizens of Rumford about the benefits of wind energy and the serious flaws with the anti-wind ordinance that was placed on the Nov. 2 ballot,” Lamontagne said.

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

Their Longfellow project instantly created a rift between pro- and anti-wind residents in Rumford.

Voters, however, enacted and then extended a moratorium on such projects to develop a law regulating such development.

Few residents attended the first of two public hearings on Monday night on the proposed ordinance that was described as a protective measure for townspeople.

It was drafted by the Board of Selectmen's appointed Wind Power Advisory Committee and promptly labeled anti-wind by First Wind's Director of Development, Neil Kiely, and as anti-business by Selectman Mark Belanger.

When presented to selectmen on Sept. 15, the board approved it 4-1 with Belanger the lone dissenter.

Since then, board Chairman Brad Adley attempted to put a second less-restrictive ordinance on the ballot but withdrew it last month after learning it's only a state template and not a working ordinance.

Adley and Belanger have also been threatened and publicly accused of taking bribes from First Wind, because of their stance on the proposed ordinance. Town Manager Carlo Puiia said he, too, was also targeted.

Adley and Puiia declined to reveal who they said threatened to start a recall against them for “unethical behavior” if they put a second wind ordinance on the ballot.

“It's like a car accident, it's gotten personal,” Adley said recently.

“It got nasty. I got a call from a lady in New York and a couple of threatening e-mails from her after."

"I've gotten nasty e-mails," he said. "It's almost like there is an outside influence working this and there very well could be. It's like they're using a playbook.”

All Puiia would say is that it “was local residents that were discussing the removal of two selectpersons for unethical conduct and myself included.”

He said no town official has taken any bribes.

“It's very ironic that those that point the finger at the developers for having a lack of ethics would resort to tactics of bullying or insinuations that would be damaging to the credibility of the individual that's serving,” Puiia said.

Messages to Belanger have not been returned, but he spoke about being threatened by committee members via a letter to the editor published on Sept. 29 in the Rumford Falls Times.

“It troubles me to think that members of this committee and others who support them would resort to political blackmail to coerce the majority of the board,” Belanger wrote.

“I can assure you that I have not taken anything from First Wind, not even as much as a coffee,” he said. “They were nothing but professional throughout this whole process.”

Late last month, First Wind polled 175 Rumford residents by phone to learn whether they favored the Longfellow project and to create an awareness of the proposed wind ordinance. Lamontagne declined to reveal what they learned.

Residents can view and discuss the ordinance at the special business meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, in Muskie Auditorium at Mountain Valley High School, and at the second public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, in Rumford Falls Auditorium.

Kiely, from First Wind, is scheduled to talk about the ordinance at both meetings.

Lamontagne said the First Wind office at 180 Congress St. is considered temporary pending the outcome of the Nov. 2 vote. Balloting is from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2 at the American Legion near First Wind's new office.

“We will be making a permanent commitment to an office in Rumford if the proposed Longfellow project is allowed to proceed,” Lamontagne said.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Fight the Corruption

There is so much money, power and corruption behind the wind industry it is almost beyond comprehension. As a means of leveling the playing field I suggest that every community pass new laws. These laws would have to do with the killing of rare and endangered species. Because the propeller style wind turbine is so deadly, setting up a wind farm is really no different than deliberately trying to shoot at these species or set up deadly snare traps. It is a very deliberate act with a totally predictable outcome to protected bird and bats. They will be killed. Local laws need to be passed that make it illegal to "Take" protected bird and bat species with the propeller style wind turbine. In legal language "take" means kill. The propeller style wind turbine needs to be designated as an illegal means to kill. Then the wind business can be designated as an illegal activity and circumvent any need for mortality mitigation and incidental take permits. These are the wind industries most precious tools for their corrupt activities. For those that do not know, the incidental take permit was created during the 1990's in Washington DC specifically for the wind industry and with the help of the USFWS. It allows the wind industry to legally kill protected and endangered species.

 's picture

say what?

Candiceanne, do you have a problem with reading comprehension? I said I do not know anybody there nor do I own property there. I do live in Lincoln a mill town which has the same problems as Rumford. Town officials who love to spend and do not know how to cut. The mill got a big tax break to restart and our taxes went up.Whatever bribes the windsprawllers offer it is not worth the environmental degradation. The DEP and the NRCM have decided not to do their jobs and protect the environment, so it is up to the people to enact a tough ordinance. If your residents voted for wind power it is because they were not informed of the truth. The wind industry will exaggerate, twist and invent new "facts". They are not to be believed. When any Maine community is presented with the facts they will vote windsprawl down. Check the disaster the wind industry has wrought on the European economy with the labor riots over gov. spending. C02 has risen. Coal imports have gone up. Where are the benefits the wind industry promised?(blowin' in the wind) It is like in Jay when the mill controversy split the town. Rumford will get along fine without windsprawl as well as all other Maine communities. Now Candy, are you leasing land to FoulWind? That is usually the case when pro winders speak out in small towns.

 's picture

beware

Rumford...TIME OUT!!! Look what is already happening to your town. Infighting and suspicions, accusations and threats? Is it really worth it? Get a tough ordinance on the books and protect the citizens. If you get in too deep the windsprawl company will threaten your council either directly or in a veiled sort of way with lawsuits if they do not get their way. They are the worst of the worst and will hire lawyers from Bangor to Portland to screw over your town. I do not know anybody from your area nor do I own property there. I can honestly tell you without reservation and for certain that these windsprawl developers are bad for any Maine town and you will be well served to show them the way out of town(and state). You do not need them .Thank you.

 's picture

1st wind

I heard first wind speak 3 times last month (in public)

Mary Nolette's picture

Tell you what you want to hear.

The wind company spokespeople will lie directly through their teeth to get what they want. Smooth talkers.
They have no problem stabbing the community in the back.
BEWARE.
They are not above using dirty tricks and fuzzy science.

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