Maine, N.Y. towns eye wind farm regulations

Posted Oct. 22, 2008, at 8:26 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6 a.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — The planning board doesn’t believe a moratorium on wind farms, or new regulations regarding massive wind turbines, are necessary, but other Maine and upstate New York towns disagree, a news survey revealed Wednesday.

B. Michael Ireland, vice chairman of the planning board, said a moratorium would delay the project six months — not eliminate it.

“We have to see what they want to do in order to judge it properly,” Ireland, a land-use permitting environmental consultant, said at a board meeting on Tuesday.

Board members readily admitted that they hadn’t any experience dealing with wind turbines, but said it would be their responsibility to learn. Lincoln’s land-use laws are comprehensive enough to make further regulations regarding wind farms unnecessary, Ireland said.

The board, Ireland said, will also rely upon Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection to help evaluate the project. First Wind requires permits from DEP, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn, the towns in which its proposed $120 million Rollins Mountain wind farm would be built.

Fort Kent is pondering a one-year moratorium on wind farms and Wallagrass, Byron, and Roxbury have passed moratoriums, said Lisa Linowes of Industrial Wind Action Group, an anti-windpower advocacy organization in New Hampshire.

In upstate New York, Newfield has a moratorium on wind development, Farmersville is introducing one, and Ithaca recently approved residential turbine regulations, a nexis.com search revealed Wednesday.

Common threads run through New York towns’ concerns: the lack of information about wind farms, their potential adverse impacts and how best to glean economic benefits from them.

Upstate New York has at least six farms, with at least six more being pursued, similar to the Mars Hill wind farm First Wind of Massachusetts built last year. First Wind is building a farm on Stetson Mountain and hopes to build a $120 million farm on Rollins Mountain in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn next year.

It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether Maine DEP requires studies similar to New York requirements, but the more than 500 pages of incomplete DEP permit application that First Wind officials displayed at Tuesday’s planning board meeting testified to the company’s thoroughness and willingness to comply with state laws, a spokesman said.

nsambides@bangordailynews.net

794-8215

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