Lots of questions raised at Canton wind farm hearing

CANTON — About 60 people from five towns attended Thursday night's hearing by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on an application for developing a wind farm on Canton Mountain.

Mary Standard photo

Andy Novey, project developer for Patriot Renewables LLC, responds to questions Thursday night at the Canton Mountain wind farm hearing in Canton.

A number of them posed questions about the impact of the $44 million project on the environment, wildlife and who was going to buy the energy generated by the turbines.

Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., proposes to build eight turbines to produce 22 megawatts of electricity. The plan, long-term, calls for linking the project to a substation off Ludden Lane that is being built for the 12-turbine Saddleback Ridge Wind Project in Carthage.

Residents of Canton were outnumbered by those from Carthage, Dixfield, Peru and Wilton at the hearing in the Municipal Building. Mark Bergeron, acting director of the Bureau of Land and Water Quality for the DEP, led the meeting.

Larry Whittington of East Dixfield said he opposed the development because of health concerns, and weather patterns, scenic impact and bird migration.

“What is the distance from the farm to the Androscoggin River, which is a bird migratory path, especially for eagles,” he asked.

Bergeron said it is three miles.

Whittington said that concerns him. He also asked if Patriot Renewables is affiliated with gas or oil companies.

Andy Novey, project developer for Patriot Renewables, said, "No."

Whittington said the turbines would definitely have an impact on his view.

“My scenic view of the mountains will be gone, as well as my owl sounds at night," he said.

Alex Pakulski said his mother and brother lived on Canton Mountain. He is a Maine Guide and spoke about the 200- to 250-year-old oak trees, the plants and the hunting there. He asked how many people had hunted deer on Canton Mountain and several hands shot into the air.

Cliff McKay of Dixfield wanted to know if the lower decibel limit for turbine noise recently approved by the state would apply to the Canton Mountain application.

It will not, he was told, because it was not in effect when the application was filed.

He asked why it was lowered from 45 to 42 decibels and didn't receive an answer.

Jim Palmer, who introduced himself as a scenic expert for the DEP,  explained how the state selected several areas for scenic impact to be considered in applications. These included public areas where people would go to visit.

Rhonda Irish of Jay asked how many homes were in the project area and was told 50.

Kevin Benedict of Peru asked what recourse people have if noise was a problem, and if officials considered limiting the number of wind farms in an area.

Bergeron said there were no laws limiting the number.  He said people could file complaints with the DEP.

Alice Barnett of Carthage said she is concerned about birds being killed by turbine blades.

Others wanted to know who was buying the energy generated, but there was no clear answer to the question.

Bergeron ended the hearing by saying there would be another hearing in the summer.

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Comments

Mike DiCenso's picture

BS

I doubt anyone will read this now, but I noticed Patriot Renewables claim 22 hikers were surveyed and claim no adverse scenic impacts. That claim is laughable and unsubstantiated, and the chance those surveyed were construction workers whose bosses were listening is very real. Judge Judy would call that "hearsay". I call it BS.

Alice Barnett's picture

photo simulation

the photo simulation shown to these hikers is no way a reality shot. In fact, Mike, you make me think. Were the photo simulation of the smaller, orignal turbines? mmmmmm

Dan McKay's picture

Canton, I don't believe, has

Canton, I don't believe, has any type of site or noise ordinance that would address wind turbine projects. This DEP public meeting was the town's first exposure to any type of rules and regulations expressively written for wind development. The DEP rules, as depicted in this article, are very questionable, leaving the town not sufficiency protected against loss of property values and concerns due to noise. This meeting should be a " Red Flag " alert to the town to consider a moratorium. The DEP rules are not that difficult to understand. The town has now heard, for the first time, some of their rules. Hopefully, the town will follow suit with almost all the other area surrounding towns and consider whether the DEP rules are adequate for their comfort. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Alice Barnett's picture

