November 15, 2007

Wind farm developers defend project

For nearly three hours Wednesday night, former Maine Gov. Angus King and Robert Gardiner answered a variety of questions from about 60 people on their proposed $80 million to $150 million wind farm project in Byron and Roxbury.

King and Gardiner, a former director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine who once headed Maine Public Broadcasting Corp., created Brunswick-based Independence Wind LLC, which was formed to develop large-scale wind projects in New England.

Their first project is a 23- to 29-tower farm proposed for five miles of ridge in a straight line from Partridge Peak in Roxbury north to Old Turk Mountain in Byron at elevations of between 2,000 and 2,500 feet.

Many concerns Wednesday focused on the view and on property values of camps along Ellis or Roxbury Pond in Roxbury and Little Ellis or Garland Pond in Byron. These are places from which the approximately 250-foot-high turbine towers – each with three blades that are nearly 150 feet long – will be visible.

Susan Coulombe, who grew up at Garland Pond, said her camp would be affected by the towers. Some of them would be about a half-mile from the pond

“At sunrise I will have shadows come across the lake from the turbines,” she said. “It’s going to alter my whole view of that lake. Right now, it’s quiet and pristine. There’s no electricity and you can hear people talking from across the lake. I believe in wind power, but that is awful close to that pond.”

“It’s ironic. You’re being asked to support a wind-power plant when there is no electricity at Garland Pond,” King answered, speaking to many Garland Pond camp owners who wondered aloud how the project would serve their interests. “Your taxes will probably go down.”

“Everything isn’t about money,” answered Coulombe’s mother, Karen Gallant of Rumford, to which King readily agreed.

Both Gardiner and King said they understand the consensus of many Garland Pond camp owners, but asked them to consider the bigger picture.

“We’re hoping that you people on Garland and Roxbury Pond will see this in two years as a clean energy solution that hasn’t affected your lifestyle,” Gardiner said.

“I’d like to say we’ll buy your cottages, but I don’t know what to do to make you happy. This is a big deal for a whole lot of people,” King said.

When asked how they’d like it if a wind farm were proposed to be built near their homes, both King and Gardiner said they would welcome wind towers.

“I think these things look pretty cool. Would it bother me if it were in my view? When I look at a windmill, we’re not burning anything to create electricity,” King said. Then, citing an article in the Bangor Daily News, King added, “We’ve got to start doing wind so we’re not buying oil and getting into wars.”

That was followed by applause.

Several people spoke in favor of the project.

Roxbury Town Clerk Tina Howard said she thinks wind farms are important to pursue.

“It’s not as visually homely as people would think,” she said. “I hope it comes to fruition for us. We as taxpayers need breaks … I think this is a very positive thing for Roxbury and I think we ought to embrace it.”

By Terry Karkos
Staff Writer

The Sun Journal

15 November 2007

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