Rumford Selectmen still working on details of wind ordinance

RUMFORD — Selectmen took a Dixfield businessman up Thursday night on an offer to share his expertise on wind farms in the board’s efforts to develop a wind ordinance.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rumford Selectman Mark Belanger, left, listens as Selectman Greg Buccina speaks against wind developers Thursday night and suggests that the board extend its moratorium on the permiting process another six months until selectmen create an ordinance to then send before voters.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Tom Powell of Dixfield, a self-professed expert on wind turbines who has worked on wind farms out West, explains shadow flicker and how to regulate it at Thursday night's Rumford Selectmen's meeting. Powell later volunteered his services to the board to help craft a wind ordinance, which they accepted.

The board also accepted Tom Powell’s advice to meet with a wind developer to determine what’s palatable in a wind ordinance. Town Manager Carlo Puiia was asked to schedule those meetings.

Powell claimed he had the insight selectmen need because he works in the wind industry and has helped build 100- to 175-tower wind farms across the nation.

Earlier in the meeting, selectmen took another whack at determining a shadow flicker standard.

However, Selectman Jeremy Volkernick quickly motioned to use the shadow flicker standard from the proposed ordinance defeated in November, instead of language in the state planning office template that the board previously accepted using as a base.

It was seconded, and then Puiia read the language.

Among other things, it would limit a wind developer’s turbines to producing no more than 10 hours annually of shadow flicker and outright ban sunlight glinting off turbine blades.

After the board voted to allow Powell to speak, as he isn’t a Rumford resident, Powell said the state planning wind ordinance model doesn’t provide any leverage for towns against wind developers.

“Flicker is a real thing and flicker can be controlled, and you’re concerned that shadow flicker from a tower could be reflected into a driver on Route 2,” he said.

Powell said flicker is easily controlled simply by reprogramming the rotation of turbine towers.

“You can request that no flicker be cast on Route 2, because it would be a safety hazard to all vehicles, and it isn’t but for a brief distance,” he said.

Venturing further into the defeated ordinance, which required a 4,000-foot setback, he said that was too much.

“I think to move that ordinance along and have a chance at having something to present to your townspeople, I would recommend 2,500 feet and verbiage that said ‘without an easement or an abutting landowner signing off on that,’” he said.

“The aggravating factor here is people putting up six, eight, 10 or 12 towers,” Powell said. “Most of us don’t even consider those as wind farms. It’s more of an annoyance on the wind than it is as a power generator.”

He said the board should have learned from the Fox Islands wind project that siting turbine towers 2,500 feet from an abutting landowner “would have been a good idea.”

Powell also recommended they add language requiring a wind developer to conduct a water aquifer study and testing of wells prior to any blasting work.

“Those are the kind of things I’d recommend to deviate from the state ordinance and to inject your shadow flicker standard that shadow flicker can’t go onto major highways, and if it is, then it’s up to (the developer) to rectify the problem and limit that by adjusting the rotation on those turbines,” he said.

“On the 2,500 foot setback, I think it would be irresponsible to allow those towers to be built within 2,500 feet of an occupied dwelling first of all, but I would stretch it out to an abutting landowner who has to agree to a tower being within 2,500 feet from his property line. Otherwise, he’s going to get problems, I guarantee it.”

Powell also said language should be added to affirm to wind developers that existing recreational opportunities like hunting, snowmobiling or skiing at Black Mountain aren’t compromised by placement of wind turbines.

He also suggested they require developers to place adjacent wind farms at least 1,000 feet apart.

“You should put something in there to give the town some avenue or set a limit on the number of towers,” Powell said.

“Last thing, fire is a real concern with wind towers. Turbines generate tremendous heat.”

He suggested they include language dealing with that, which is something the board hadn’t yet considered.

After more discussion, the board split 2-2 on Volkernick’s motion, with Chairman Brad Adley and Selectman Mark Belanger dissenting, and Volkernick and Selectman Greg Buccina voting yes.

The tie vote defeated the motion, prompting Buccina to argue they can't create an ordinance with a splintered board.