I attended a DEP public

I attended a DEP public meeting 3/22 in Canton about Canton Mountain Wind Project.
The purpose of the meeting was to ask questions of the permit process. But, it seems there were no answers.
Questions on Bald Eagles were defferred to DIFW.
Questions on Noise Complaint Protocol could not be answered.
The crowd heard interpetation of Maine Laws by the lawyer representing Patriot Renewables, the developer.
Basically, the Wind Energy Statutes are loosely interpeted and many definitions need to evolve. Such as the adverse scenic impact to Mt. Blue State Park. This park welcomes over 70,000 visitors a year, yet Patriot Renewables' survey of 22 hikers is the only basis of determining "no adverse scenic impact".
It is hard to get answers.

Mike DiCenso's picture

wind follies

People of Canton, please say NO to the wind sharks. These turbines are a distraction and detract from enjoying outdoor activities. They cannot be ignored and you will never get used to them. Let the developers play megabucks if they want to make some fast money. Maine needs protection from those who would sacrifice the high quality mtns., ridgelines and lakes for the false promises of wind power. Let them build in their own backyards.(They never do!)
Bob W.... remember the uproar when Bigelow was proposed for a ski area? Maine has enough and a couple are too big in my opinion. The difference is that ALL mtns. and ridges are targeted by the wind developers for their unique drilling and blasting makeovers, then decorated with red blinking lights. The lame excuse that there are logging roads already there is a stretch. There is a big difference between a goat path or skidder trail and the developers' super wide dirt highways constructed to move the huge towers and blades across the ridges, not to mention the spraying to prevent tree regrowth. Maine needs more trees and fewer rapacious developers. Tell them NO.

Monique Aniel's picture

I have posted the comments

I have posted the comments Steve Thurston and I wrote to the DEP concerning the Saddleback project in Carthage proposed also by Patriot Renewables last October . Even though some specifics ( regarding scenic consideration )are different, a lot of the issues raised for Canton are similar . Please check www.windtaskforce.org for more information on wind power and email me at sherwats2wildblue.net for more information.
Monique Aniel (, following are the comments to the DEP case manager) :

Dear Mr. Margerum,

We oppose the issuance of a permit for the Saddleback Wind project and submit the following comments in response to the draft permit issued for the Saddleback Wind Project :

Criteria 5.Noise

In the draft permit the Department relies on testimony by former MCDC director Dora Mills in the BEP citizens’ rulemaking process, wherein she states, “"there is no credible scientific evidence at this time supporting directly caused health problems, diseases or syndromes resulting from wind turbines that are in compliance with Maine’s regulations and current modeling strategies."

What the draft permit fails to mention is that, in response to the preponderance of testimony submitted during the process, the BEP has approved new noise regulations for wind turbines, requiring nighttime operation to not exceed 42 decibels. The BEP recognized the potential for more citizens to be negatively impacted by turbines if the existing noise regulations were not amended to provide more protection for people living near turbines. The Department should recognize the actions of the BEP, which has oversight over the Department, and include the BEP’s decision in the findings of fact in its decision on Saddleback. We thus contest unequivocally the acceptance by DEP of Doctor Mills 's opinion on the absence of health effects of wind turbines at current DEP noise regulations

In the draft permit the Department recognizes the “rapidly evolving” post construction avian monitoring protocols, and conditions the permit on future changes to the requirements for such monitoring, and adaptive measures if necessary to limit avian and bat mortality risk. In the same spirit, the Department must recognize the “rapidly evolving” science of wind turbine noise impacts. The permit, if issued, should contain a condition that if the project leads to community complaints the Department may require changes to the allowable noise limits for this project in compliance with any new noise rules in effect.

Noise Reduced Operation (NRO) has not been proven to achieve claimed reductions in noise levels on Vinalhaven and is an unenforceable condition since the Department has no way of confirming the operational status of wind projects in real time. Since the applicant rejects reduced cut-in speeds to minimize bat mortality for economic reasons, (see #7 below) it follows that permit conditions which reduce electrical production to minimize noise impacts would also be undesirable and ripe for abuse. The Department should not allow NRO as a means of compliance.

