PERU – The town Wind Ordinance Committee learned about balancing the good with the bad on wind energy developments at Wednesday night’s meeting.
Dylan Voorhees, clean energy project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, presented information and the organization’s stance on wind farms in Maine to the committee.
NRCM in Augusta is a nonprofit organization that strives to protect, restore and conserve Maine’s environment.
Voorhees said one of the organization’s big goals is to limit the use of fossil fuels being used for electricity.
He said a 2010 study showed approximately 37 percent of Maine’s electricity comes from natural gas which is pumped in from out of state. He also said that hydro-power, which fluctuates considerably, varies anywhere from 10 to 20 percent.
“We are sending money out of state every time we fill up our tanks with gas and every time we flip on the light switch,” he said.
Finding new sources of renewable electricity is an important part of the long-term goal of the organization, Voorhees said.
“Wind power is a significant part of the solution but not the only thing,” he said. “We need to make sure it is done well and done right. It’s a balancing act.”
Committee member Warren MacFawn asked Voorhees how many wind projects his organization would like to see in the state.
Voorhees said his group was supportive of the state’s wind task force goal of 2,000 megawatts worth of projects in Maine by 2015. He said his group has supported some projects and been against others.
One of the projects the group did not support was the Kibby II project near the Chain of Ponds and Kibby Township. Voorhees said there were various reasons the group did not back the project, but one of the major factors was the scenic impact.
Kevin Benedict of Peru questioned protecting the pristine area that he has grown to love since moving to Maine and how the state and organization works to protect the scenic views.
Voorhees mentioned state laws through the Department of Environmental Protection help safeguard scenic and recreational resources. However, a list already exists that legally defines what areas in Maine, such as the Appalachian Trail, are to be protected through that law, Voorhees said.
Voorhees advised the committee to look into what resources, not present on the list, that the town wants to protect when creating the ordinance.
He also urged the committee to look toward other towns that have created good ordinances to protect and benefit the residents, including Oakfield, which is in the permitting process with First Wind to create a 120-megawatt facility.
The committee also discussed with Voorhees aspects of tangible benefits. Benedict mentioned having a wind project be required to purchase or create a conservation area or land trust to help lessen the scenic and recreational impact on a town.
Voorhees said that was one of the best options that his organization would love to see.
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