Greenwood voters to decide wind issue Monday

After more than a year of research and debate, Greenwood voters Monday will decide the fate of proposed amendments to the commercial wind farm section of town ordinance.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall on Gore Road, next to the Town Office.

The Calpine Corporation has been studying the viability of a 13-turbine ‘Long Mountain Wind Farm’ project in the area of Long, Tibbetts and Elwell mountains, near Twitchell Pond. Prompted by the potential development, Greenwood’s Ordinance Review Committee has proposed the updates for the ordinance.

Many property owners have expressed concern about what they say are possible negative effects of wind turbines in areas such as noise, health, scenic resources, wildlife and property values.

One new ordinance provision – the height restriction on turbine towers – would effectively ban commercial wind projects, according to town officials.

Under the current ordinance, there are no tower height limits specified.

The ORC has recommended limiting tower heights to 250 feet (as measured from the tower base to the highest point of any turbine rotor blade, at the highest arc of the blade).

Calpine has said its wind facility would need towers that are more than 500 feet in height, and the project would likely utilize 600-foot towers.

Noise, setbacks

The town’s existing ordinance limits decibel levels from routine operation of wind turbines to 55 decibels daytime and 42 at night at non-participating landowner property lines, the same as state guidelines. Setbacks from property lines are a minimum of 150 percent of the height of the towers.

The new ordinance proposal includes a recommendation for decibel limits with a daytime audible decibel maximum of 35, and 25 decibels at night.

New setbacks of one mile per 100 feet of tower height would also be established.

Among other areas addressed by the ordinance and/or in discussion at Greenwood meetings are considerations of health, wildlife and scenic resources, as well as procedures for filing complaints and for decommissioning the turbines.

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LETTER by Ronald and Susan Dorman - Aug 1, 2018

We are responding to a column from the Center for Rural Affairs that was printed recently in The Bethel Citizen (July 26). It was titled “Are property values affected by wind farms?” The organization, based in Nebraska, is a nonprofit corporation aiding rural concerns in predominantly agricultural landscapes. The column didn’t specifically address other land uses.

According to the column, rural land is unaffected in value by the presence of massive wind turbines. The term “rural land” was broadly used. The column did not address problems faced by landowners who live nearby in communities with year-round and seasonal housing close by. Mountains here contribute to amplified effects, echoing industrial turbine sound vibrations.

Tourism is now a large part of the local economy since the closing of many wood mills. Local properties that are in proximity to corporately owned and managed turbines will lose their value.

These landscapes are like a comparison of oranges and apples. Or, more nearly, between wide-open working spaces with no mountainous reverberations – and mountainous neighborhoods of homes, lakes, brooks and family-raising and leisure activities.

The Center for Rural Affairs’ column might have been more even-handed, explanatory and considerate of locals.

Greenwood will be voting on a proposed wind tower ordinance on Aug. 6.

Ronald and Susan Dorman, Bethel

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Comment by Dan McKay on August 3, 2018 at 5:43am

The adoption of this ordinance presents a victory of wisdom over unconditional greed.

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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