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Spruce Mountain group appeals wind farm permit

WOODSTOCK – The Woodstock-based Friends of Spruce Mountain will appeal a land-use permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection allowing wind energy development.

Portland attorney Rufus Brown, who represents the nonprofit group, said he will file an appeal to the DEP on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

Brown said noise is his main concern. Opponents to wind projects point to Wind Turbine Syndrome, coined by a New York behavioral pediatrician to describe a series of symptoms found among people living near wind turbines.

The symptoms include trouble sleeping, headaches, dizziness, rapid heart rate and nausea.

Denise Hall of Woodstock, vice president of Friends of Spruce Mountain, lives about 2 miles from the proposed site but has friends who are much closer. She said residents are concerned about noise as well as property values falling.

“Common sense would tell you no one’s going to want to buy a property next to an industrial wind park,” Hall said Friday.

She said clear-cutting for the turbine platforms as well as roads and power lines would hurt the mountain and the wildlife there.

In March, Woodstock voters rejected a moratorium on wind power development by a 100-41 vote. The development plans included a $20,000 yearly payment to the town of Woodstock for 20 years.

On Oct. 5, the DEP approved a permit for Patriot Renewables of Quincy, Mass., to build 10 wind turbines and the necessary power lines and access roads along the ridgeline of Spruce Mountain. Each turbine produces 2 megawatts.

In the permit, the DEP cited a 2009 review prepared for the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association on health effects of wind turbines. After reviewing available literature on health effects blamed on wind turbines, the panel found no evidence that sounds from wind turbines caused health problems.

Because the project is in a rural area, the turbine noise audible by local residents must be 55 decibels or less in the daytime and 45 or less at night. A normal conservation level is 50-65 decibels.

At night, six of the towers would run in noise restricted mode to stay under the decibel limit.

This mode is part of Brown’s appeal. “We don’t think this (noise reduction technology) works as well in the real world as it’s been modeled to work,” Brown said Friday. He said the fact that so many turbines must use noise reduction technology indicates that the project is too close to residents.

Brown is currently appealing two other Maine wind projects, including one on Record Hill in Roxbury.

Andy Novey of Patriot Renewables is project developer for the Spruce Mountain Wind Project. He said the company’s noise models are conservative and the turbines will probably be quieter than projected.

“We did have a very conservative noise model,” Novey said. “There’s really no basis for an appeal.”

Novey said the company hopes to begin construction on the wind farm next spring as soon as weather allows.

Hall said her group doesn’t oppose wind power but believes it should be set up closer to highly populated areas. “We don’t feel it’s green energy to blast the mountains of Maine to ship the energy down to southern New England.”