PARKMAN, Maine – Residents will get a six-week head start on the town meeting season. Parkman’s annual town meeting is only about two months away, but the selectmen unanimously voted on Dec. 11 to hold a special town meeting in February to hear a wind power company’s request to establish a transmission line corridor near the Abbot town line.
The selectmen agreed to hold the special town meeting on Saturday, Feb. 2, in the Parkman Grange Hall.
The article will ask residents to approve First Wind’s request for establishing a power line corridor along Crow Hill Road in Parkman to Gael’s Road in Abbot.
First Wind LLC – a wind energy company based in Boston – wants the corridor as part of its Bingham Project, which has windmills in Bingham, Kingfield and Mayfield Township.
First Wind plans on transporting electricity produced by its Somerset County wind farms to Central Maine Power Co.’s Parkman substation and then on to Greenville. The firm is requesting a 66-foot right-of-way along a three- to four-mile route from Parkman to Abbot.
First Wind will assume all costs for holding the special town meeting. If residents approve the request, First Wind and town officials would enter into a community benefits agreement. The terms would require First Wind to pay the town $20,000 per year for 20 years.
“It’s a pretty simple agreement,” said David Fowler, a First Wind senior land manager. “We are not asking the town to do anything to receive the money. It states in the event the project goes forward, then Parkman would receive compensation.”
If First Wind sells its interest in the corridor, the buyer would still be required to meet the agreement’s terms. The only exception in the 20-year agreement is if the company stopped transmitting power through the corridor.
Fowler also explained that the project would produce additional property tax revenue. He estimated between First Wind’s plans and CMP upgrading its substation, it would increase property values by $500,000.
Selectman James Morin Sr. said there was no risk or cost to the town, so it was worth holding the special election. He also believed if Parkman didn’t grant First Wind a right-of-way access through town, the corridor would probably go through someplace else.
“It’s got to go somewhere,” Morin said. “We all know this, so if the town could get some monies, we might as well take it.”
The selectmen will meet with Fowler during their next board meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, to work out the details for planning and advertising the special town meeting.
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