Wind ordinance debate heats up

RUMFORD — Of the 50 or so people who attended Thursday night's public hearing on the proposed wind power ordinance, most who spoke either praised or condemned the work of the Wind Power Advisory Committee which drafted the document in seven months.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

At Thursday night's public hearing on Rumford's proposed wind ordinance, First Wind project manager Neil Kiely, right, and Selectman Greg Buccina spar verbally about how Buccina and the selectmen's Wind Power Advisory Committee could draft a law to regulate wind farms and understand technical issues without visiting such facilities.

Many also strayed far from the topic at hand — the ordinance itself and whether they support it or not — and delved into the pros and cons of wind power, allegations about Boston-based wind developer First Wind, and wind power overseas and in other parts of the nation.

First Wind has tentatively proposed constructing a $60 million, 12-turbine project on sections of Black Mountain and a nearby mountain.

The hearing was the second of two on the ordinance, which will be voted on in less than 20 days.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Brad Adley, who ran the meeting, asked participants to stick to the topic, gave them time limits and then readily let people violate them unfettered because he said it was the last hearing.

And speak people did, sometimes in heated, rapid-fire debate as when Selectman Greg Buccina and First Wind project manager Neil Kiely argued about how and why the ordinance was created and whether experts in the fields of wind turbine noise and health and safety issues were consulted.

“If you were truly interested in regulating wind and protecting others' safety, how could you not go visit a facility?” Kiely asked of committee members and previous speakers who said such facilities only generate one or two jobs.

“Because if you had visited a facility you would see that there are 10 to 12 people on the site. In a nutshell, this is a simplistic approach we're looking at. I mean how could a committee meet for over a year to regulate wind energy and not bother to go to a site? How is that feasible?”

He then delved into how anyone could say that the committee didn't copy Dixmont's ordinance verbatim, which has been labeled as anti-wind.

“There are 15 pages of technical sound standards and nobody knows what they are,” Kiely said of Dixmont's standards that are in the Rumford ordinance. “If nobody knows what they are, how can you use them to regulate health and safety?”

Buccina argued that the committee did understand the technical information, but Kiely and others didn't buy it.

“The point is, if you copy information wholesale from another ordinance like the dog ordinance, how do you know what they said? These are highly technical documents,” he said.

Directing comments to committee members who said they put their personal feelings for wind power aside, Kiely implied that those anti-wind feelings would seep into the document, which prompted committee member Jim Thibodeau to reiterate that he didn't let his anti-wind stance cloud his judgment.

All along Thibodeau and others have said they drafted the ordinance to protect town residents and not to serve the needs of wind developers.

Buccina argued with Kiely that when he worked on the ordinance's technical portions, he relied on the opinions of experts and then applied that to protect the town's assets.

“This is a wind ordinance for Rumford,” Buccina said. “It's not about First Wind. The people of our community need to be protected.  . . . If it has commonality with another town's ordinance, then so be it.”

He also said that any of Rumford's ordinances can be tweaked if the guidelines are later proven to be incorrect.

Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association in Augusta, said he reviewed the ordinance with wind developers and sided with Kiely's evaluation.

“This ordinance can only be characterized as anti-wind,” Payne said. “There's a clear consensus that if this is passed no wind company will ever build a wind farm in Rumford.”

First Wind acoustics engineer Scott Bodwell explained why Payne's statements are correct. He said that the noise limits are so restrictive that a company doesn't have to operate its turbines at all and they would still violate the standards.

“This town would be better served if it rejects the ordinance and works with a certified acoustical engineer on a new ordinance,” Bodwell said.

Despite statements from committee members that they did not copy Dixmont's ordinance, Bodwell said they copied Dixmont's standards on noise verbatim, except for a few instances that were made even more restrictive.

“Any representations that a responsible wind developer could comply with this ordinance are simply untrue,” Payne said.

“From the sound standards to the 1-mile setback to the decommissioning standards, it's just totally and completely unworkable. This ordinance as proposed conveys one very loud message to the wind development community: 'We don't want your investments, your jobs, or your property tax contributions.'”

