Sumner passes wind ordinance by 2-1 margin

Tom Standard photo

A standing-room-only crowd of 239 voters and visitors were in the Sumner Fire Station on Wednesday night to pass an Industrial Wind Power Ordinance.

SUMNER — Voters passed the Industrial Wind Power Ordinance on Wednesday night by a 2-1 ratio at a standing-room-only special town meeting in the fire barn.

Tom Standard photo

Sumner resident Morgan Lueck registers to vote before a special town meeting Wednesday night that overwhelmingly passed an Industrial Wind Power Ordinance.

Tom Standard photo

Sumner Town Clerk Susan Runes swears in Glen Holmes as moderator Wednesday night. Holmes, the director of Western Maine Economic Development Council, conducted the special town meeting where an overflow crowd in the fire station adopted an Industrial Wind Power Ordinance by the overwhelming vote of 159-79.

The vote was 159-79. One person cast a blank ballot.

Western Maine Economic Development Council Director Glen Holmes moderated the meeting.

Industrial Wind Power Ordinance Committee member Jeff Pfeifer asked Holmes to clarify what a yes and a no vote meant.

Holmes explained that if the ordinance was adopted with a yes vote, it would regulate wind power development in Sumner. If it was defeated by a no vote, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection guidelines would prevail.

The vote was the culmination of nearly 12 months of work by the committee, which has been working during a moratorium on wind power projects.

The town was approached last year with an informal proposal by Clear Sky Energy LLC of Barnstable, Mass., to erect five wind turbines on Spruce Hills, which includes, Mount Tom in the southwest area of town off Decoster Road.

Resident Pamela Cheesman pointed out that the DEP guidelines are relatively weak. They require a setback of only one and one half times the tower height where the ordinance requires 1 mile from the tower to the nearest non-participating landowner's property line.

Voters agreed to let nonresident property owner Chris Dwinal speak. He said the vote was not "for" or "against" wind power but rather was a vote on whether developers were bound by the inadequate DEP guidelines or by an ordinance that protected residents and their property value.

He pointed out that the committee members were the local experts on wind power since they had spent many hours doing research. He indicated that a strong ordinance put the town in a better bargaining position if a developer wished to build a wind facility in Sumner.

In addition to requiring a 1-mile setback, the ordinance has several other features committee members say will protect residents and the town.

It requires the developer to post a performance bond for removing the towers and restoring the site. The DEP does not require such a safeguard and it says towns may be forced to bear the decommissioning cost if the developer abandons the towers.

It requires town officials to investigate all complaints and to require compliance with the ordinance. The town can hire needed experts at the developer's expense. Under DEP guidelines residents must hire their own experts and attorneys to enforce compliance or pursue complaints.

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Comments

Jason Theriault's picture

Well, if they leave, just know it was your decision.

First off, let me say you should get to decide how to run your town.

Now, that said, hopefully this doesn't serve to scare off investment in the state.

 's picture

It was Sumner's decision

Jason, thank you for your respect for communities to make their own decisions.
Regarding investment, let's hope that the nation as a whole will pull out of this prolonged recession and things will pick up in Maine. Wind power investment would not happen without huge taxpayer funds, something of which I am fundamentally opposed. I say get rid of all energy subsidies, tax schemes, and mandates across the board. Stop that spending, much of it wasteful, and let the free markets decide our energy resources. The government has pursued bad public policy in its favoritism to wind, solar, ethanol, etc. Regarding wind, you might wish to read this piece I wrote just yesterday. http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blog/show?id=4401701%3ABlogPost%3A...

Jason Theriault's picture

From what I have read, wind

From what I have read, wind is on par with many other forms of power, cost per kw. Now while I agree that ethanol is a bad investment, I don't agree that wind power is. That said, you're leaving money on the table. You're turning away jobs. But hey, maybe you can just build another casino.

Now, let me ask you this - How do you want to generate power? If wind is such a boondoggle, how would you generate power?

Jason Theriault's picture

From what I have read, wind

From what I have read, wind is on par with many other forms of power, cost per kw. Now while I agree that ethenol is a bad investment, I don't agree that wind power is. That said, you're leaving money on the table. You're turning away jobs. But hey, maybe you can just build another casino.

Now, let me ask you this - How do you want to generate power? If wind is such a boondoggle, how would you generate power?

 's picture

Energy dense sources

I want power to come from efficient, reliable, energy-dense sources. We can do a lot with an innovative, free market. Wind is a loser. Another set of statistics from USEIA: In July 2011, the USEIA published results for 2010 for subsidies per MWH (direct, tax, R & D, and electricity support). The subsidy per MWH is $52.43 for wind; the next highest is $2.78 for nuclear, then 84 cents for hydro, 64 cents for coal, and 63 cents for natural gas. Wind is such a feckless source of electricity, that it requires far greater subsidies than any other source of electricity per Megawatt Hour. Support for wind is bad economics, based on poor science, mandated by bad public policy caused by lobbyists influencing politicians pandering to be “green” rather than making sound decisions based on economics.

Jason Theriault's picture

You dodged the question.

"I want power to come from efficient, reliable, energy-dense sources"

And what is that source? Hmmmm?
Put it this way - I am building a power generator next to your house. What would you like?

BTW - Some more data from the USEIA - The Cost per Megawatt/hour is 97 for wind. It's cheaper than Nuclear, solar, and all the clean burning coal and most of the clean burning NG.

Sumner can chose to not allow a wind farm. Just know that those jobs and money are going somewhere else.

 's picture

sumner property values go up.

just remember, Sumner's property values will go up while host towns value goes down.

