A proposed 60-foot wind turbine cleared hurdles about the noise it will generate and was approved at the Nov. 3 Kennebunkport Planning Board meeting. The project passed 3-2. John Hathaway and Leo Famolare opposed.
The turbine was initiated by the town conservation commission, said Town Manager Larry Mead, town liaison for the proposal.
“They came forward and requested the town’s support for a grant from Efficiency Maine,” Mead said.
Sarah Lachance, chairman of the commission, said the grant called for proposals for community demonstration projects under Maine’s renewable resources fund, making its main purpose educational.
“When we were thinking of doing the grant we decided to choose wind because I also work on a committee at (Consolidate School) and at the same time we had an emphasis on trying to get a solar panel project there,” she said.
The turbine, to be constructed adjacent to the town’s Route 9 police station, is expected to save money on the department’s monthly energy bill.
Kennebunkport Police Chief Joe Bruni said he is excited the proposal passed.
“First of all, I’m glad because we are taking a step to go green and demonstrate to the public that we’re making efforts here,” he said. “And that we’re making efforts to cut costs.”
With Consolidated School’s solar panel complete, the addition of the wind turbine will establish two renewable energy projects within less than a half-mile of each other.
“I know there were some concerns of whether the kids would get anything out of it,” Bruni said. “I think they’ll get a lot out of it. If anything, they will see that we’re trying our best to help the environment and set an example for others.”
For Lachance, the educational opportunity extends beyond schoolchildren.
“I am excited about the opportunity to educate the general public about the lack of sound nuisance with residential-size wind turbines,” she said. “I think there has been so much news coverage about the sound issues associated with the industrial-size turbines that most people make the assumption that all wind turbines produce a great deal of noise.”
The town worked hard to address citizen concerns of the possible noise.
“We did a sound study,” Mead said. “We used a consultant from Brunswick called Resource Systems Engineering. They have a lot of expertise in wind projects. They came down and did some field work and site work and did an analysis of this particular structure.”
The results of that sound study were reported at a planning board meeting.
“The conclusion of that study was that this particular structure will not exceed the town’s noise standards at the boundaries of our property,” Mead said.
The renewable energy the turbine will produce is not just for the benefit of the environment, but also the health of town residents, Lachance said.
“Whether people believe in climate change or not, I think most people believe in asthma,” she said. “Coal-burning plants put so many things in the air that are known to cause asthma attacks.”
Another appeal of the project is the financial advantage that renewable energy provides.
“You get the added benefit that eventually this thing will pay for itself,” Lachance said. “There is really an opportunity to make a change where you actually get your money back. You put new shingles on your roof, your shingles never pay you back.”
“Technically you could sell the energy to CMP,” he said. “We will use it to offset the current budget.”
The Efficiency Maine grant will pay 80 percent of construction costs and Kennebunkport will pay 20 percent. The project will go to bid in December. Mead is hopeful construction will start this winter.
“It will be up and running by the beginning of summer next year,” Mead said.
The wind turbine will be the third in Kennebunkport. There currently is a wind turbine on Walker’s Point and on Whitten Hill Road.
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