DEP wind hearing Thursday

DIXFIELD — Residents from Carthage, Canton and Dixfield will have a chance Thursday, March 10, at 6 p.m. to ask questions and make comments about a planned 12- turbine industrial wind project on the Saddleback Ridge in Carthage.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection will also field questions about proposed electric transmission lines which are planned for the three towns, an electrical substation proposed for Canton, other related infrastructure, and an operation and maintenance building.

The Saddleback Ridge project has been submitted to the department. Two other projects in much earlier stages are proposed: Seven turbine for Canton Mountain in Canton; 13 turbines for the Colonel Holman Mountain ridgeline in Dixfield.

The meeting will be preceded by a free supper at 4 p.m. sponsored by the River Valley Alliance Against Wind. Residents who attend the supper will have a chance to express concerns about wind projects and view films of the area. Both events will be held in the community room of Dirigo High School on Weld Street.

Mark Margerum, DEP project manager, said representatives from other state agencies, such as the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Conservation, will also be available to field questions.

The Quincy, Mass., firm, Patriot Renewables LLC, doing business as Saddleback Ridge Wind LLC, has proposed construction of a $65 million, 32-megawatt project for the Carthage site.

The Department of Environmental Protection asks that members of the public submit questions in writing at the meeting so that each question can be addressed before the licensing decision.

Residents may also submit questions and comments to Margerum at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 17 State House Station, August, Maine 04333.

The application may be seen at the department's website, or at any of the three municipal offices.

Margerum said a decision is expected to be made on the Carthage application sometime in April.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Brad Blake's picture

DEP Farce

There are so many things wrong with this meeting. First, a 2 hour time limit to offer critique, analysis, pose questions, offer evidence, and speak opinions about a complex application? I could speak just by myself for 2 hours on this application. This short period exemplifies the "Expedited Wind Permit" process. Nobody ever provides time to properly vet these applications.
Second, while it is nice of DEP to bring along a few others from other parts of state government to answer questions, it is my experience that there are never good resources available at these meetings, when a huge project with a multitude of impacts should demand many more resources available to the citizens---after all, we do not have the money to hire all the consultants like the wind industry.
Third, the DEP presiding person will make a magnanimous "feel good" statement about the openness of the process, how they will take down all the questions and record pertinent information. There will be a promise that every question will get an answer and what the local folks offer as analysis and insight will be incorporated in the considerations. Unless the process has changed dramatically from previous DEP public comment meetings, such as the one for the Rollins Project in Lincoln Lakes, the responses to questions will be superficial and sketchy at best and there is no indication that pertinent information gathered at the meeting is ever incorporated into DEP decisions.
Fourth, with this public comment meeting being the only time the citizens get a chance to participate (citizens are not granted hearings where sworn testimony and cross examination is allowed) and the applicant is working with the DEP staff at all times, how fair is the process? Just the fact that a public comment meeting is tagged on to the end as a tiny gesture thrown to the citizens, that it occurs on March 10 and the project manager says a decision is expected sometime in April, shows that public input to this process is akin to a drop of water in a desert.

Lisa Lindsay's picture

Residents from *any* town

can make comments or ask questions--not just the three listed by the reporter. Residents of Weld and Wilton will also be impacted by this project, along with anyone who cares about the environment and has an interest in this area.

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