Across Maine, voters speak out on wind power and reject Vinalhaven model

An interesting series of elections in Maine towns this week confirm that the experience of Vinalhaven neighbors, Mars and Record Hill, have made voters deeply suspicious of the claims that wind turbines will be a positive good for their communities. 

 

Various newspaper accounts of last night’s results from Brooksville, Cushing and Rumford:

Rumford wind ordinance OK’d; Charter amendment fails

By Terry Karkos, Staff Writer
Published on Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Last updated on Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm 1 Comment

Supporters of Rumford’s third proposed ordinance to regulate wind energy facilities strategically parked vehicles with signs like this on streets drivers or walkers had to take to reach Tuesday’s polls at the American Legion on upper Congress Street. In June, their signs said to reject the second proposed ordinance, claiming it wasn’t finished yet.

– Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

RUMFORD — Third time’s a charm proved true Tuesday when a majority of voters overwhelmingly approved the third proposed wind ordinance in two years.

The tally was 1,137 “yes” to 465 “no,” Town Manager Carlo Puiia said. Fifty ballots were blank, meaning those voters didn’t select either answer.

The vote essentially kills any wind farms coming to Rumford until technology improves or the ordinance gets amended, he said.

“I guess it remains to be seen how this ordinance will affect our community, because we know now that First Wind has contacted me and said they were pulling out,” Puiia said.

When it first proposed building wind turbines atop Rumford hills two years ago, the Boston-based wind developer prompted moratoriums against such development to give the town time to draft an ordinance to regulate wind.

“So, I guess like I said, as far as development here for wind, it’s not in the foreseeable future,” Puiia said.

“That doesn’t mean they can’t possibly come here if the technology were to change and they could be able to meet the standards or, if in the future, the standards were to be changed. In other words, the ordinance can be amended.”

However, he said he doesn’t think the board will do so soon.

“I think they’ll accept the vote as it is,” Puiia said.

Rumford’s first proposed wind ordinance, which many believed to be too restrictive, was defeated in November 2010. The second one, thought to be too liberal, was defeated in June.

This third ordinance swung back toward the first proposal in that Puiia said last month that he didn’t believe it would allow any wind projects using current technology.

But unlike the first two, selectmen included a straw poll with the third proposal to learn the rationale behind Tuesday’s balloting.

“What’s ironic is that the one that got the most votes was, ‘I support having wind power in Rumford,’” Puiia said.

That statement on the straw poll got 557 votes, whereas 479 opted for, “I do not support having wind power in Rumford,” he said.

He said 140 said the ordinance was sufficient, 65 said it was too restrictive, 41 said it was not restrictive enough, and 94 voted none of the above.

Puiia said there were also 80 to 100 straw poll tallies of people voting for one of the choices twice, which means those must be sorted out to discern intent.

Tuesday’s ballot vote, however, wasn’t for or against wind power. It was a vote on how Rumford governs a wind energy facility if one were to be built in town.

A “yes” vote to approve the ordinance allowed local regulation on wind towers. A “no” vote would have allowed state regulation on wind towers.

The other straw poll question asked voters if they wanted selectmen to establish a charter commission. That was approved 836 “yes” to 581 “no.”

As for the second issue on the ballot, voters rejected a proposal to amend the Charter to allow selectmen to annually appoint nonresidents as town auditor, town attorney, code enforcement officer, plumbing inspector and sealer of weights and measures. The tally was 767 “yes” to 839 “no.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

 

http://www.sunjournal.com/news/river-valley/2011/11/09/rumford-wind…

Ban on large wind turbines approved in Brooksville

By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 08, 2011, at 11:13 p.m.

BROOKSVILLE, Maine — Residents here voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a wind power ordinance that likely means the Hancock County town will be off-limits to commercial wind energy facilities.

Voters endorsed the “Wind Energy Systems Ordinance” by a vote of 274 to 111, according to unofficial results provided Tuesday night by town officials. The ordinance was intended to be proactive since there are no pending applications for commercial wind power facilities in the community.

The new rules prohibit all wind turbines with towers standing taller than 100 feet, thereby banning the massive, 250- to 300-foot-tall towers used by most grid-scale wind energy companies in Maine.

Smaller wind turbines, such as those erected by homeowners and businesses, would still be allowed within town but would have to receive approval from either the code enforcement officer or the planning board, depending on the power output of the turbine. The maximum generation capacity allowed under the ordinance is 50 kilowatts.

Additionally, the ordinance adopts noise standards for wind turbines that are stricter than those currently required by the state. Turbines will be prohibited from generating in excess of 35 decibels for any continuous, 5-minute period — except during unusual weather events — as measured from neighboring properties. That standard is also more stringent than new, 42-decibel standards proposed by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection.

 

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/11/08/news/hancock/ban-on-large-win…

 

Cushing approves new wind turbine ordinance, other rule changes

By Staff | Nov 08, 2011

Photo by: File photo

CUSHING — Cushing residents voted Nov. 8 to enact a new town Wind Turbine Ordinance, limiting wind turbines to a maximum of 80 feet tall.

