EASTBROOK – In addition to helping pick the state’s next governor and congressman and the county’s next district attorney, voters here will be asked to weigh in on a more towering local issue.
Specifically, they will be asked if they want to amend the town’s wind ordinance to allow for taller wind turbines. Doing so would allow Boston-based First Wind, which is considering a 30-turbine project called Weaver Wind that would be located in Eastbrook and next-door Osborn, to use newer, bigger turbines.
Eastbrook’s wind ordinance currently caps the height of any wind turbine in town at 500 feet. The change would allow for turbines up to 600 feet tall.
There are no commercial wind turbines in Eastbrook at present, though 19 are located just to the east at First Wind’s Bull Hill project in Township 16. The developer also has received approval for a second project, known as Hancock Wind, to go up in Township 16 and adjacent Township 22.
The turbines at Bull Hill are 476 feet tall, from the base of the turbine to the tip of the highest blade. First Wind had originally eyed using turbines either 492 feet or 512 feet tall at the Hancock Wind project, but recently sought permission from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to be able to use turbines that are 574 feet tall.
Eastbrook’s current ordinance, with the 500-foot cap, would prohibit First Wind from using that same type of taller turbine if the company goes ahead with its Weaver Wind project in the town.
First Wind, under the name Weaver Wind LLC, received permission over the past year from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry to place meteorological towers and SODAR – SOnic Detection And Ranging – units in Osborn to collect wind and weather data.
Previously, Dave Fowler – First Wind’s director of development for the New England region – said the “lion’s share” of turbines in the Weaver Wind project would be in Osborn. He said those turbines would generally be located between Moose Hill on Route 179 and the western side of Spectacle Pond.
Weaver Ridge, from which the project takes its name, runs through that section of Osborn.
First Wind first looked at Eastbrook in 2010, but zoning in place at the time barred turbines from going in. Changes were later made to allow turbines in certain parts of town, and Fowler said those changes essentially “mandated” that any turbines be built in the northern part of town. That would work well with the Weaver Wind project, Fowler said.
“We can go there and not ask for any variances,” he said in a previous interview.
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