PLEASANT RIDGE PLANTATION – When resident Retta Giguere stood up to speak at Thursday night’s public hearing, she held a list of questions about a commercial wind project developer’s plan to string transmission lines through part of her town.
The first question on her list, about what appeared to be different information filed in applications to the town and state, became the dominant topic of conversation and ultimately stalled a vote on whether to grant a permit for the developer to cross transmission wires over the town’s roads.
The incongruity, which the town’s lawyer will review, would put the transmission lines closer to residents’ homes than they previously thought.
The developer, Independence Wind, which operates Highland Wind LLC, intends to install 39 wind turbines in neighboring Highland Plantation. No turbines are planned for Pleasant Ridge Plantation, but transmission lines are. The lines would pass once over Cross Road and Pleasant Ridge Road and twice over Rowe Pond Road.
Former Gov. Angus King and former Maine Public Broadcasting Corp. president Rob Gardiner lead Independence Wind.
In the permit application filed with the town, it appears the wires are described as passing alongside existing Central Maine Power Co. utility wires. But in the application filed with the Land Use Regulation Commission, it’s clear the wires deviate from the CMP lines.
Erik Stumpfel, an attorney for Highland Wind from the firm Eaton Peabody, confirmed the lines would not follow the CMP corridor exactly: “It’s not completely abutting the CMP right of way in that exact spot” near Rowe Pond Road, he said.
“That certainly puts it closer to my house,” resident Clark Sherman said.
If townspeople had known, “You would have had more objections,” Giguere told First Assessor Robert Bowden.
Bowden agreed the application to the town was “very unclear.” Assessors are elected officials in plantations, similar to town selectmen.
“There are families down there with children,” Giguere said, adding she is worried about the impact of electromagnetic fields on people’s health.
Stumpfel said the National Institutes of Health report “no proven connection” between disease and transmission lines.
Support structures for the wires would be on private land, for which Highland Wind has easements. Pleasant Ridge assessors must decide whether to award a permit to string wires over roads. Without the permit, it’s unlikely the state would approve the project application.
The public hearing will resume at 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Town Office.