May 16, 2012

Peru prepares for hearing on wind power ordinance

Tom Standard, Special to the Sun Journal | 16 May 2012 |

PERU – The Wind Ordinance Committee worked Tuesday night to prepare for the upcoming public hearing on proposed wind power development regulations.

The hearing is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, in the former Peru Elementary School.

The committee will report on its progress in drafting an ordinance to govern wind power projects and seek input from the public.

EDP Renewables North America LLC of Houston, Texas, received a permit in October 2011 to place a meteorological test tower off Black Mountain Road near the Sumner town line. The company is considering building 25 to 35 turbines, a representative told the committee earlier this year.

A 180-day moratorium on wind power developments adopted last fall has expired.

Committee Chairman Bill Hine read an invitation from EDP Renewables North America to an open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, at the former school. Committee members agreed they should go as individuals, not as a committee.

Sumner resident Ingrid Erickson shared a flier distributed in Sumner prior to a town vote Wednesday, May 16, on the Sumner Industrial Wind Power Ordinance.

The committee discussed how the significant points in the flier had to be pointed out to residents at the public hearing.

Erickson said seasonal residents were returning to the area and expressing displeasure over the noise from wind turbines operating on Spruce Mountain. She said there is some discussion of withholding taxes unless the town revalues their camps, since they believe they will now be difficult or impossible to sell.

Committee member Warren Oldham reported that a Dixfield resident said he could not get an agent to list his house because of the prospective wind power facilities there.

Other members expressed concern that the town would face lawsuits demanding decreased valuations for homes adversely affected by wind power facilities, particularly around the ponds. Loss of property value would force the town to increase its tax rate.

Members kept coming back to the point that if the town does not have an ordinance, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection guidelines will control wind development in town.

Committee member Kevin Benedict pointed out that under DEP guidelines, there are no provisions for handling complaints from residents. They would have to deal with the developer directly and hire their own experts and lawyers.

Erickson said the Sumner ordinance requires town officials to investigate all complaints and requires the developer to pay for any needed experts retained by the town.

The committee has expressed interest in incorporating features of the Sumner ordinance.

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