LINCOLN, Maine — As opponents of a $120 million wind power development slated for Rollins Mountain, the Friends of Lincoln Lakes residents group will ask the Town Council and planning board next week for a moratorium on all pending wind projects, its organizers said Thursday.
Group members will attend council and board meetings next week after taking in the third hearing held by wind farm proponent First Wind of Massachusetts on Wednesday at Mattanawcook Academy, group member Gary Steinberg said. They fear that local boards haven’t had adequate time to learn enough about wind farms’ potentially hazardous impact upon municipalities and wildlife.
“I really don’t trust anything that I see here,” said Rick Kaul, who owns a camp on Long Pond near Rollins Mountain.
Group member Serena Kolb of Freeport, who owns a camp on Madagascal Pond in Burlington, questioned why the town would want to do business with First Wind, given the company is being investigated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office and has several lawsuits pending against it.
“It’s an unregulated industry,” Kolb said. “There’s no ordinances or laws in the towns where they [wind farms] are being proposed because it’s such a new industry here. Why should we do business with them when we know so little about who they are and what they do?”
Council Chairman Steve Clay and planning board Chairman Peter Phinney said they welcomed views from the group, which formerly was known as Friends of Rollins Ridge, but wouldn’t make any decisions until the group’s presentations were made.
“We have very little authority at this point unless we’re talking about a moratorium,” Clay said. “First Wind has to apply for a building permit with the planning board, not us.”
The council would have to support a moratorium declaration, Clay said.
The board is “in the beginning stages” of creating an ordinance regarding wind farms, Phinney said, having talked about one generally for several months. Nothing is ready for a board vote yet.
The Lincoln group is the second in Maine to push for a wind farm moratorium. A group of Fort Kent residents is proposing a moratorium until local officials develop ordinances governing the structures.
The group has gathered roughly 220 signatures on a petition seeking a 180-day moratorium on construction of commercial wind power facilities, as well as the processing of any applications. The petition would allow the Town Council to extend or cancel the moratorium once Fort Kent’s zoning and land-use ordinances have been amended to address wind power facilities.
The petition is a response to a Texas-based company, Horizon Wind, which has been negotiating lease agreements with landowners in the Fort Kent area and other parts of Aroostook County.
Horizon has yet to file an application with state or local authorities, but company officials have said they hope to build as many as 400 wind turbines in Aroostook County. Using today’s technology, 400 turbines could generate enough electricity to power one-third of Maine’s homes on a hot summer day, although turbines rarely function at maximum capacity or year-round.
First Wind will apply by the end of the year for permits to build 40 1.5-megawatt windmills in Burlington, Lincoln, Lee and Winn, creating as much as 60 megawatts of electricity through Evergreen Wind Power, a subsidiary of First Wind.
The group fears the project will create noise and flickering light with its massive windmill blades, which will disturb nearby residents and wildlife, decrease property values and provide no immediate or direct benefit to town electricity users, who buy electricity retail from Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.
The project is slated to sell electricity wholesale to the New England grid.
Residents near the 28-turbine Mars Hill wind farm owned by First Wind have complained of noise that disrupts sleep and about decreased property values. First Wind has responded by saying it has cooperated fully with the Attorney General’s Office investigation, that its projects make little noise and comply with Maine Department of Environmental Protection regulations regarding noise.
First Wind also is building a 38-turbine farm on Stetson Mountain between Danforth and Springfield.
Information about the Friends of Lincoln Lakes is available from Gary Steinberg at 994-8174 or e-mail Brad Blake at firstname.lastname@example.org.