PERU – The town’s Industrial Wind Ordinance Committee on Tuesday night considered an attorney’s comments on its draft regulations for wind power projects.
Attorney Sally J. Daggett of the firm of Jensen, Baird, Gardner and Henry in Portland advised that the town has authority to enact reasonable regulations on the location of such projects but does not have the authority to expressly or effectively prohibit their construction.
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.
The town passed a moratorium on wind power projects while it writes and adopts the Peru Industrial Wind Energy Facility Ordinance.
Committee Chairman Jim Pulsifer pointed out there were three pillars to the draft ordinance: sound levels, setback distances and turbine height.
Daggett questioned whether there was sound scientific evidence to support the values proposed for these three aspects.
The committee considered each one and the technical support they had for their decisions.
The draft ordinance required a two-mile setback from the wind turbine base to the nearest nonparticipating parcel of land.
Warren McFawn said that distance effectively prohibits the construction of wind farms in Peru. He drew two-mile-radius circles, centered on just a few likely turbine sites on a Peru map and showed that they covered populated areas.
The committee agreed to a 1½-mile setback, provided that a more accurate map showed that it would not effectively prohibit wind farms.
Kevin Benedict said the two-mile setback was not overly restrictive, because there is provision in the ordinance for property owners within the setback to give the developer a waiver.
Committee member Philip Bretz presented a technical report indicating that the permissible sound levels listed in the draft were too high for the rural town. The draft has a decibel limit of 40 for daytime and 35 for nighttime.
Bretz proposed and the committee adopted limits of 35 decibels for daytime and 25 for nighttime.
After considerable discussion, the committee retained the 300-foot height restriction for turbine towers. Several members said technology exists to comply with this height limit.
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