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.
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.