FARMINGTON – The planning board and a handful of residents heard a few more details on a proposal to install four, 293-foot tall wind turbines off Davis Road near the Bailey Hill Road intersection.
Brian Kuhn, a principal of Associated Wind Developers from Plymouth, Mass., which develops wind power projects and Aeronautica Windpower, which manufactures 750 kilowatt, “queen-sized” or smaller turbines for more populated areas, described the project in Farmington at its infancy.
“We’re in the concept and design stage to see what the appetite of the town is,” he said.
A 50-foot tall meteorological tower was installed two weeks ago and will continue to measure the wind speed for another two months. If there’s enough wind to warrant a project, the company will seek permitting to built the towers.
If a site permit is approved this fall or winter, Kuhn said construction could start next spring and be up and running by next fall. A wind power ordinance draft has not been adopted by Farmington voters yet. As things stand now, planners would be deciding site review issues only.
The four turbines, manufactured in New Hampshire, are proposed to be situated off Davis Road in a west to southwest pattern along the edges of Konrad Bailey’s hay fields of a 240-acre parcel total. Kuhn said its a quarter mile to the nearest residence, “well outside the issue range of nuisance noise.”
The wind turbines would be owned, financed and insured by a private company and the land each turbine sits on would be leased by landowner Bailey, as is any cell tower. Kuhn called it a “community wind project” and expects to offer the power generated for sale to schools, towns and or possibly Central Maine Power.
He termed the turbines as smaller in size and appropriate for the location.
“You don’t have great wind so it requires smaller turbines,” he said. He said the power generated could be potentially “producing more energy the town of Farmington uses.” No new utility lines will be needed, the site sits next to a mid-sized transmission line, Bailey said afterward. A gravel road for turbine construction will need to be built. An up-turned light is required for airplanes at the top of each tower.
Planning board member Tom Eastler questioned the wind speed possibilities for such a project, based on his recordings from a met tower perched on Mosher Hill. He also noted that any noise factor, preferring to use “sound pressure” as the quantitative term, is “all in the ears of the beholder,” Eastler said. Kuhn said decibel levels will be measured at the property’s boundries.
“If you stand under the machine, you hear a ‘whoosh, whoosh.’ If you walk a tower’s distance, it’s hard to hear. If you walk two towers’ distance, it’s very hard to hear it,” Kuhn said.
In response to a question by planning board member Bill Marceau, Kuhn described his four-year-old company as being “well funded.” He said the high cost of manufacturing the turbines in the U.S. is offset by relatively low shipping costs other company’s pay to have turbine parts sent here for installation from Europe. He added they will be relying on alternative energy tax credit for this project.
Brian Demshar, a resident of nearby Osborne Road, said he has concerns about the view he’ll have from his house if four turbines are built.
“It’s a very pretty view of farms and hills. The house points directly at that hill,” Demshar said and questioned where the energy generated would go and what may happen to his property value if four turbines come into view.
Kuhn said research has shown that there is no change in property values after wind turbines become part of the view.
After the meeting, Kuhn said his company is currently evaluating 42 potential wind power sites on the east coast for up to four turbines at each site. As to becoming involved at the Farmington site, one of Kuhn’s partners was visiting a relative on Bailey Hill Road and proposed looking into the possibility of turbines here.
Konrad Bailey said afterward the project will have “minimal impact” on the neighborhood, his farm’s production and could be something good for generations to come. And there’s plenty of wind, he said.
“The wind blows like crazy up there,” Bailey said.
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