.

Criteria 6. Scenic Character

The scenic impact of wind turbines conflicts with every effort the state has made in the past 50 years to preserve and protect Maine’s scenic mountain assets. As recently as 2002 conservationists worked hard for public and private funding to permanently conserve nearly 12,000 acres near Saddleback. This land and the adjacent Mount Blue State Park are considered a scenic resource of state or national significance by the Wind Law. While the Wind Law says that the presence of turbines from a scenic resource of state or national significance alone is not necessarily an unreasonable impact, the relative importance of the scenic resource must be taken into account. The draft decision does not appear to recognize this concept.

For instance, while Halfmoon Pond is a protected scenic resource of state or national significance, the visual impact of turbines on Saddleback from Halfmoon Pond is less severe, because views of Saddleback are screened by dense foliage and Saddleback is not a dominant feature on the landscape.

On the contrary, viewers on Mount Blue and other peaks in the protected Blue State Park will be drawn to the stark image of large kinetic machines in an otherwise natural, seemingly wild and undeveloped landscape. To quantify the view as a narrow portion of the viewshed is ludicrous. Wind turbines are like a hairy mole on an otherwise attractive face. Your vision is drawn to and it is them impossible to ignore them. Considering the cumulative impact of Record Hill and Saddleback, and knowing that other wind projects are in various stages of development in the River Valley area, it will be impossible to look out from Mount Blue or Tumbledown and not see turbines prominently featured in the view.

Turbines do not belong in the viewshed of protected, highly popular destination peaks such as Mount Blue and other peaks within the Mount Blue State Park. To say the impact is low to moderate is arbitrary and capricious. The turbines currently under construction in Roxbury, about 5 miles from Tumbledown, are a prominent feature on the landscape when viewed from the summit, regardless of the number of degrees of horizontal area they occupy. Turbines on Saddleback will add to the cumulative effect of Maine’s western mountains becoming increasingly cluttered with wind turbines.

With regard to the draft permit’s mention of opinion polls taken by the applicant, the attitude of hikers or others whose opinions about the visual impact of turbines are polled is irrelevant. There must be a presumption that wind turbines are somehow good for the environment for people to accept their intrusion on the landscape and pronounce them acceptable. There is no scientific evidence that wind turbines in Maine’s mountains will have result in significant emissions reductions. The Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power recognized this fact:

• Confusion over the benefits of wind power development. Wind power displaces

electricity generated from fossil fuels and reduces emissions of atmospheric greenhouse

gases and a variety of other pollutants (SOx, NOx, mercury, etc.). However, because backup

plants, many of which burn fossil fuels, are needed for when wind velocities are low,

there has been some confusion among both the public and decision-makers over whether and

the degree to which these benefits really exist. This confusion needs to be clarified

dispositively so that the regulatory process can focus on real environmental issues.

The topic of whether or not wind power projects actually result in reductions of atmospheric

pollutants has somewhat surprisingly turned out to be a major issue in the public dialogue at

recent hearings.

The Task Force did not attempt to provide a scientific answer to the questions raised about wind power’s effectiveness, but rather passed the issue to the legislature to decide “dispositively”. Since the resulting Expedited Wind Law, LD 2283, was a governor’s emergency bill, the governor had the bill drafted to make emissions benefits a presumption, without the necessary scientific rigor that such a presumption requires. The bill was passed “under the hammer” by the legislative body without any debate and most legislators never read the bill or understood the ramifications of their lack of scrutiny.

Propaganda by the wind industry has influenced the misperception of the public that wind turbines are beneficial. For example, such inaccurate statements as “wind power will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil”, by high profile people such as Angus King, have created a distorted view of wind power in the public eye.