 's picture

pro Maine

There. The ordinance is way better than the DEP pro wind regs. I hope it is enough to protect the citizens so they will not have the problems like in Mars Hill, Freedom, or V Haven. Any red blinking lights should be radar activated so they are not blinking away all night wasting energy and distracting people. This should be a state law before there are a thousand red blinkers covering Maine mtn. tops. The wind developers do not care and will get away with everything they can. Their threats to come back at the Downeast region shows the developers do not care about the wishes of Mainers. It is all about them and a quick payoff. More communities need to protect the people.

Jason Theriault's picture

Wait, wha?

Any red blinking lights should be radar activated so they are not blinking away all night wasting energy and distracting people.

Umm, I've never heard of these, and this doesn't sound right. Not all planes have radar, so the turbines would have to be transmitting radar. I can't image that's more cost effective than just having the light on.

 's picture

red lights

If some can afford the aviation hobby, they can afford radar for night flying. There is no reason for the lights to waste energy when hardly any planes are flying. If conditions are foggy the lights are not seen until it is too late. Instrument certification is a plus. What is your line of work, Jason? Roads, bridges and rail are more important for jobs and the economy than scalping the mtns. so a few can cash in on subsidies and grants. Save our state from turbine huggers.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Sumner passes wind ordinance by 2-1 margin

Sumner residents 12.05.17 12:45 pm-ish HST • 
Way to go ! And the wind blows at night providing relaiable p o w e r •
Do take back your mountains with this mounting wind power movement and rail against the coal powered power plants in the mid - west that are turning your ponds and lakes sterile at the higher altitudes ( no fish , dying trees ) and deforesting and denuding the western slopes with all that acidic rain •
Incovenient †ruths , naysayers ? Some truths hurt . The truth says nothing about good and bad . Never let truth be the enemy of good , rural nostaligics . Let's put it this way . You can't stop technology and it waits for nobody , Luddites
/s , a geothermal proponent in Puna, Hawai'i • and his ohana
http://www.punageothermalventure.com/ <- in my back yard
Canadians squall about Vermont wind energy project
By WILSON RING Associated Press The Associated Press
Thursday, May 17, 2012 2:45 PM EDT
. . New green jobs too , Mainers ?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Maine

 's picture

Not Respectful to Sumner Residents

Mr. Dosh, your sarcastic remarks in response to the "overwhelming" vote here is not nice and very disrespectful. These folks labored many months and educated themselves and weighed the values of their community. It would be easy for a community with a relatively small population spread across a rural area, that has little commercial base for taxes, and not a lot of wealth to take an opposite road and desperately grab the money the wind developers always dangle. Sumner showed respect for process, respect for the ridges that so define the topography of the town, and most importantly respect for one another, enacting an ordinance that protects all residents from this type of development. In the end, they decided if wind power development comes to Sumner, it comes on their terms. It is as simple as that. Well done, Sumner!

 's picture

Good for Sumner!

Congratulations to Sumner for taking the time to thoroughly consider the issue of wind power development in your town, going through a painstaking drafting process, and finally voting strongly in favor of protecting the interests of all residents. How sad that there are parts of Sumner near Shagg Pond that are affected by the turbines that went in on Spruce Mt. in Woodstock. Which brings me to my point. The River Valley region is under intense pressure, especially by predatory Patriot Renewables, to place gigantic wind machines on every possible ridge. The same is true for the Oxford Hills and all the foothill ridges in northern Oxford, Franklin, and Somerset counties. Sumner joins a growing number of communities that have taken the time to examine the array of issues regarding wind power development. In every case, the community decides more appropriate standards than the sadly lacking state model ordinance. The other towns need to do the same.

Hart Daley's picture

Protect the Citizens - True Purpose of Wind Ordinance

Sumner residents / nonresidents NAILED IT ON THE HEAD! Great job!

Resident Pamela Cheesman pointed out that the DEP guidelines are relatively weak. They require a setback of only one and one half times the tower height where the ordinance requires 1 mile from the tower to the nearest non-participating landowner's property line.

Voters agreed to let nonresident property owner Chris Dwinal speak. He said the vote was not "for" or "against" wind power but rather was a vote on whether developers were bound by the inadequate DEP guidelines or by an ordinance that protected residents and their property value.

Gary Steinberg's picture

Haud unquam cedo!

Never give in to the scoundrels of Maine's corrupt wind cartel!

Kick them out!

Turbines create serious damage for over 2.5 miles omni-directionally from infra sound alone.
Come to Lincoln and see/hear for yourselves.

The wind liars and DEP are complicit in one of the biggest scams in Maine's history.

Defiance is in order!

Well done Sumner; protect your homes and health .

Good Work!

Taking care of business.

 's picture

Congratulations on a job well

Congratulations on a job well done, Sumner. You've drafted and voted in an ordinance that protects the town's residents rather than favors the developers. All Maine towns should do the same. DEP guidelines regulating industrial wind development are an injurious insult to Maine residents.

 's picture

at least one mile

Good Job everyone.
At least a mile set-back because 3 sound modeling maps of the area, Spruce, Saddleback and Canton show 35-45 dBA at one mile....45dBA being the Gamesa 2.75 MW, 35 dBA = 2MW Gamesa.

You guessed it. The turbines are getting taller and larger and the DEP codes are not addressing this issue.

And thanks for saving the bats and birds too. alice mckay barnett - a wind warrior

 's picture

Sumner passes wind ordinance by 2-1 margin

The voices of the Citizens of Sumner have been heard. Thank you all for supporting Local Control and Protecting Our Town.

Kathy Emery
Proud Sumner Citizen
Chairman of the Sumner Industrial Wind Ordinance Committee

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