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 's picture

Problem is

windmills do not work on hot summer days when power use is peak. No wind when we use air conditioners etc. Build them. just do not use tax payer money. They will never be built that way. If they are so great why does every one need subsidies? Windmills will only benefit those who are destroying our country by over spending on something already tried/ Why is there no one bragging about their effectiveness at all. Looks to me like most of the supporters are subjective, hence: They plan to make money on this even if they have to steal it from us taxpayers and I am quire sure that is the only money made besides laborers used to build them and the money they take will be ours and cold be spent in a wiser fashion.

 's picture

I received two important text

I received two important text messages from news services I subscribe to this morning. 1) Obama is looking at forcing inflation, just what we need 2) France is bracing for strikes over fuel shortages, bet the French are damn glad they have electricity from wind power which does not require fossil fuels to heat their homes at least so they don't freeze this winter.

 's picture

Wind Whiners

Neil Keily of course wants a pro wind ordinance, so he calls anything otherwise anti wind. He is a self serving greed merchant. Wind turbines are the latest example of out of state, out of country corporate interests coming to Maine to exploit it. Didn't the mill have a ruckus years back with foreign takeover? If you support wind turbines you are supporting Iberdrola from Spain and Abu Dhadi banks and energy investors. There goes more American dollars to the Middle East. What would Maine look like if there were 50 windsprawl blights the size of Mars Hill all over the state? That would be just the beginning. The person who lives in Rumford says the mill is noisy and the traffic noise and soot are annoying but he got used to it. That is your choice. I wouldn't think you would want things to get worse with windsprawl. Mars Hill had a tiny tax drop the first year after the turbines started, but they climbed right back up and are higher than ever now. It was a scam to trick the residents. The Stetson wind tech travels around so they do not have to hire one for each project also. The jobs created do not deserve a TIF. The idea was for a TIF to lure manufacturing jobs to an area, not give money away to one developer with a different name for each project it starts. UPC,Evergreen, Firstwind,Champlain, etc. ad nauseum. No wonder the state is in the red giving away tax money to corporations. What business wouldn't like to have their taxes reduced with double depreciation? Maine needs to get tough and stop the giveaways when only a few jobs are created. Wash. County has used part of its TIF money but if it can only be used in the Unorg. Territory, it may never be used. Does the money go back to the windscammers ? It makes one wonder. The turbine tourism idea makes me think someone is on drugs or are legally insane. Turbine tours? Please say you were joking, that just makes me sick. Maine needs to attract good businesses.Windsprawl does not qualify. If Mass. needs energy let them put a nuclear reactor on the Harvard campus. Maine's obligation to Mass. stopped in 1820. Save Maine's mtns!!

 's picture

First Wind's forum

I wasn't there, but judging from this article, it seems to me that the town allowed the conniving carpetbaggers from Worst Wind to dominate. Just like in Lincoln, where citizens were allowed only 2 minutes at the planning board and 5 minutes at town council, but the representatives from Worst Wind were allowed unfettered time to spew out their lies and propaganda. Having sat through way too many Worst Wind sessions in Lincoln and several other towns, I can attest to their misrepresentations, half-truths, deceipt, and outright lies. It appears in Rumford, they are even worse, in attack mode, attacking the local citizens and their efforts to protect all of the people who live in the town. It seems to me if any Rumford citizen was paying attention, the attacking arrogance of Worst Wind should be enough to vote for the wind ordinance and send these thieves packing out of town. Then, in the River Valley, on to boot out Patriot Renewables, too!

 's picture


“If you were truly interested in regulating wind and protecting others' safety, how could you not go visit a facility?” Kiely asked of committee members and previous speakers who said such facilities only generate one or two jobs.
Because if you had visited a facility you would see that there are 10 to 12 people on the site. In a nutshell, this is a simplistic approach we're looking at. I mean how could a committee meet for over a year to regulate wind energy and not bother to go to a site? How is that feasible?”
I have been to Freedom more than once and Stetson and have NEVER seen one, not one, wind employee on site. More lying bs from the wind company. He is correct; you should go to a site and see for yourselves. I am willing to bet that you will not see more than one employee if that on any given day as well. I am so sick of lying as the norm in this new culture of ours I can't begin to tell you. He is LYING!!!!

 's picture

Any tax relief from those turbines?