For these reasons, the views of hikers polled by the applicant as evidence of the acceptability of the visual impact of the turbines, hikers whose opinions may be based on the false propaganda of self serving wind industry promoters, should carry no weight.

No reasonable person can argue that a mountain in its natural state is not preferable to a mountain whose ridge is lined with the largest industrial machines currently in production on this planet. Placed in the historic context of Maine’s long and effective conservation movement and state policies protecting the high elevations, the proliferation of turbines near protected places flies in the face of the type of stewardship of the landscape that Mainers have supported repeatedly over the decades.

In 2002 then Governor Angus King announced the permanent conservation of 11,600 acres around Tumbledown Mt:

“Today, nearly 12,000 acres of forestland, including popular hiking trails up Tumbledown Mountain and a pristine alpine pond at its summit, have been protected forever,” said Governor Angus S. King, Jr. “Maine's congressional delegation played a critical role by securing federal funding for this purchase. In addition, I would like to highlight the critical funding provided by the Land for Maine's Future Program, the leadership of the Department of Conservation in spearheading this effort, and the partnership of many private organizations and supporters. Maine citizens will benefit for generations from the legacy we are leaving today.”

Joining King was Senator Olympia Snowe:

“From its inception, the protection of Tumbledown has been guided by a shared vision for conserving and managing Maine's scenic and unique forestland, which is why I fought so hard to secure the federal funding that, in part, makes this announcement possible,” said U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), who with Senator Collins spearheaded efforts to secure $2.1 million in federal funding for the Tumbledown project.

Permitting this project in such close proximity to Mount Blue State Park, and the peaks within the park, is a crime against Maine’s landscape, against all of the efforts over the years to protect it, and against present and future generations of residents and visitors who will be denied the opportunity to enjoy it in its natural state.

Criteria 7. Wildlife and Fisheries

Bats

MDIFW recommended a 5 m/s cut-in speed during migration periods to minimize risk to bat species. The applicant responded that such a recommendation if implemented would have an adverse economic impact on their project. There is no mention in the draft permit of the recommendations made by USFWS, (see the attached letter dated May 11, 2011 which was cc’d to Mark Margerum) which USFWS requested be made part of the permit conditions. (This letter is not included in the DEP online database for the Saddleback project, but since it was cc'd to Mark Margerum there should be a hard copy in the record.) The recommendations contained in the USFWS letter include the need for more radar studies due to the unexpectedly high numbers of birds detected in earlier radar studies, and concurrence with MDIFW that cut- in speed for the turbines should be increased during periods of high risk to bats.

Why have the recommendations of MDIFW and USFWS been ignored by the Department? These are the 3rd party experts the Department should rely on in crafting a permit, not ignored because the applicant complains about the cost. Bat numbers are in a precipitous decline because of white nose syndrome. It is irresponsible to create unnecessary risk to remaining bat populations when research based measures recommended by state and federal agencies are available.

Golden Eagles

The draft permit is silent about golden eagles despite the lengthy discussion of golden eagles in the letter from USFWS. Information in the letter from USFWS is in direct conflict with the claim that raptor migration, particularly golden eagles which are an endangered species, is greater closer to the coast. According the letter from USFWS, recent telemetry data from radio tagged golden eagles “clearly shows that the mountains of western Maine are the primary migration corridor for the Gaspe population of golden eagles”.

Further, in the letter from USFWS the date ranges of spring and fall golden eagle migration through Maine are given. Spring migration occurs from March 10-25, yet the applicant did not begin raptor surveys until April. Fall migration occurs over a 5 week period from October 15 to November 20 and yet the applicant only conducted surveys on two days during the first week of this period, on October 16 and 23 for a total of 10.67 hours of observation. How can the Department ignore in its findings of fact the information submitted by USFWS? How can MIFWS not comment on the inadequacy of the golden eagle surveys? In view of the absence of golden eagle surveys during the time period when golden eagles are known to be migrating the applicant should be required to perform fall and spring surveys during the appropriate time periods prior to construction.

