CLIFTON, Maine – It’s been five months since a wind farm opened on Pisgah Mountain following seven years of planning, several lawsuits, at least seven townwide votes and fear over noise and bird fatalities.
But since the turbines went online on Dec. 17., no one has complained.
“There has not been one complaint. Not one loud noise complaint, and not one bird kill,” said developer Paul Fuller. Debbie Hodgins, administrative assistant at the Town Office confirmed that no one has filed a complaint against Pisgah Mountain since it started operations.
To prove that the five Vestas V90-1.8 megawatt wind turbines aren’t loud – and to show off the completed project – developers are holding an open house on the top of the mountain on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m.
“This will give them an opportunity to hear them from up there,” said Fuller, one of six local investors who own 51 percent of the company.
One of the loudest opponents of the project, Paula Kelso, a former planner who was a voice for the Clifton Task Force on Wind, said Thursday that she will not attend the open house.
“See no, hear no, speak no evil,” she said.
Neighboring Rebel Hill Farm owners Julie and Peter Beckford, who led the opposition against the wind farm – filing lawsuit after lawsuit in a failed effort to block the wind mills – have since moved, Kelso said. A message left with the Beckfords for comment was not immediately returned.
Residents supported the wind farm project with every vote over the years.
Carol Jordan, chairwoman of the town selectmen, and Eric Johns, chairman of the planning board, are planning to speak at the open house. Others include Cianbro President and CEO Peter Vigue, and the CEO of Austrian developer WEB Windenergie, which operates 203 wind power plants and became an investor in March 2016 through SWEB Development, a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based subsidiary.
Residents at the annual town meeting in March approved tax increment financing for the wind farm and then voted to use $80,000 of the money to fix roads, $23,000 to update the Clifton Comprehensive Plan and another $31,100 for administrative costs, to create and maintain the TIF.
They also agreed to a 20-year community benefit contract with Pisgah Mountain LLC that has an annual $45,000 payment “to go into the general fund to help defray taxes,” according to the text of the town resolution.
Clifton is expected to get an estimated $200,000 to $250,000 in annual property taxes, but that amount will not be known until June, Hodgins, said Thursday.
The Clifton Planning Board unanimously approved the $25 million wind farm in October 2011, but it was appealed by the Beckfords, who ultimately lost the battle in 2015 when a supreme court judge threw out the case, saying they missed a filing deadline.
“We’re doing great,” Fuller said. “We know we are ahead of the game and are making electricity for 4,000 to 5,000 homes.”
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