RUMFORD – With dozens of wind
turbines proposed in a half-dozen towns in various stages of
planning, the Wind Farm Development Committee of Rumford is planning
a panel discussion on the pros and cons of such development.

The forum begins at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 in
Muskie Auditorium of Mountain Valley High School.

The local committee is particularly
concerned with tentative plans by First Wind, LLC, of Newton, Mass.,
to site a 40-megawatt wind farm on the ridge that connects Black,
South Twin and North Twin mountains. Most of the site is in
Rumford, with a small portion in Roxbury.

“We want to get more information
about it,” said Karl Aromaa, one of the committee’s members. “We
want to get both sides.”

Among the panelists are: Albert
Aniel, a 30-year physician in the Rumford area; Steve Thurston, a
Roxbury summer resident and Vermont resident who heads up Peoples’
Task Force on Wind Power; J. Dwight, Wilton, a member of the Maine
Heritage Policy Center; Tom Powell, a Dixfield businessman who has
discussed a wind farm proposal in Dixfield; Steve Bennet, whose home
is near a Freedom wind farm; and Lisa Linowes, a New
Hampshire resident who is executive director of Industrial Wind
Action Group.

Aromaa said one or more First Wind
representatives are expected to appear. He is also looking for a
representative from the state or other organization, such as the
Natural Resources Council of Maine, to attend the forum.

He said the Rumford group began meeting
a couple of months ago after watching the Roxbury process which
included opposition from many of the town’s residents. Independence
Wind, owned by Robert Gardiner and former Gov. Angus King, received
approval recently to construct 22 wind turbines on a ridge in the
town.

Also being looked at are a ridge in
Carthage that would accommodate 12 or 13 turbines, three in
Buckfield, 10 to 13 in Woodstock, and 8 to 20 in Dixfield.

Dixfield plans to hold a special town
meeting next week asking for action on a proposed moratorium on wind
farms until an ordinance can be written. Buckfield selectmen are
considering the same thing. Rumford selectmen turned down a request
for a moratorium last month. Carthage continues to work on the
ownership of part of the ridge where an expanded proposed wind farm could
could be sited. Most of the land proposed for a wind farm is under
private ownership.

In Woodstock, Patriot Renewables’
proposal has advanced to going before the Planning Board next month
for site plan review.

First Wind has dozens of wind projects
in various stages of development throughout the Northeast and western
states.

Another forum to explore wind energy
issues in Oxford County is also planned for 7 a.m. Oct. 23 at the
Four Seasons Function Center in Paris. That event is hosted by the
Western Maine Economic Development Council and will include
representatives from Patriot Renewables, Kean Project Engineering of Turner,
the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Thurston and others.

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