The months-long review process of a proposed $12 million wind power project on Beaver Ridge has ended with the application winning the necessary town permits, but an appeal is in the works.
Competitive Energy Services LLC of Portland announced in March it wanted to build three towers with wind turbines to produce 4.5 megawatts of electricity to be sold commercially through Central Maine Power’s electric grid.
At peak production, the electricity would be enough to power 2,000 houses.
In two separate town votes, the project won support of about two-thirds of those voting. In August, a special ordinance to consider wind power projects won easy approval, and in September a proposed six-month moratorium on wind projects was defeated, both in special town meetings.
But a group, including several whose properties abut the 76-acre site, will appeal the approval to the town’s board of appeals.
Steve Bennett, a town selectman who has opposed the project, said Thursday an appeal is being prepared by the group’s attorney, Ed Bearor of Bangor. The appeal must be filed within 30 days of the approval.
The planning board voted 5-1 on Dec. 7 to approve the project. The board at its Jan. 4 meeting is expected to sign the building permits.
Richard Silkman, one of the principal owners of CES, said Thursday the project will not proceed until the expected appeals have been exhausted. If no appeal is filed, roads and other site work would begin in the summer or fall, and the towers and turbines installed in 2008.
If challenges to the town appeals board and then, hypothetically at least, to Waldo County Superior Court fail, then CES would secure financing for the project, Silkman said. The company also would then order the turbines and towers, he said, which are in such high demand worldwide as to cause supply delays.
The project must meet noise standards included in the town’s updated ordinance of no more than 55 decibels at the property lines. Silkman said the turbines would meet that standard.
The slow-moving blades make a sound Silkman described as “woof, woof.”
The three towers would each be 260 feet high, with three-blade turbines, each blade measuring 125 feet long. When one of the blades is at the apex, it would rise about 400 feet off the ground.
Silkman said the Federal Aviation Administration agreed that just two of the three towers must be lighted. The project does not require state Department of Environmental Protection review.
Wires leading from the towers will be located underground until they link with CMP lines on Sibley Road, Silkman said. CES will lease the site from Ron Price, a Knox dairy farmer. Price’s nephew works for CES.
Bennett said the property surrounds a parcel of land he owns on three sides, so two turbines would be on one side of his property, and the other one on the other side.
Most of the dozen or so abutters are joining in the appeal, he said.
He believes the board erred procedurally and in its interpretation of the ordinance. Bennett declined to speculate whether he and the other opponents would challenge the permit in court should the town appeal fail.
By Tom Groening
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