PERU – The Wind Ordinance Committee is nearly finished writing regulations for wind power projects in town, members said at Tuesday night’s meeting.
A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is set for Sept. 10. Based on public comments then, a final version will be developed and a public informational meeting held before a November vote.
EDP Renewables North America, LLC, of Houston, Texas, is considering building 25 to 35 turbines here, a representative told the committee earlier this year. The company received a permit in October 2011 to place a meteorological test tower off Black Mountain Road near the Sumner town line.
Committee Chairman Jim Pulsifer stressed that the ordinance needed to be reasonable. When members seemed inclined to require that all electrical lines associated with an industrial wind energy facility be buried, he pointed out that it would be prohibitively expensive to blast through ledge all of the way to the connection with the power grid.
“If we are not going to be reasonable, we might just need a one line ordinance that says, ‘There will be no industrial wind facilities in Peru,'” Pulsifer said in jest.
The committee agreed and adopted wording that only required wiring to meet the Maine Electrical Code.
Members mentioned that if the town does not have an ordinance, the Department of Environmental Protection guidelines will regulate wind development in Peru.
A major difference between the draft ordinance and DEP rules is that under DEP guidelines there are no provisions for handling residents’ complaints. Pulsifer said the draft ordinance provides for the code enforcement officer to follow through on complaints. Also, the town can hire experts at the facility operator’s expense if they need technical help in investigating complaints.
Committee member Rick Childs objected to the requirement that the facility operator keep gates to the property locked.
“I don’t want to let the operator use the ordinance as the reason he blocks public access and recreational use,” he said.
The committee agreed with Childs, who pointed out that safety provisions in the ordinance will require limiting access to hazardous areas.
Roxbury resident Cathy Mattson, who attends the committee meetings to help Peru avoid problems she perceives with wind power development in her town, attended Tuesday’s meeting. She suggested the committee change the section on decommissioning and site restoration to require that disturbed areas be revegetated in accordance with the latest DEP protocols. She said the existing requirement to “reseed” could mean to scatter some seeds and walk away, while the DEP protocols required that adequate vegetation be established.
The committee adopted her suggestion.
Committee member Warren Oldham objected to the selectmen having chosen an attorney to review the proposed ordinance.
Pulsifer reminded the committee that they had not responded to his request for suggestions.
While Oldham accused the selectmen of being “crooked” and the Sun Journal of not reporting what actually goes on at selectmen’s meetings, he did not cite any specifics to support his charges. He said he would let the newspaper know when he was ready to go public with his accusations.