Selectman Jeff Sterling, who has consistently voted with Belanger and Adley on wind ordinance issues, was absent. He is still recovering from injuries from a car accident last month.

Selectmen later agreed to meet with Powell and the wind industry.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

Alice Barnett's picture

set backs

learned from the Fox Islands wind project that siting turbine towers 2,500 feet from an abutting landowner “would have been a good idea.” Spruce mountain and Saddleback would not be in the pickle they are in right now with 2500' set back. so Powell I will not argue that 1 mile set back is the recommendation , world wide.

Powell also recommended they add language requiring a wind developer to conduct a water aquifer study and testing of wells prior to any blasting work.
Thank You, save the ground water tables of these mountain tops.
I bet we do not understand the studies.

"affirm to wind developers that existing recreational opportunities like hunting, snowmobiling or skiing at Black Mountain aren’t compromised by placement of wind turbines."
This aint going to happen. Safety set backs will force wind industry to shut down the ridge.
Un less you work for Industry you will never see the view from these ridges again.

Meetings with Powell and selectmen should be recorded. Siassi, make sure they do. please.

Rumford Selectmen don't want an ordinance, looking for TIF

I sat in on one of the selectman meetings and could not believe the waste of time that was spent on delaying an ordinance. When the selectman decide to use the Spruce mountain wind projects spec.s to create their ordinance, it is a clear sign that they are wasting time. If they had done their home work, they would find that the Town of Woodstock did not make adequate provisions in their Site Plan ordinance and the Building Permit ordinance to deal with the safety of the residents. The DEP stepped in and put a sound limit on 6 of the ten turbines at night. This reduces their ability to produce electricity at their ultimate capacity. Night time is the most productive time for wind and for some reason, maybe our tax dollars, PR thinks they can still make money.That's right..... The Town of Woodstock doesn't have a wind turbine ordinance, so if anyone says they do, they are misleading the truth. We are just now addressing the creation of that type of ordinance, but it won't affect the Spruce Mountain Wind Project. That issue will be decided in Supreme court.

Stalling

Is a good word for the Selectboard of Rumford. The problem is the catering process the chairman is showing towards MR. Buccina and Volkernick. They know what's best the the town of Rumford and it's safety. They should be sitting down every night together until done. Of course that might be to much of a commitment for one or two. Years ago this board was controlled by mill workrers and new business was told we don't need you here. We have the paper mill. Well ,look how it has kicked this town in the butt. Now you still have two mill workers on this board that are not taking care of this town ,STILL AGAIN. They have learned nothing from the past because they are stuck in the past. Get your heads out of the sand gents. The people had their say. They want wind. Write the ordinance that benefits the town taxpayers and which benefits the town the most. How hard can that be? For a few darn hard because they are anti-winders.

FLICKER ONTO RTE. 2

Where the windtowers are going to be located, I don't think will send flicker that distance onto Rte. 2. There is more glare from the sun in certainition in the sky. Just another scare tactic of the anti-winders. Mr. Powell wants to help Rumford create an ordinance??? An outspoken anti-winder wants to do what ??? What's your game Mr. Powell???? And for Mr. Volkernick an Mr. Buccina why don't you both take money from your own pockets an place signs on every entrance into Rumford with the statement;"THE TOWN OF RUMFORD IS CLOSED TO NEW BUSINESSES! WE DEPEND SOLELY ON OUR GOING THE THE TUBE PAPER MILL!" THANK YOU!

Flicker onto Rte. 2

Where the towers are going to be located I don't think will send flicker that distance onto Route 2. There is more glare from the sun in a certain position in the sky . Just another scare tactic of the anti winders. Mr. Powell it seems wants to help Rumford create an ordinance? An upfront anti-winderwants to help do what???? What your game Mr. Powell? And for Mr Volkernick and Mr. Buccina why don't you just take money out of your own pockets and place then on every entrance into Rumford with the statement, THE TOWN OF RUMFORD IS CLOSED TO NEW BUSINESSES ! WE DEPEND SOLELY ON OUR GOING DOWN THE TUBE PAPER MILL! THANK YOU!

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...