CARTHAGE — Several dozen Carthage residents and a few others met at the Community Building on Monday night to learn more about a proposed wind farm on the Saddleback Mountain ridge.
The sessions featured several stations with a variety of experts who work for Patriot Renewables LLC prepared to answer questions ranging from the impact on birds and bats to the sound of turbines.
The public informational meeting was required as part of the permitting process for Quincy, Mass., firm with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
“We are trying to give people the answers they are looking for,” said Tom Carroll, project coordinator for both the Carthage and Dixfield turbine proposals.
Todd Presson, chief operating officer for the wind energy company, said his firm plans to submit the application to the MDEP within the next week or two. He estimates the department will likely need at least six months to review the document.
Proposed is construction of 12 industrial wind turbines, of 2.75 megawatts each, on purchased and leased land. The company has an option to buy or lease about 1,900 acres. Of that amount, Presson said about 127 acres would be cleared for turbine construction, connecting roads, and transmission line routes.
Lindsay Galbraith, assistant project manager, said about 1,300 acres of land owned by Edmund and Donna Berry, Jacquelind Vanover, Joe and Wayne Buck, and Betsy Mancine are under contract for purchase.
In addition, the wind company also has lease options for another 600 or so acres owned by Phill McIntyre, Mike and Dave Gill and Clinton Bradbury.
She provided additional information about the project that includes:
* About seven miles of easements from approximately the Winter Hill Road to a possible other wind turbine project on Canton Mountain for transmission lines, many of which would be built underground;
* A possible Canton project that would call for construction of seven to nine turbines on leased property. The Carthage and Dixfield wind projects would share the same substation.
Melvin Smith, a South Carthage resident, said he had lived in Carthage all his life and had looked at the ridge and mountains. “I want to know what's going on. Seeing the towers on the ridges would be upsetting,” he said.
Paula Steele, another South Carthage resident, said she wasn't necessarily opposed to wind farms, but she was concerned about what she might see and hear for the rest of her life.
“I would think the smart thing to do would be to wait for more information,” she said.
Philip Hill said seeing the towers wouldn't bother him. He was at the session to learn where the lines would be built underground.
“If I don't want to see them, I can just turn my head,” he said.
Also in favor of wind development was Donna Berry, one of the landowners with property under option.
“It's about time we had wind power. Europe has been using it for years. It's the future, with water and solar. Everyone wants clean power and not be captives to foreign oil. It would be sad not to let this opportunity go through,” she said.
Whether American Recovery Act monies were being used was a concern of Joann Rogers. She wants to know where the money is coming from and whether taxpayer money is involved.
Mike Palmer and Chrystal Canney were concerned that hydraulic fluid in the turbines could pollute the area. And Mexico resident, Albert Aniel, said 10 more homes will hear noise they hadn't heard before.
Engineers, sound experts, wetlands experts, visual engineers, wildlife experts and others displayed maps of the targeted area with designations for each specific concern.
Presson said he expects the MDEP to hold a public hearing on the proposed project in about two months.
Patriot Renewables had planned to build several additional turbines on an adjacent 320 acres believed for decades to be owned by the town, then lease that land from the town. A determination on whether that land is owned by the town or a descendant of the original owner is still in court.