TEMPLE – Representatives of a global renewable energy company will hold an information session Monday to discuss a possible wind farm on land owned by two property owners in town.
Temple has a wind energy systems ordinance that effectively prohibits the development of industrial-scale wind projects, but the ordinance could be amended or overturned with another town vote.
The informational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Town Office, on Temple Road.
Selectwoman Jean Mitchell said Friday that the company, Renewable Energy Systems, told selectmen in December it was considering a wind development, but did not provide any details about the project.
“As selectmen we felt we had the duty to put this information out to the citizens of the town,” she said.
The meeting is only an information session, Mitchell emphasized. RES has not submitted any application to the planning board and not vote will be taken at the session, she added.
“Some people are really passionate about this, so we anticipate there will be a lot of questions,” Mitchell said. A citizens’ petition to change the ordinance is required to put the issue to voters at town meeting, she added.
A phone message left at the Washington D.C. headquarters of RES was not returned Friday. According to its website, the company’s Americas wing has been in business since 1997 and has constructed more than 80 projects and 600 miles of overhead and transmission lines. The company has offices in Minnesota and Texas, as well as Canada and Chile. It also has a presence in Europe, Japan, South Africa and Turkey, according to its website.
Voters in 2012 passed an ordinance to regulate wind energy systems in Temple that prevents the construction of large, utility-scale projects. Residents authorized a moratorium on wind projects in 2011 while a town committee developed the ordinance.
The town rules limit wind tower height to 140 feet from the ground to the tip of the highest turbine and allows no more than 50 kilowatts of energy production per lot.
Utility-scale wind turbines are significantly larger than what is allowed under Temple’s ordinance. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wind farms in Roxbury Notch, north of Rumford, have turbines that are more than 400 feet tall and generate 2.3 megawatts of power.
Steve Kaiser, a member of the committee that drafted the ordinance, said Friday that it had strong support within the community.
“It accommodates small-scale wind energy systems, but has limits on height and energy outputs, it rules out industrial wind,” Kaiser said.
“We felt it would be a nice fit for Temple,” he added. “I think the committee that worked on it was aiming to find a nice balance.”
Kaiser said he thinks RES is testing the waters to see if the town may now be receptive to a commercial wind farm.
“It’s all theoretical, if they pose that the response might be ‘no thank you very much,’ or they might decide to challenge the town’s ordinance,” he said.
“They are looking to find out how the town feels about these things,” Kaiser added.
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