First Wind keeps talking about the $60,000.000 investment in Rumford, but 7 of those turbines will be in Roxbury. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that means only about 37,000,000 will be invested in Rumford. If they actually intended to pay the current tax rate of 24 mills on their investment, they would pay the town about $888,000. per year. Sounds pretty good, right? Wouldn’t people’s tax bills go down in Rumford? The answer is yes, but only by a very tiny amount. What people forget is that a town’s school and county appropriation is driven by the town’s total value. Rumford’s value right now is about $734,000,000 and if you drive that up by $37,000,000 (which is only about 5%), then your county tax and school tax increases eat up any tax relief. Of course the other towns in the school district don’t mind a bit, because any increase in Rumford’s share of the school and county budgets means a small decrease in their county and school taxes.

Even in small towns where the turbine project doubles the town’s value, the tax relief was only about $120. per $100,000. of valuation. The figures I just quoted were done by the State of Maine’s Municipal Revenue Division. Let’s face it, if you think the turbine project will reduce your taxes in Rumford, you’ve got another think coming!

But First Wind has absolutely no intention of paying their fair share. If the ordinance is voted down, and they get their way, they are going to ask for a TIF. So instead of paying the town $888,000 per year, they are only going to pay the town $266,000 and put the other $622,000 back in their pocket. And to add insult to injury, First Wind gets to depreciate the turbines by 2-3% per year by claiming them as personal property. Sweet deal for First Wind, huh! (Not so hot for Rumford.)

That $266,000 the town receives cannot be used for tax relief, either. It can only be used for “economic development” within the TIF district. No swimming pools and no ball parks for the kids either. Most towns reconstruct a few miles of roads at $150,000 per mile, hire an economic development director, and spend a fair amount on yearly lawyer fees to administer the TIF. Lincoln is going to buy a building, tear it down and put up a parking lot…cost, $1,000,000 The state has to approve everything, too.

Some towns use a portion of the TIF funds to promote tourism. That’s kind of a joke isn’t it? They just covered their hills with turbines, so how are they going to promote tourism?

The TIF would be worth it if the project created enough good paying jobs, but the average is one good paying permanent job for every 6 to10 turbines. And as First Wind gets more projects across Maine, I see them centralizing repair work and keeping a skeleton crew in places like Rumford.

Vote to protect your neighbors, wind turbines are just not worth it.

 's picture

Logic Does Not Work

Your logic doesn't work, Question Everything and the people of Rumford who lived through last years tax disaster know it. We saw what happened with the abatements to NewPage and Brookfield Power. We saw the impact on our taxes of the reduction in valuation on those properties and that experience taught us first hand what will happen in the reverse senario with an increase in valuation on a property such as would occur with wind power our taxes would drop considerably and that would be great news. We also know that a TIF can be asked for but it does not have to be given. We know that there are limits on TIFs and that our selectmen and economic development committee have plans for the TIFs available in Rumford and they do not include a wind development. Remember we have the Gateway Project, an industrial park, a business park and there has recently been talk of a chain hotel coming into town all of which would take priority over wind development when it comes to Rumford TIFs. Rumford officials are going to hold on tightly to our TIF allocation for projects such as these.

The Libra Foundation and Maine Winter Sports does not agree with you that putting up wind turbines makes promoting tourism in a community a joke. They want Black Mountain to run the lifts during Spring, Summer, and Fall carrying tourists to the top of the mountain to waiting trams to take tourists on tours of the wind development and make Black Mountain self-sustaining, God forbid maybe even profitable and not hitting taxpayers up for handouts every year for the first time. Libra and Maine Winter Sports believe that the wind development would give Rumford a tourist destination, our one and only. We might actually have a reason for a hotel chain to build here. The tours would provide jobs and the hotel would provide jobs in addition to the wind farm jobs. We would gain taxes from all of these as well. With tourists coming in for tours of the wind farm we might even see some business at existing resteraunts and perhaps some new ones, maybe get a boutique or two, a gift shop. We just might see some life return to Rumford. It will all be up to the voters of Rumford next month, will they vote No because they want business or Vote yes becaus they want more unemployment and higher taxes. My family will be voting for the betterment of Rumford, a resounding NO!

 's picture

Tax relief---get real.

