Board makes progress at wind workshop

RUMFORD — Continuing their effort to create a third wind power ordinance, selectmen at Tuesday night's workshop agreed on a shadow flicker standard after considerable discussion.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

 Selectman Jeremy Volkernick, right, listens as Dan McKay of Dixfield explains that wind developers can use computer models to simulate how many hours a year wind turbines generate shadow flicker. The discussion occurred Tuesday night at the Rumford selectmen's workshop to create a third wind ordinance.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

During their discussion Tuesday night on setting a shadow flicker standard for wind developers via a town ordinance, Rumford Selectman Jeff Sterling, left, listens as Chairman Greg Buccina explains why he would like the board to agree on a number of hours a year or minutes per day lower than the first two defeated ordinances sought.

However, because it was a workshop, they couldn't officially approve it. That must be done at a regular board meeting.

The ordinance states that shadow flicker occurs when the blades of a wind turbine pass between the sun and an observer, casting a readily seen, moving shadow on the person and his or her immediate environment.

It asks applicants to conduct a study.

“The application will not be approved if the study estimates that the duration and location of flicker be such that there are more than 12 hours of flicker per year in an occupied structure located on a non-participating parcel,” Chairman Greg Buccina said.

“If after the construction of the (wind energy facility) violates this condition, then the WEF will be in violation of this ordinance.”

He then said the board asked Town Manager Carlo Puiia to draft a statement requesting that there be zero hours of flicker annually. Additionally, Buccina suggested that Puiia possibly use words from Eastport's wind ordinance “to beef it up a little bit and to substantiate why we're doing what we're doing.”

Sterling had previously read a section from Eastport's ordinance about flicker.

Tuesday night's general consensus on Buccina's wording came after a 75-minute discussion.

The first ordinance, which many believed to be too restrictive and was defeated in November, limited shadow flicker to 10 hours a year.

The second ordinance, thought to be too liberal and defeated in June, bumped it up to 24 hours annually.

Selectmen at first tried to compromise, although Buccina initially wanted to go with a number lower than 10 “to eliminate a lot of potential problems.”

Like he did at the first workshop last week, Buccina allowed members of the public to also weigh in, but only if they spoke on topic.

Albert Aniel of Mexico said 10 hours annually equaled two minutes of flicker a day during sunrise and sunset depending on the siting of turbines, whereas 24 hours annually was four minutes a day.

He then asked the board to try to imagine someone experiencing shadow flicker for this long every day the sun was out.

“It would be enough to drive you crazy,” he said.

Rumford resident and businessman Roger Arsenault advised the board to place the burden on wind developers and not town taxpayers and require zero hours of shadow flicker annually.

When asked where he came up with 24 hours, Sterling said he took it from the Maine State Planning Office model wind ordinance template when he drafted the second ordinance.

Sterling said restricting it to zero “doesn't seem practical to me.”

When Buccina asked if 12 was better, Sterling said he was considering 15 hours a year.

“There's no science behind it,” he said, telling the board that it felt like they were picking numbers out of the air and plugging them into a blank in a sentence.

Resident Rita Aromaa said that in her work as a special education educator there are children and adults who are affected by shadow flicker. She suggested going with a lower number.

Puiia then suggested going with so many minutes a day rather than hours per year “because there isn't going to be sunshine for 365 days.”

He suggested no more than two minutes a day at any occupied structure.

No more than 10 hours a year equals 1.7 minutes per day, “but that's saying it will be sunny every day,” he said.

Selectman Jeremy Volkernick liked that idea, and then decided to allow no more than three hours annually.

However, Sterling and Selectman Brad Adley wanted no more than two to three minutes a day, before compromising on 12 hours annually.

“I think Carlo's idea is a good one, but again, we're pulling a number out of the air to fill in a blank,” Sterling said.

“Am I comfortable with it? No. Can I live with it? Probably.”

Selectmen also agreed that wind turbine blades must be coated with non-reflective paint.

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

just reject wind and welcome tourism

Shadow flicker cannot be divided into per day. The months of November, December and January show longer shadows because of the low position of the sun at Winter Solstice.
10 hours of shadow flicker may work out to be 20 minutes on December 20 and diminish each day the sun rises in the sky.
Now imagine the shadow flicker you see on You Tube at your property.

Just reject wind

And get it over with. There are 3 anti winders on this board. The Maine State Planning has a model. Just adopt it. And again and again people who do reside in Rumford should not be allowed to interfere with what we do. This board minus Adley and Sterling are on the right track sometimes. But they give in to aesily to the antiwind board members. Mr. Volkernic and Buccina what will happen to you when the mill files bankruptcy? Sure they will operate for awhile but then what? Keep selling our town down the drain. You have help coming from Lovejoy to do so. Moe,Lary and Curly GREAT TEAM!

Steve Bulger's picture

Frank

in addition to answering the questions in my comment below, why don't you explain how the promoting of wind power will save the economy of the area in the event of a mill bankruptcy and closure? And is wind power a factor that will prevent the mill's closure? Just what ARE the benefits of wind power to the River Valley? You keep avoiding my questions, leading me to suspect that either you don't have answers, or the answers are so contrary to the preferences of Rumford's voters that you are petrified of bringing them into the light of day for all to see.

Steve

If you would have read all my articles that I've written you would that I have answered your questions. This board has the ability to strke the deals needed to benefit the town. And surprise,surprise the mill is filing Chapter 11 .WOW ! The tax revenue that will be lost from the mill. The towers won't fill the whole void but will contribute some. Do you pay taxes in Rumford? If you do can you pay the town out of your own pocket what the town will be losing when the mill shuts down.

Steve Bulger's picture

Once again

the Board is treating wind power as a foregone conclusion. It is not. I would challenge anyone to drive up the South Arm Road to the scenic overlook and view the destruction that has occurred on Record Hill under the premise that the wind towers there will be an economic boom for the residents of Roxbury as well as the entire region. It's shameful that people were swayed by Angus King and his snake-oil salesmen.
To date, there have been no answers to very basic questions I raised in response to an earlier SJ article about the proposed Rumford ordinance: What becomes of all the electricity generated? Does it provide free or greatly reduced power prices for area residents? How many local workers will be hired for the construction? How many local companies will be utilized for equipment and supplies? After construction is completed how many residual jobs will there be and for whom? Do the benefits offset the destruction and decimation of the pristine mountain tops in the Rumford area?
I would encourage Rumford voters to DEMAND those answers before deciding the fate of the beautiful mountains in the area. Once they are decimated, they can never be restored. Don't allow First Wind and its proponents to hoodwink you with grandiose notions of economic windfalls, lower taxes, increased employment and cheaper electricity. Make them prove to you that those benefits will happen. Until then, don't let the Board, who are there to serve you and not to rule you, treat the presence of wind towers in Rumford as a certainty that requires regulation. It is only an option - one that deserves much, much more justification.

Advertisement

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

I'm interested in ...