OAKLAND – Wind turbines may eventually generate power for several or all municipal buildings here, if voters authorize the town to go forward with the idea.
A consultant returned “favorable” results on a study to determine whether local wind conditions are suitable for constructing a wind farm, according to Oakland Town Councilor Ralph Farnham Jr., although the town has not yet elaborated on the study.
Constructing a wind farm potentially would benefit the community by “reducing the cost to taxpayers over a period of time,” Farnham said. “The new generation of wind generating has a 30-plus-year life span, so, if you can get it paid back in 10 years, it’s a minimal cost to the town.”
Farnham said the town is investigating the specifics of the economic feasibility of the project. He hopes to present in March some sort of proposal to voters in Oakland’s town meeting.
Maine, the Associated Press reported earlier this month, is New England’s largest generator of wind power.
The state’s Land Use Regulation Commission is considering wind turbine projects on Black Nubble Mountain in Redington and Wyman townships.
The agency also is taking a look at large-scale wind farm proposals targeting plots of land in Kibby and Skinner townships in Franklin County.
But Oakland’s proposal, still in nascent stages, to use town-owned wind turbines to power municipal buildings is relatively uncommon in the state, according to Maine Municipal Association Communications Director Mike Starn.
“Saco is a community that’s done it,” he said.
“Maybe one or two others have looked at it or perhaps done it. Obviously, the windmill idea is both controversial and popular.”
A 28-turbine project on Mars Hill began generating power and controversy in the past couple of years, and the company that built it, Evergreen Wind Power LLC, is planning an even larger project on Stetson Mountain. Opponents of wind farm projects protest that the turbines are noisy and disturb the habitats of various indigenous species.
Oakland’s wind farm, as Farnham envisions it, would be on a much smaller scale, generating about half of the 29,000 kilowatts per month that the town’s municipal buildings use on average.
“I think it’s good to explore your options no matter what,” Starn said, referring to Farnham’s idea. “Obviously, there’s a huge concern over the cost of energy. So government officials are exploring what alternatives they have for all types of energy conservation and alternative fuels.”
24 January 2008
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