Rumford should have contacted the State of Maine's Municipal Revenue Service for the truth a long time ago. You'll be lucky to get $10.00 per each $100,000 of your valuation off your taxes. Great , huh? A real "Wind Fall". And there has never been a wind project done in this state without a TIF, except for the three turbine project in Freedom.

As far as making the turbines a tourist attraction...good luck with that!

 's picture

I own my own business. Our

I own my own business. Our products are not relevent to wind power, the town or anything else I comment on here, we don't do business with any of them. I do pay property taxes on my home and business, corporate and personal income taxes, and personal property taxes on my business equipment and fixtures along with all the other taxes and fees the town, state and fed can dream up. Noise levels etc are not a factor in our operations. The work my company does is for out of state concerns and individuals since there is no market here which is not surprising since as Forbes points out, business is better in all of the other 49 states than in Maine. I am not quite sure why you would post the FTC disclosure for my benefit unless you are giving me the headsup to warn folks like Karen Pease that they need to be giving the proper disclosure in which case, I thank you.

 's picture

Love my house, love my town

I had the opportunity to leave but stayed because it was home. Never worked for the mill, didn't want to. I love my state and only want the best for it and the people who live in it.
It's unfortunate that our children have to leave in order to find work because of the "Keep Maine Beautiful" mentality when it should be "Keep Maine Solvent". Tourists aren't enough to support this state and most of the people who live here are middle class working stiffs who can't support the exorbitant spending practices of either the state or town governments.
It's not just my town that's in the dumper, the whole state is and everybody knows it. We have to make a decision about whether we want to be a service based state that relies on the whims of tourism to support it, or whether we want to be a state that is business friendly.
As I said in the first post, I could care less about wind power. What I want is a business that will come into this community and stay for longer than 6 months and either employ more than 4 people or make a sizable impact on the property tax rates. That business at present happens to be wind power. If you have another solution waiting in the wings we'd all be happy to hear about it
What really gets me is that nobody raised a fuss when they ran the gas line through town and built a power plant. That thing could leak or explode and wipe out half the town. Mention a wind mill and knocking down some trees and the place boils like an anthill. The difference is that you can't see the pipe line and the power plant is all on one spot.
I happen to think that the wind turbines are beautiful, graceful pieces of architectural engineering that would add to the beauty of the landscape rather than detract from it, but then maybe seeing something modern as beautiful is considered heresy if you're in Maine/ NIMBYLAND.
I'm done now. I have to get ready to go to work. Yeah, you read that right.

 's picture

I was born here too

Right in Rumford.

 's picture

It's nice to know that you can afford

to own a home, a camp, 100 acres to build a retirement home on and have family that will leave you a home on Penobscot Bay. How's all that silver in your mouth taste??
You're one of those people who don't worry about money because you've never lacked for it. You don't worry about how the taxes will be paid. You talk about ghettos, and subways and trash but you've only seen it as you drive by it.
You support causes because it's fashionable, not because the effect you personally. Your the worst kind of hypocrite, spouting of about wind and oil, and coal and probably have stocks in all of them.
Oh, my little house is a 2200 Sq foot brick federal built in 1894. It's listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Far from little.

 's picture

last comment meant for salemgirl1

it didn't post under reply

 's picture

I usually don't respond to things like this

But after reading some of your other posts, it appears that you are one of those "from away" people that think they have a voice in a community where they don't live. If you live here FULL TIME then sure, comment. If you don't, keep your opinions to yourself, we don't need them. If you're one of those people who feels that they have to comment on everything that goes on regardless of whether or not it directly affects them or their community, get a life.
Oh, by the way, you're right. I did choose to live where I do. I bought a home that is NOT currently worth thousands less than what I paid for it or on the verge of foreclosure. I bought a home that I could afford no matter how bad things got. I like my home.
I don't like being surprised with 22% increases in my tax bill because people are blind to the fact that beautiful scenery doesn't pay the bills. Neither God nor Mother Nature pay taxes on that land you're so worried about, and unless it's developed, neither do the tourists that everyone is so concerned with. If the land isn't being used it's useless.
I don't care if it's pretty with foliage and trees. I've looked at those wind turbines and I like the looks of them, they're pretty nice to look at and you get used to the noise ( the little that there is compared to the paper mill). Besides that, they bring in money. The only way trees or mountains make money is if you cut down the trees for the pulp or for lumber or cut them down to put up ski slopes put up ski slopes.
There's a thought!!! Use the roads that are cut to put up the turbines as ski slopes in the winter!!! Kill 2 birds with one stone. Genius.

