Opinions divided on Dixfield wind project

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DIXFIELD — About three dozen residents attended Patriot Renewables LLC’s first public informational meeting on its planned wind turbine project Thursday night. Most were looking for more information from one or more of the several experts who had charts and maps on display.

“I’m still up in the air,” said Bitsy Ionta, who attended the session to learn more about the financial aspects of the project.

Bob Withrow wanted to learn where the turbines would be sited.

“I’m trying to be open-minded,” he said.

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But some, such as lifelong Dixfield resident Susan Knight, have made up their minds.

“Wind energy is the wave of the future,” she said.

Others, such as Wendall Palmer, don’t want to see turbines spinning atop Colonel Holman Mountain.

“I want to keep up on what’s going on,” he said. “And how ridiculous this project is.”

The Quincy, Mass., company has proposed building up to 13 turbines on the ridgeline that could produce up to 33 megawatts of electricity.

Eddie Duncan, a sound engineer who is part of Patriot’s team, kept a device that measures sound going during the session. Decibels ranged from 50 to more than 80. He said the sounds that would emanate from the turbines would be kept at around 45.

Todd Presson, chief operating officer, said the session was held to give people a chance to ask questions and to learn more about the company’s plan.

“We’ll get back to them as soon as possible,” he said.

The project has been stalled for the past year because of a moratorium that gave town officials a chance to devise a wind ordinance. That proposed ordinance was withdrawn earlier this week because some portions of it are unclear.

Under serious consideration is the local ballot question on Tuesday. At that time, residents will decide whether to zone Colonel Holman Mountain as well as Sugarloaf Mountain in such a way as to essentially eliminate wind power development.

“We want to do this if the town wants to do it,” Presson said.

If voters approve the wind development ban, he said his company would still go ahead with its plans for the Carthage, Canton and Woodstock projects.

He said the Maine Department of Environmental Protection application was submitted for the Woodstock project about three weeks ago. Anyone opposing it has 30 days from the submission date to file an appeal.

He also said that his company submitted the MDEP application for the Carthage project earlier this week. It will be for up to 12 turbines on the Saddleback Mountain ridgeline and will not include an additional four turbines on the adjacent so-called town lots because clear ownership has not yet been determined.

Tom Carroll, project coordinator for the Canton, Carthage and Dixfield projects, said the Canton Planning Board will review a plan for the site of a substation to serve the three planned projects next Thursday.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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