Wind project manager: Nothing new in Spruce Mountain appeal

WOODSTOCK — An attorney representing Friends of Spruce Mountain filed an appeal last week with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection over a land-use permit granted to Patriot Renewables to develop a wind farm.

The DEP granted a land-use permit on Oct. 5 for the 10-turbine, 20-megawatt wind farm, which included an analysis of environmental impacts caused by both the construction and the noise from the turbines.

Andy Novey, project developer for Patriot Renewables LLC, said most of the complaints were familiar from previous project appeals. “There doesn't seem to be a lot of new information in there,” Novey said.

At issue is the noise limit for wind turbines and potential health effects of that noise.

Novey said a 5 decibel safety buffer makes Patriot Renewables' models more conservative and safer than the Vinalhaven and Mars Hill wind farms that are cited as causing stress and anxiety to residents. Those projects were not built by Patriot Renewables.

According to the DEP, the Mars Hill project was problematic because developers there were granted a variance from the noise limit. No variance was granted for the Spruce Mountain project.

Spruce Mountain's attorney, Rufus Brown, attacks both Patriot Renewables' methodology and the DEP for allowing turbine noise up to 45 decibels to reach nearby homes at night.

The appeal includes e-mails between Dora Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control, and the DEP, obtained through a Freedom of Access request. In quotes excerpted by Brown, Mills expresses support for wind energy while expressing concerns about the effects of wind noise.

“She and the DEP worked together to present a public position dismissive of the health issues,” Brown's appeal says, then quoting a May 2009 e-mail from Mills where she said she is “quite strongly in support of wind turbines.”

These e-mails were released in December 2009 when Brown appealed a similar DEP permit approving the proposed Record Hill project in Roxbury.

The appeal argues that turbines will bring down property values, costing the town of Woodstock more in tax revenue than the $20,000 a year the wind developers will pay to the town.

Denise Hall of Woodstock, vice president of Friends of Spruce Mountain, said she is happy with Brown's appeal. She said the $20,000 a year is a small price to pay for the losses to property value and residents' health.

Novey said Patriot Renewables hopes to break ground on the Spruce Mountain project in the spring.

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Comments

 's picture

Novey spin

These guys from the wind industry spin better than the turbine blades. Of course he is going to diss the appeal. You can never believe anything these thieves have to say. This is a bad project. The fact that they shut down turbines to meet the night time noise regs that are already too lenient is a clear indictment of the project. This project is also in violation of the guidelines on scenic places, being too close to Little Concord Pond, Bald Mt., Speckled Mt.
Besides that, people in Woodstock need to go to windtaskforce.org and view the photos of the destruction of Rollins Mt. that is taking place right now for the First Wind project. Get a good look at the blasting and scalping of the mountain that will take place. It is a travesty. It results in far more environmental damage to create a ridgetop industrial wind site than any good the fickle trickle of electricity generated from the wind will do to help the planet.

 's picture

Novey said a 5 decibel safety buffer

town was pressured in allowing a 45 decibel limit.
This is not a safety buffer. Noise will exceed 40 decibels. 5 or 6 turbines will be shut down at night for noise cautions. Many will hear them, feel them, more will see them.

quiet rural nightime is 20 dBa
quiet rural area is 40dBa
normal conversation is 45 tp 60 dBa
all from the State Planning Office Tech Bul #4 May 2000
The WHO stated that the recommended noise level outside the dwelling should be no greater than 40dBa so that the inside will be at 30dBa

 's picture

The value of " Quality of Place "

Woodstock, Bethel, Newry, Greenwood and Hanover have become a very attractive area to people seeking habitat close to Maine's four season recreational opportunities and the solitude provided with a relatively, remote area. I know this because I work with an area home-builder and despite the lousy economy, sales are brisk.
The idea of placing wind turbines within the view shed of homes and diminishing the recreational enticement factor associated with these views is counter-productive.
The towns of Bethel, Newry and Greenwood are looking at the matter of industrial wind turbines. I'm certain a study on the impacts to view-sheds will be addressed.
The DEP " tangible benefit " section of the application will not address this issue. They are handicapped by state law. I can only hope this area of Maine isn't risking it's growth potential for a few quick bucks and even fewer jobs.

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