Phil Blampied's picture


The committee thinks it's sticking it to the wind companies by setting a one mile setback. What's not discussed is that such a setback would render all abutting properties as non-buildable. A property owner who happened to have land within the radius would suddenly find a $20,000 building lot rendered into a $800 woodlot. And no, no such property would be grandfathered unless construction was already in progress or were finished. I guess the underlying scheme is that no wind towers will go up at all since the regulations are so harsh. But an aggressive company might find it worth their while to thread through the regs and put a tower up anyway. And then dozens of property owners will suddenly be much poorer.

 's picture

1 mile setback is pro-humanity

The wind companies want the land and do not care about the health of the people in Maine. Supporting companies like First Wind and Patriot Renewables supports hurting Maine people who have to live close to the wind turbines or have gigantic transmission line in their front yards. Have lunch with someone from Mars Hill, Freedom, or Vinalhaven and listen to what it is really like living next to these 110 dBA noise makers. The DEP is allowing these projects and the legislature has taken away our rights to a public hearing. If you care about your friends and neighbors in Maine, please vote for at least a 1 mile set back on industrial wind parks.

 's picture

Ordinance will cost the town $$$

If you want to spend lots of money on legal fees to defend the most restrictive ordinance in the state, then approve this, But if you would rather see the selectmen come up with a reasonable ordinance for your approval in June, vote this one down.

 's picture


Oh look, somebody disagreed with me, what a surprise :)

 's picture

Over and over again we have

Over and over again we have asked that this committee provide the education it was mandated to do on the advantages and disadvantages of wind development and they have flatly refused. Over and over the members of this committee have been asked about visiting existing wind farms and they have always refused. Over and over by countless voters of Rumford this committee has been asked who where these experts that provided assistance in developing this ordinance and all we get is that it came from the Dixmont ordinance. We believe that to absolutely be the one truthful thing this committee has said and done; this is Dixmont's ordinance made even more prohibitive to development. They were anti-wind when they signed on, they went and got the most anti-wind equivelant to a moratorium ordinance they could find and than made it more impossible by lowering noise limits that the mill and the few other existing industries in the area could never meet , extending setbacks etc with no justification other than to guarantee that there will be no wind development in Rumford.

Without a doubt there needs to be a vision for Rumford; a comprehensive plan that includes science based ordinances that cover noise and other factors that would not be descriminatory but, would apply to all activitivies present and future. Rumford must cease beng reactionary as anyone looking to locate a business will not go where they have to worry about a knee jerk reaction responses. When looking for a location, business wants to go where there is a plan in place, fair and consistant rules that are on the table that can be worked with and lived with or they walk away from not waste time and money on a place that jerks them around like Rumford has a long history of doing and is now doing with wind. It hasn't been a year since we voted 751-364 in favor of wind development and look what a few fanatics have done.

There are fewer and fewer businesses in Rumford because of the excessive spending and the hostile environment established by the community. The Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and voters just keep on spending and changing the rules. Businesses and families like ours are paying higher and higher taxes getting, squeezed more and more year after year. Last year our home, business and personal property taxes soured 22 and a 1/2 percent. We have been told to expect another jump this year. It simply isn't there to give people. Our property is worth less and less, truthfully we couldn't give it away in this town. Our business and our family have been in Rumford a lot of years providing good paying jobs with benefits, this may well be the last which will mean more lost jobs for Rumford people and lost taxes for you spend happy people to make up for. It would be cheaper for us to pack up and move our business with all of the inventory and equipment and go to a business friendly community. We are seriously talking about salvaging what we can, bulldozing our nice buildings, home and business, because nobody is going to buy here and then giving the town the land with the bulldozed buildings. If the town doesn't just take it they will end up with it for taxes because we will not pay anymore; why should we and why would we give the town our nice, well maintained buildings after being screwed for staying, giving people jobs and getting bent over for taxes besides year after year. Just take a ride a round, look at all the abandoned property! Hell, take a walk down Waldo St and on the Island. The industrial park and business park are a joke. The mill looks awful and no wonder, why in the world would they, could they after paying Taxford's outrageous taxes afford to put money into paint, keeping the place cleaned up and looking nice. Come the November election Rumford will be voting on the wind power ordinance. A yes vote will not only be a permanent moratorium on wind it will be a loud and clear message to all businesses that Rumford has a permanent moratorium of business. If the wind power ordinances passes expect to see us move our business out of Rumford, bulldoze our home and business and leave the property to the town to deal with. You will get a new line of folks signing up for general assistance while they wait for their unemployment checks and when their benefits runout. We pay good wages with benefits, it is unfortunate that Rumford people from the Board of Selectmen on down through the voters are clueless and driving out all the jobs.

