Crowd turns out for wind development hearing

DIXFIELD — Bob Sloan said hundreds of campers come to the Blueberry Mountain Bible Camp every year to get away from the busyness of everyday living.

Eileen M. Adams/Sun Journal

At Thursday night's hearing in Dixfield, Wind developer Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., displayed simulated views of the 12 turbines planned on the Saddleback Mountain ridge. Views were shown from Webb Lake, Wilson Lake, Route 2 west of East Dixfield, and several other locations.

Eileen M. Adams/Sun Journal

Carthage resident Frank Hutchinson urged the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to be a "profile in courage" when deciding whether to grant a permit for the wind-turbine development along the Saddleback Mountain ridge. His comments were made at a public hearing on the 12-turbine project Thursday night in Dixfield.

Constructing wind turbines could take that experience away, he said at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection hearing Thursday night at Dirigo High School.

“We have an unspoiled view. We hike to get away from everybody,” Sloan said.

Others, such as Larry Hinds, said if the Saddleback Ridge wind turbine project is built, he will leave the state.

“I will sell my land and leave the state. Ecosystems will never come back again,” he said.

But it wasn't only opponents of the Carthage project who testified.

Some of the almost 150 people from many area towns said wind development would be a good thing for the state.

One was Alison Hagerstrom, executive director of the Greater Franklin Development Corp.

“Patriot Renewables has been a pleasure to work with," Hagerstrom said. "They are good corporate citizens. There would be 50-70 jobs during construction and two or three permanent jobs after.”

Also, the construction of a $58 million to $65 million project would have positive spinoff effects for peripheral businesses, she added.

The majority, however, were concerned with the perceived loss of natural beauty and silence.

Scott Lindsay, a Wilton resident, said he has tried to be objective about the Saddleback Ridge wind project, but he was concerned about the possible loss of Maine branding.

“I'm not convinced the end justifies the means. That's (3,000 megawatts by 2025) a significant amount of turbines. It would affect the Maine brand. People come here because it's fishing and hiking in Maine. Maine has a unique landscape and is not industrialized,” he said.

And Brad Blake, an active opponent of the Rollins Ridge wind project in Lincoln, said the state statute calling for developing 3,000 megawatts of wind power, is a heinous statute.

Prior to the public hearing, the River Valley Alliance Against Wind served a supper for about 50 people and held a session on the downside of wind development.

A couple of men who work in heavy construction said wind development was providing a way for them and others to stay in the state.

Brad Strout works for a company that builds high voltage power lines.

"Employees are very excited about this. This is an opportunity for this state so our children won't have to move for jobs,” he said.

The 12-turbine Saddleback Ridge project would be visible from many sections of Carthage, Wilton, Weld and other nearby towns.

The panel of DEP representatives will take both oral and written comments from the meeting Thursday, as well as comments and opinions from experts, and use them as part of the agency's decision process.

DEP project manager Mark Margerum said earlier that a decision on whether to grant the permit could be made in April.

Patriot Renewables is a Quincy, Mass., company that is also working on several other wind projects that are in various stages of development in Woodstock, Dixfield and Canton.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

DEP ignores facts

several home owners in Saddleback basin asks if their spring fed wells will be affected.
The expert says most likely not. Asked if wind company did a base line study of these wells?
Well, no, they did not test these home owners wells. As they did not take sound studies at the ruralist of ruralist places. Hidden valley. They ignore my potential as a developer and decide my 60 acres are in unprotected zone. Even though I have a seasonal structure on this property and stay there overnights, all four seasons.
DEP has a way out of this project. They can interpret my seasonal structure as what it is. I will have a lawyer look at the facts and heed his advise.
STOP this DEP; find loop holes for us citizens as you do for wind industry.

Other agencies; Appalachian club, BPL, Rick James; tells of areas not addressed by wind law criterias. Blinking red lights, Saddleback ridge noise studies without 3dcb buffer, cummulative effects of out building of turbines.

One resident of Saddleback basin askes if any one on the panel read the whole application. No, not a one of them said yes. I thought so. It is huge folks, full of maps, photos, etc. I wonder if Andy Novey has read and understands the whole thing. I think not.

 's picture

Photo simulations

I find it an interesting choice to publish the photo simulations produced by Patriot Renewables. The LSJ photographer also took a couple of pictures of posters I made up of real photos of the Rollins Project currently under construction in Lincoln. Here's the difference. First Wind did the same ploy with photo simulations. Now that the turbines are going up in Lincoln and they are visible from so many viewpoints, the reaction of many in town is "they are a lot bigger than I thought they would be" and "they are bigger than what First Wind's photos showed". So, there you have it. Mitigating the potential impact with the trickery of photo simulations is right out of the Chapter on Deceiving the Public" in the wind industry's playbook.

Regarding my photos of Rollins, they were taken from usual vista points around town and from the front yards of people who live year round on Mattanawcook Lake. I spoke with dozens of people at the meeting last night who were keenly interested in seeing the photos. They were shocked that people were going to see 389 foot tall turbines punctuating the pretty view. They were all appalled at the photos of the environmental devastation from blasting away the ridges and leveling hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of ridgeline and the scalping of acres of forest to install turbines. The media in Maine like the LSJ would do a great service to Maine people if they were to truly document the negative impact of constructing a sprawling industrial site on top of our mountains.

