Dixmont to vote on wind energy moratorium

Posted Feb. 01, 2009, at 9:45 p.m.

Residents of Dixmont will vote Wednesday on a proposal to impose a 180-day moratorium on industrial wind farms in order to give town officials time to study the pros and cons of such projects.

The moratorium proposal is in response to a Portland company that is exploring placing several large wind turbines on Dixmont’s Mount Harris. The company, Competitive Energy Services, is also affiliated with the three-turbine Beaver Ridge Wind Project that was completed recently in Freedom.

A special town meeting will be held to vote on the moratorium at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, at the Etna Dixmont School. Attendees also will have a chance to vote on the Dixmont comprehensive plan.

The language of the moratorium proposal states that existing land use laws in town are inadequate to prevent serious public harm from wind power development in Dixmont.

“Suitable sites and methods for wind power development need to be reviewed and identified,” the moratorium states. “Failure to carefully review and plan for wind power development will reduce options available to the town and may result in devaluation, blight, issues affecting public health and welfare, and environmental degradation.”

Residents of several Maine towns have proposed moratoriums in order to slow down wind power projects. In most cases, supporters of the moratoriums say the towns lack the legal mechanisms to ensure that the turbines, which often measure nearly 400 feet tall from base to blade tip, are sited properly.

Supporters of wind energy tout the technology as an abundant, local source of pollution-free energy. Maine is New England’s leading producer of wind energy. But critics contend that noise, vibrations and light flickering off the enormous spinning blades can disrupt sleep, affect neighbors’ enjoyment of their property and even be unhealthful for some individuals.

Voters in the town of Jackson, located just a few miles from Dixmont, already have approved a moratorium.

In a letter to Dixmont residents, Competitive Energy Services vows to work with residents.

“If the moratorium passes, we will work with your planning board to develop building ordinances that ensure that wind development is consistent with the interests of the town of Dixmont,” the letter states.

The full moratorium is available on the town’s Web site at www.townofdixmont.org.

Information about the Mount Harris project and other wind projects is available on Competitive Energy Services’ Web site at www.competitive-energy.com/mhwind.

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