It is time for Rumford to have a vision, have a plan and stop chasing away every good thing that comes along that could help the town. It is time to be chasing out the out of towners who are hell bent on sticking their noses in our business and telling us how to run our town and that they know better than we what is good for us, like Karen Pease, Dan McKay, Fremont Tibbets and their lying lot. If Rumford does not vote done this insane ordinance in November there wont be anything coming in and what is left will be leaving. Rumford wont be looking at 70% of the people on welfare, it will be looking at laying of own employees with only those left working for the town not on welfare.

 's picture

Get it done

Please let us know when you have the draft of the scientifically high-tech visionary Comprehensive Plan ready for review, and thanks for volunteering the many hours to get it done. Now, that's what I call dedication. :)

 's picture

Kevin, I would be happy to serve.

I would be delighted to donate my time for this project just as I have donated the last 16 months to many projects in Rumford. I would be delighted to donate my time for this project just as I was more than willing to donate three years of my life with a business to run and young children at home to be a Rumford Delegate to NOCC serving not only on the main committee but several subcommittees which took me away from my business and family several times a week. Should the selectmen decide to put together a real committee to do this and not send it to the planning board where it belongs, I would be happy to serve.

 's picture

Sorry Kevin I thought that was for me.

Sorry Kevin, I thought that was for me since it was a reply to my post. When I went back I noticed the candiceanne at the beginning, I apologize for jumping in. Hopefully candiceanne will see this and that you are asking for her help and for her to work on it. Perhaps your position as Town Moderator will carry more weight with the Town Manager and Selectmen as well as the voters in getting this done and candiceanne may be more amenable to working on the project. If the voters turn down the ordinance I would be more than happy to serve on a real committee, not another fraud like the "advisory committee" was but, one to put together a real comprehensive economic development and activities ordinance for Rumford. Timing wise it would work out well as a number of projects I have been working on will be coming to a close in November as well and I will not have to be packing up the business and family to move. I also expect to have more time since not only are 70% of the people of Maine now on welfare but Maine is no 50th or worst place to do business. Again, Kevin, I apologize for jumping in, I have been in a terrible rush all week with looking at potential new locations for our business.

 's picture

My oops

If it was a reply to your post, it was intended as a reply to you. I often get you and candiceanne mixed up because you have very similar opinions and writing styles.

 's picture

People of our generation tend

People of our generation tend to write in complex sentences, have a tendency to avoid contractions and do not use texting abbreviations. I believe that we both have extensive college educations if I remember correctly from her previous posts on the subject. We also grew up in the River Valley. Combined these would have a tendency to cause our writing styles and potential our opinions to be quite similar.

 's picture

Looks like our leaders have done it to us again

I am neither for or against wind power but I am definitely all for anything that brings some kind of business to this place. The local paper mill, for all of its happy talk about business getting better, will be devalued again in a few years and tax rates will rise again
I don't care about the noise, and I don't care about the beautiful mountaintops that would be blasted away to make places for those turbines to sit. I live in town and listen to traffic all day and night as well as the noise from the paper mill. You get used to the noise after awhile. I look out my windows and see the papermill and the smoke and soot covers my vehicles when it rains and eats the paint. I got used to that too.
The folks who are against wind power are simply self serving. They want what they want regardless of whether or not the community as a whole is hurt by their desires.
As I said, I don't care what the business is that comes here as long as something comes that won't be able to pack up and leave 6 months later. The wind people won't be able to do that. Even if those turbines aren't producing power the company still has to pay the taxes on them and that's a good thing for this town.


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