 's picture

zoning

Frank, Lincoln has zoning and the turbines went in anyway. The RR2 zone prohibits anything taller than 40 ft. The courts sided with the wind industry and would not let our appeal be heard. Maine is dealing with a sneaky backroom dealing industry and thankfully people are starting to take notice. They are coming soon to a town near you. Bill , many did complain when the cell towers were going up and some towns have written ordinances. Penobscot just wrote one in fact the towers can be 190 ft.(so no lights blinking) and must be painted in a nonreflective color. You can put the ordinances in and hope they will stick. It is time the DEP started doing their job and denies this project. Save our state from high priced energy sources like wind power.

 's picture

Mr. Whitman

Mr. Whitman, were you at the meeting in Dixfield? I'm sure you were not, so please don't characterize the speakers who addressed a plethora of issues and raised numerous pertinent questions to DEP staff as "whiners". That is akin to me saying you have been "greenwashed" by reading what you wrote. I will say that you are mean spirited for the sarcasm you write at the end. There are numerous incidences being documented of serious harm to people from wind turbines, with the effects low frequency infrasound.

I don't know, you may be a learned chap. Your comments seem to indicate that rather than doing in depth research similar to those who spoke in Dixfield last night, you chose to pick up and perpetuate the "spin" of the wind industry. That is the easy way out. I will point out just one of your many inaccuracies. There is simply no connection between foreign oil and producing electricity with wind turbines. Less than 2% of the electricity in the US is produced from burning oil (USEIA).

Barry King's picture

I'm no longer straddling the fence on this one.

My decision regarding "Turbine Farms" is a personal one. I have read voluminous amounts of information about the subject; health concerns, effects on wildlife, noise pollution, etc., etc., etc. and to me it all boils down to one thing...aesthetics.

Maine is renowned for it's natural beauty and it's pristine wilderness areas. The clear cutting of miles of magnificent forests would have a severe negative effect on the image that Maine has developed as a pure, natural, undeveloped Vacationland.

Turbine Farms are unsightly, to say the least, and I will come back to vote NO on ANY proposition that supports them "in my neck of the woods". I would hope that ALL Native Mainers VOTE NO! when this issue comes up for consideration in YOUR HOMETOWN.

As I stated in the first paragraph, my PERSONAL decision is base solely on the aesthetic aspects of this subject so I am deliberately refraining from making comments involving any other aspects of this issue, but I AM prepared to debate any and all arguments made by proponents of "Turbine Farming" on land, in Maine.

Sign me, on this subject,
"The Tree Hugger"

 's picture

moratorium

any town, at any time, can put a moratorium in place. words of DEP

Mr Hinds

Don't let the door hit you in the behind on the way out. Your negative attitude towards the development of resourses that would reduce our dependency on foreign fuel is shocking.

 's picture

Nice

87 year old man with a love for his home in Maine gets up to testify and you say something foolish like that. If you please, sir, do tell us about how after thousands upon thousands of wind turbines already running in the US, we have reduced our dependency on foreign oil? If you have the figures, I know we'd all love to see them.

lisan180

if towns write their ordinances correctly and force wind turbine developers for local cost reductions before allowing construction and receive lower electrical costs then maybe people will convert over from use of oil. If not written with those terms then write ordinances that wouldn't allow development.

 's picture

whiners

all these folks who think turbines ruin the landscape didn't say boo when verizon et al ruined the landscape with all those GD cell phone towers and there are a heck of a lot more of those all over the state already. how many gallons of middle east oil did those displace. hmmm - thats right - none. do you think all those tankers filled with saudi oil are more scenic. every time i see a wind turbine on a ridge, i'm glad we were finally smart enough to do what we should have done 20 years ago if anyone in this country were interested in conservation. they may not be great to look at but all those greenhouse gasses that burning oil and gas contribute to the environment aren't too pretty either and its only going to get worse. in the midwest, turbines are everywhere. farmers having a hard time making it farming (thanx to ADM and Monsanto) are smart enough to lease space to wind turbines which means they can keep on using the land just as we can here in Maine. All these whiners that think they'll drop dead if they walk under one of these towers better do it and "decrease the surplus population" as Scrooge would have said.

Alan Woods's picture

What's harder to find: jobs or wilderness?

Mr. Strout says:
"This is an opportunity for this state so our children won't have to move for jobs."

Although I question his premise, for the sake of argument let's assume his children can't find jobs in Maine. At least his children CAN move for jobs. There are plenty of places that have jobs.

But if these industrial wind complexes are built, where do the thousands upon thousands of local residents and visitors go for a wilderness experience? And if when leave, when they stop coming, what do you think that'll do to the local economy and your precious "3 jobs"?

Contrary to what the industrial wind developers would have us think, Maine does not have an energy crisis or a greenhouse gas problem. We don't have to shoot from the hip. We can afford to think about and plan for what's best for Maine in the long term. In the long run, Maine is best off maintaining its unique wilderness brand.

 's picture

Too tired to comment

It was such a late night, with so many fine citizens pleading for the DEP to save rural Maine mountain ridgelines that I am too tired to comment in any detail. Public opinion is shifting. Countless towns from western Maine to eastern Maine are enacting ordinances to protect their citizens and their beloved landscape. The clock is ticking. What will become of Saddleback Ridge and the people who call Carthage, Wilton, Weld, etc. home or home away from home?

Alan Woods's picture

Sorry about the typo...

But if these industrial wind complexes are built, where do the thousands upon thousands of local residents and visitors go for a wilderness experience? And when they leave, when they stop coming, what do you think that'll do to the local economy and your precious "3 jobs"?

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