Residents supported the proposed ordinance by a vote of 273 to 181.

Under the ordinance wind turbines that meet the height requirement will be required to meet sound limits at the property lines. These limits will not support large commercial wind turbine installations. As a point of reference, the three commercial wind turbines on Vinalhaven are over 250 feet tall.

Residents also voted 253 to 192 to approve the Site Plan Review Ordinance, which sets standards for new non-residential land uses. It includes restrictions for drug dispensaries. Existing uses, fishing home occupations, forestry, and agriculture uses are exempt from the new standards.

A revision to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance was favored by a vote of 263 to 184, requiring an applicant for a non-residential land use in the shoreland zone to notify abutting neighbors. In addition, the definition of a Fishing Home Business has been changed to allow three employees instead of two. Changes to comply with Maine Department of Environmental Protection are also included in the revised ordinance.

Townspeople also voted 292 to 155 to support a revision to the Public Road Ordinance clarifying requirements for road names, signs, and traffic control devices.

The full text of all four documents appears on the Cushing website at cushing.maine.gov.

http://knox.villagesoup.com/news/story/cushing-approves-new-wind-tu…

 

And a few related articles:

 

Frankfort wind ordinance misses Election Day

By Ethan Andrews | Nov 08, 2011

Source: waldocommunitywind.comA photo illustration by wind energy developer Eolian Renewable Energy showing what four wind turbines might look like on Mount Waldo in Frankfort.

FRANKFORT — A proposed wind energy ordinance in Frankfort will come before voters at a special election, to be held Thursday, Dec. 1.

Selectman Allan Gordon said town officials originally hoped to include the ordinance on the Nov. 8 ballot, but the document was not completed within the statutory window prior to Election Day.

The wind energy ordinance came in response to a proposal by Portsmouth, N.H.-based Eolian Renewable Energy to erect four to six turbines on Mount Waldo. The company has said the location is ideal for wind energy generation and is already subject to commercial uses. The  facility would also bring new tax revenue to the town, according to figures from the developer.

Eolian officially approached the town earlier this year. Residents approved a 180-day moratorium in March. The vote also established a five-member committee to draft the wind energy-specific ordinance. Frankfort currently has no municipal zoning ordinance.

The proposed wind energy ordinance includes 1-mile setbacks from abutting property lines. In combination with restrictive noise regulations, company representatives and town officials have said passage of the ordinance would likely amount to a ban on industrial-scale wind turbines.

For the Dec. 1 referendum, residents will be asked to approve the proposed wind ordinance. The ordinance is available at the Frankfort town office. A rebuttal to the ordinance from Eolian is available at waldocommunitywind.com.

http://waldo.villagesoup.com/news/story/frankfort-wind-ordinance-mi…

 

Sumner residents debate pros, cons of wind ordinance

By Tom Standard, Special to the Sun Journal
Published on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 12:12 am | Last updated on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 12:12 am 1 Comment

SUMNER — More than 50 residents attended an informational meeting on the proposed industrial wind ordinance on Wednesday night, listening to arguments for and against.

Selectman Mary Ann Haxton moderated the meeting. She and committee members stressed that if the town adopts an ordinance it maintains control of wind power developments. She said the ordinance would protect the town in the four major areas of economics, environment, safety and health.

“The intent of the ordinance is to eliminate the downside risk while maximizing the upside potential,” Chairman Larry O’Rourke said.

Clear Sky Energy LLC of Barnstable, Mass., has proposed building five wind turbines on Spruce Hills, which includes, Mount Tom in the southwest area of town off Decoster Road.

O’Rourke pointed out that without an ordinance, any wind developer can place a wind farm in Sumner using the state fast-track permitting procedures and only complying with the lax state regulations. He said that within the month, two Maine towns that did not have local wind ordinances lost in state court when they tried to halt wind installations they said were damaging to the town and its residents.

O’Rourke showed state revenue calculations that indicate nearly three-quarters of Sumner taxpayers would receive less than $50 a year in benefits for the life of the Clear Sky project, if it’s built.

He said that the ordinance would require developers to compete to maximize benefits to the town and require an agreement that the town’s income would increase if the developer’s income increases in the future. He said that the ordinance would require the town to determine the best deal it can get then to decide if it is worth it.

Health Subcommittee Chairman Lana Pratt and member Jeff Pfeifer said there is no acceptable level of damage to the health of Sumner residents. They said they had done extensive research on health concerns and solicited input from residents on an acceptable setback for the wind turbines.

Resident Bob Kennelly said it appeared the committee was trying to write an ordinance that would prevent installation of wind turbines in Sumner. He said he was familiar with the installations in Lincoln and near his camp in Danforth. He said there was no objectionable noise or vibration from the turbines. He had seen wildlife go under the wind turbines and one of his friends bagged a moose under one this year, he said.

Kennelly said he believes Sumner needs the new source of revenue and that while an ordinance should protect the town it should not be overly restrictive.

Another resident said she knew of two towns that had rejected wind installations and then regretted the loss of revenue.

There will be a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Hartford-Sumner Elementary School on the ordinance, including changes recommended at Wednesday’s meeting. The ordinance will be posted on the town website by Sunday.

