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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Baldacci Plans Wind Turbine for State Capitol

Copyright © 2007 Blethin Maine Newspapers Inc.



An artist's conception of how the new wind turbine will look on top of the Maine State Capitol building.
Governor John Baldacci announced today an ambitous plan to place a 2 megawatt wind mill atop the state Capitol building in Augusta. Recent setbacks have stymied the installation of wind farms in Maine, and the Governor has vowed to "take charge" of the situation.

The Governor and Endlessly Energy, LLC were shocked when the Land Use Regulation Commission recently voted down the biggest project to be considered in Maine so far: a 30-turbine array proposed for Redington Pond Range near Sugarloaf. Commissioners said the site's proximity to the Appalachian Trail and the presence of endangered species made it a poor choice.

Another recent setback came when the zoning board of appeals in the town of Freedom rejected a small, three-turbine facility on Beaver Ridge, after determining the whirling blades would violate town noise ordinances. Being driven completely insane by a really loud never-ending PFFTT PFFTT PFFTT sound in their homes, Mars Hill residents came to Freedom and convinced the board to reject the plan.

Governor John Baldacci announcing the Capitol Wind Project from the State House lawn on Sunday.
They Call Me "The Breeze"

While Gov. Baldacci's administration has set a goal of generating 10 percent of Maine's energy needs from renewable sources by 2017, it has not pushed for the clear, consistent siting standards that would provide developers guidance when proposing these projects.

The Governor noted that this project would not need approval by anyone but him. Maine law gives the Governor "sole discretion over modifications to Capitol buildings and grounds." His legal advisors see nothing to prevent him from installing the wind tower. "This will be great for the people of Maine, and demonstrate the state's committment to renewable energy," he said Sunday from a press conferfence on the State House grounds.

Endlessly Energy, LLC specializes in creating computer simulations of wind farms like this one of the Redington Wind Farm that amazingly make the windmills look nearly invivsible.
(Click for larger view)
Endlessly Energy, LLC has worked tirelessly to place hundreds of huge windmills all over the highest, windiest, and most scenic spots in Maine. Their computerized conceptions of how the wind farms will visually impact remote mountain ranges crank up the 'squint' and 'fog' controls in PhotoShop, showing only tiny, almost transparent wind turbines.

Mars Hill residents say that town officials and company representatives repeatedly assured them that the wind farm would be silent, and that they would barely be able to see it.

The company obfuscates in selling the projects acoustically as well. In Mars Hill, 18 families who live near the wind farm are asking the state Department of Environmental Protection to restore their peace and quiet. Regional director Arch Nicker said the department has received 10 noise complaints that will be filed in "the round cabinet."

A preliminary study of the Mars Hill wind farm suggested that it had potential to exceed the noise limits in a handful of locations. But state environmental officials decided that the excess noise would have no “unreasonable adverse effect,” and said the project could go ahead.

Residents report that the wind turbines are so loud they keep them awake at night, and fear that the towers have destroyed not only their solitude but the value of their properties.

Hiram Bloughard of Endlessly Energy, LLC spoke at the Statehouse press conference. He thinks the the Capitol Project will jump start wind turbine placement in Maine. "It's time for all these NIMBY's to quit whining and get with the program. It's important that we create all this extra energy so we can waste it. That's the American Way!," he said.

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Copyright © Blethin Maine Newspapers Inc.