MONTVILLE, Maine — Residents voted at Saturday’s annual town meeting to join some of their Waldo and Penobscot county neighbors in adopting a strict wind energy ordinance that would require mile-wide setbacks between wind turbine towers and homes.
According to Montville First Selectman Jay LeGore, the vote was 90 in favor of the ordinance and 39 against, with a voter turnout he characterized as “typical.”
Most of the discussion about the wind energy ordinance at the meeting was to make sure that new rules would not apply to wind turbines smaller than 100 kilowatts and less than 150 feet high, he said Monday.
At last year’s annual town meeting, Montville residents instituted a yearlong moratorium on wind development until an ordinance could be written, he said.
The vote follows Thorndike’s adoption of a similar ordinance at its annual town meeting last Saturday. Dixmont and Jackson also have ordinances that give the towns high levels of local control and have caused energy company Mount Harris Wind to state that it will not follow through with plans to build more turbines there.
Montville resident John Bednarik said he spoke in favor of the ordinance.
“Basically, what it applies to is large, industrial windmills, as far as the regulations go,” he said. “It’s about concern for the health and safety of people in the town.”
Bednarik said he has been to the site of a three-turbine project in Beaver Ridge in neighboring Freedom that was constructed in 2008 by Mount Harris Wind. He compared the noise he heard there to the constant sound of a jet taking off a few miles away.
“I’m very much in favor of alternative energy of all sorts … but these big windmills, as far as I’m concerned, aren’t alternative energy,” he said. “They’re a tax break.”
Proponents of wind power in Maine communities have said that their construction could increase the local tax base and provide jobs, as well as reduce the state’s dependence on foreign oil.