Respectfully submitted,

Monique Aniel, MD and Steve Thurston, co-chairs

Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power

PO Box345 Oquossoc, ME 04964

Alan Woods's picture

Check your facts!

The article says "Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., proposes to build eight turbines to produce 22 megawatts of electricity. "

Eight turbines
times 2.75MW rating apieces
yields 22MW of NAMEPLATE capacity NOT the amount of electricity produced!

Actual production will likely be about 20% of that, or 4.4MW
which equates to 38.54 Megawatt hours
which is enough to power 3,491average U.S. households
or 6,041 average Maine households
or a town with a population of 3000 (half a town's usage is non-residential).

see: http://www.ppdlw.org/calculator.htm

Alice Barnett's picture

Rotor Sweep Zone

Blades moving 185 miles per hour in the RSZ.

Approximately 60% of both nights and days had mean target heights within the
RSZ heights,
and more than 80% of median target heights occurred within the
RSZ heights during the fall 2010 sampling period. (page 7-20 CMWP)

Of the five bald eagles observed, four (three adults, one
juvenile) flew through the Project Area. One of the adults flew within RSZ elevations. (page 7-22 CMWP)

http://www.maine.gov/dep/ftp/WindPowerProjectFiles/CantonMountainWind/se...

Alice Barnett's picture

what are you disagreeing to?

I gave you the site, look it up. Studies for Canton Mountain Wind.
I guess it is true if it is in the application.

Bob Woodbury's picture

Please explain...

RSZ. Thank you.

Alice Barnett's picture

RSZ

Rotor Sweep Zone. The circle the 185 foot blades make. 185 + 185 = 370 foot crcle of bird killing blades reaching 200 miles per hour at tip. Slicing and dicing.

Steve Bulger's picture

Just say, "NO"

Maine already produces more electric power than it consumes. So why are the western mountains being decimated by erecting all of these god-awful-ugly wind towers that will produce electricity for southern New England, New York and New Jersey??? If those areas are so desperate for additional power, build the monstrosities in the Berkshires or upstate New York. Don't allow those modern-day carpetbaggers to take advantage of you any longer. Just say NO!!

Bob Woodbury's picture

Aren't entire mountain sides...

...decimated for ski areas. Mostly in the western mountains. Are not these areas clear cuts. Don't they have ugly towers all the way up the side of the mountain. Where is the outrage over ski areas.

Alice Barnett's picture

ridge line

horizon line is an uninterupted line your eye travels along the ridges.

Western Maine's ridge lines are glaciated and very fragile. Ice age eco-systems exist because Skidders could not climb the ledges. Fresh water and vernal pools exist near the tops. While ski areas may destroy these, a ski area is an economic engine providing hundreds of jobs.

An Industrial Wind Facility provides 1 .

Hart Daley's picture

Baffled -Disheartened

I was surprised to hear that there is no task force in DEP that monitors CO2 emissions in the air and whether or not industrial wind power has any impact in Maine or globally on the reduction of CO2. Studies have shown that all the IWP's in the world have created practically 0% impact in the REDUCTION of CO2 in the air! Yet they declare they are the "green energy" of the future.

I was also shocked to hear that the legislature voted to reduce sound limits from 45 decibels to 42 decibels. Clearly this is in response to health implications and/or noise inconvenience complaints, HOWEVER any existing IWP's or one in the application process DO NOT have to conform to these new lower and safer standards. So basically they are allowing harm and inconvenience to continue for people already suffering from IWP effects.

Lastly, in regards to scenic impact. Thank our legislators for this one. The scenic impact rules only apply to public access land. They say they can't just walk onto our "private" property so our right to scenic views from our "private" property are not considered in the equation. Basically they do not care that the view from your home will be destroyed and that your property will be drastically devalued!

What a disappointment to hear the State of Maine considers it's private citizens "collateral damage"!

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