Proposed wind power ordinance generates interest in Buckfield

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BUCKFIELD — The town office meeting room was packed by interested residents eager to discuss the proposed wind energy facility ordinance.

The proposed ordinance requires a 1 mile setback from any home. Planning Board member Stacey Scotia explained that the board had decided to primarily rely on a setback rather than on sound levels due to the technical problems and expenses of sound studies. However, there is still a requirement that a sound study be made for all affected homes, not just those within 1 mile, she said.

When asked if the purpose of the ordinance was to prevent the development of commercial wind power in Buckfield, Scotia said that was definitely not the case. She said that the purpose was to protect residents of Buckfield from annoying noise. Noise complaints from existing wind power projects are greatly reduced beyond 1 mile and other towns are finding this a satisfactory setback. However, she said, due to the variable effects of terrain, sound may be louder a mile and a half from the turbines than it is a half mile away. That is why the proposed ordinance also calls for a sound study of all affected residencies.

Resident Kennard Hicks said that he would be all in favor of wind turbines if they were really about being “green. But they are not about being green, they are about money.” He went on to point out that he felt the environmental impact of their construction, shipping and erection far exceeded any benefit from electrical generation. He said that since wind is unreliable fossil-fueled backup generation is required for every wind turbine. He said that virtually none of the equipment would be made in Maine or the U.S.

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Town Manager Glen Holmes pointed out that the ordinance was not intended to limit the construction of individual residential wind turbines. Until an ordinance is written covering these units, the Planning Board will consider them on an individual basis. Board member Tony Buckley said that they would probably be inappropriate in the village but most Buckfield residents could install one in their backyard. He indicated that the review would consider ice throw from the blades and whether the tower would hit adjacent buildings if it collapsed.

There will be another public hearing on the ordinance at 6:30 p.m. on May 15 at the Buckfield Town Office.

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