A draft with Wednesday’s recommendations will be presented to selectmen at their meeting Tuesday, Nov. 8.

A final public hearing is set for Wednesday, Nov. 9.

A vote on the ordinance is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the school.

http://www.sunjournal.com/news/oxford-hills/2011/10/28/sumner-resid…

 

Wind power moratorium gets hearing in Peru

 

By Mary Standard, Special to the Sun Journal

Published on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 12:12 am | Last updated on Friday, Oct 28, 2011 at 12:12 am 3 Comments

PERU — Chairman Bill Hine told a hearing Thursday night that his Wind Ordinance Committee is waiting to see the impact of wind power developments in Woodstock and Roxbury before drafting regulations for Peru.

Hine said the turbines on Spruce Mountain in Woodstock and Record Hill in Roxbury are near enough to Peru that residents can get feedback on their environmental impact to help in writing regulations. Spruce Mountain will have 20 turbines; Record Hill, 22.

Hine said a proposed 180-day moratorium on wind power development will give the committee time to develop an ordinance that will have enough restrictions that could discourage a developer, if that’s what residents want.

“If you don’t want wind power, vote for the moratorium on Nov. 8. This will give the committee a better idea of what the town actually wants,” Hine said.

“The passage of the moratorium will give the committee 180 days to write an ordinance and no windmills can be built during this time. The Board of Selectmen can extend the moratorium if more time is needed to write the ordinance,” he said.

Jim Pulsifer asked why selectmen approved a meteorological test tower for Black Mountain before the hearing.

Selectman Kathy Hussey said they didn’t feel that the test tower would be the same as a string of windmills.

Hine said they chose to exempt test towers.

Several people wanted to know who would get the benefits of the wind power.

Hine said that would be up to what the town required of the developers and what was written in the ordinance.

 

http://www.sunjournal.com/news/river-valley/2011/10/28/wind-power-m…

 

Spirited debate meets Appleton town meeting

By Kim Lincoln | Jun 16, 2011
EXCERPTS:
APPLETON — Residents offered passionate discussion and made several amendments at the 2011 annual town meeting June 15.

Residents approved a Wind Energy Facility Ordinance to guide projects. The ordinance defines four classes of turbines, reserving tougher restrictions for turbines that generate more than 100 kilowatts and are more than 80 feet tall, and projects with more than one turbine. The ordinance does not effect turbines already built in town, unless the homeowner wishes to make changes or updates.

Randall Parr, who is an associate member of the planning board, spoke against the ordinance.

“It’s a backward move to put a hurdle and bureaucracy in the way of building a wind turbine,” Parr said.

Parr said wind power is the most renewable, clean and efficient energy and the town should not be discouraging landowners from installing windmills.

He said the ordinance defines the various classes of turbines by kilowatts, but if a person were to build their own turbine they would not know how much power is generated until it is actually built. He also stated that the town’s building and site ordinance conflicts with the wind ordinance because a height limit of 34 feet is already in place inAppleton.

Planning board member David Kelley said that the board did a lot of research and the ordinance gives guidance on how to install a turbine safely, which addresses setbacks from neighboring properties.

“I’m tired of people telling me what I can do on my own property,” Stone said.

Liz Sullivan said if people read it they would see that it doesn’t restrict an individual taking advantage of wind power and puts more restrictions on larger developments.

“Let’s support our planning board, they have our town’s best interest,” Sullivan said. 

http://knox.villagesoup.com/news/story/spirited-debate-meets-appleton-town-meeting/411108

Rockport and Hope, Maine voters approve wind amendments. (June 15, 2011)

At the polls on June 14th, Rockport citizens voted 396-94 to support an amendment to the Land Use Ordinance as it pertains to wind development. This Ordinance includes a 100 foot turbine height limit, allows only one turbine per parcel of land and requires the electricity produced to be used at that parcel.

Hope voters approved a 180-Day Wind Power Moratorium , 191-131, to allow the town the time needed to draft a specific Wind Ordinance. After six months, voters will have the opportunity to vote for or against that Ordinance. Ordinances are important to protect the health, safety and welfare of town citizens.

http://friendsofraggedmountain.org/form_updates_2011.html

Long IslanderComment by Long Islander 3 hours ago

The following message was just emailed to me:

The Rumford vote is so  wonderful for all those early groups who fought much  in the onslaught and initial battles, before there was a state coalition movement. None of them lost, becasue the word was SPREAD!
The Bowers initial LURC decision (the slime will keep trying) and the Rumford, Dixmont and other wise ordinance decisions are the result of much prior work and battles fought .
Lexington was lost in 1775. The first battles were hard and dirty, the turbines went up, but the war was only starting.
WELL DONE RUMFORD, HOME RULE RULES!
Towns are waking up, LURC is on the run, and the Wind Scammers are very worried.
Gary

 

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 2010http://pinetreewatchdog.org/2010/08/09/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/ From 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?”http://pinetreewatchdog.org/2010/08/11/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From 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.”http://pinetreewatchdog.org/2010/08/12/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: