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Selected Editorials from the Editor

Suns & Shields Christian Inspirational Writings by Rachelle Hamlin

Selected editorials from Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.


The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


Commercial Wind Power Was Main Topic of Discussion at Fort Fairfield Town Council Meeting


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, September 3, 2014


   The Fort Fairfield town council recently entertained public discussion on the proposed commercial wind turbine project planned in Fort Fairfield.  The plan by Shamrock, LLC calls for up to 120 of the 400 to 600 foot tall wind turbines. 

   Rick Shepherd spoke on behalf of a citizens' group concerned about the implications of allowing the implementation of said wind turbines without adequate zoning, planning or ordinances to safeguard the rights of the affected landowners and the community at large.

  “It is the most expensive type of electricity that you can generate.  It's more expensive than fossil fuel, hydro, biomass, nuclear or solar,” said Shepherd.   “In Mars Hill they were told their taxes would go down.  Well, I haven't lived there for a few years but I do have some clients there.  They tell me their taxes have gone up every year since.  That project was thrust upon them without a lot of public input.”

   Shepherd says the need for proper management is one reason an adequate commercial wind power ordinance is needed in Fort Fairfield.  “Don't let the wind developers control the process and the parameters.  Their priority is not Maine and Fort Fairfield.  Their priority has got to be their bottom line.  We need a way to protect ourselves from that, and the citizens' rights.  State regulations are not designed for windmill projects the type they're planning in Fort Fairfield.   They're a little bit inadequate.  Town zoning regulations are probably inadequate because they don't address the problems of wind power.  The State has guidelines and that's a basis on where to start.  A fair and comprehensive ordinance will set the guidelines that we need and the planning board needs to go by to see that these projects meet the criteria that we expect.” 

   The wind project would be funded by an increase to the electric rates of Maine rate payers, rather than tax incentives or grant moneys.   “This is a Community Renewable Energy Project, CREP, and rather than being supported by tax funds, grants and so forth - as some of them are - this is supported by rate payers in the mix,” explained town council member, John Herold, who has studied the proposal.  “Our mix is some hydropower, some coal, some natural gas and some wind power.  It all gets factored into the mix of what electricity is circulated within this area.  The idea behind this is that the rate payers themselves, us, will support the additional cost associated with the wind power exercise.” 

   The proposed increase would be 0.12 cents per kilowatt-hour [editor:  that's $0.0012].  “This is a fixed contract for a number of years, it doesn't raise up next year if things get more expensive so we could end up being on the good end of this if electricity in general ends up being more expensive later on, a few years down the road because wind power will still be at the same rate,” said Herold.  “I figured out that my electric expenditure for my house, I totaled up my kilowatt-hours, would be somewhere less than $20.00 per year (with the proposed rate increase for wind power).”

   Shepherd also mentioned issues such as flicker noise where the wind turbine blades create a strobe-light effect at certain times of the day depending on the position of the sun in relation to the turbine, as well as low frequency noise and potential safety issues with lightening, grounding and the shedding of ice build-up on the blades during the winter season.  He also noted that there would be a loss of recreational use of the land around the wind turbine areas and a likelihood of interference with wireless internet service providers as well as cell towers if a turbine ends up in the line of sight of the transmitting tower and a receiving antenna or cell phone.

   There were also some concerns voiced regarding how the blasting of ledge to anchor the massive towers would affect water wells in the area.  “We need to be concerned about ground water impact.  It should be assessed by an independent engineer with the hydro impacts on aquifers in proximity to the turbines.”

   Shepherd also elucidated all of the things that can go wrong with wind turbines such as the blades breaking off and being thrown up to 1600 feet, oil leaks and ice chunks being thrown off the blades during the winter.

  “Franklin Roosevelt said the only thing you have to fear is fear itself.  [Mr. Shepherd] got up and gave us lots of facts.  They're not proven, said John Durepo, who has farmed in Fort Fairfield for 50 years.  “You must be afraid to drive your car or fly in a plane because they're not very safe.  You can come up with a lot of facts to scare everybody near to death.  I'd like to have the town council look at this issue and see where they're going to go with it because we don't have a lot of industry here.  There isn't a lot of industry going to come in here that I can see right off quick.  Now this might be one small piece that we can use for some tax money.”  

   Durepo also noted how commercial wind farms are actively being used in other parts of the U.S. and the world.  “The only thing I do know is around the world and the United States we have a lot of wind farms. Texas has a lot of wind farms.  California has had them for years.  You go to Denmark, they generate somewhere around 80 to 85 percent of their electricity from wind; it's cheaper than oil.  They can't afford to buy the oil.  Just stop and look at it first.”

   “This is going to be one of the largest wind farms in the world, in the top ten, in the top five wind farms in the United States,” said Todd Christensen.  “One hundred twenty wind turbines within the confines of one municipality is nearly unheard of.  It will transform the fabric and nature of this town for forty-plus years.  This isn't about something that you can get away from.  No one can escape the impact of these industrial machines anywhere in this town.  They won't be on a ridge line some far off in the distance, they won't be a gravel pit that you can choose if you want live here or not.    This will be everywhere, this is huge, it is not six turbines in the corner of the town somewhere.” 

   The general consensus of the audience in attendance at the town council meeting where this wind turbine issue was recently discussed was that they wished for the town council to enact a moratorium in order to delay the process until more research on the proposed turbines can be obtained and an ordinance written that would govern the installation and operation of the turbines in a manner which would be agreeable to all those affected.

   “I, myself can see the concern that is involved in this,” said town council member, Bob Kilcollins.  “A moratorium could be applied for a period of 120 to 160 days at least it would give the people some encouragement and time to form a committee to go over different regulations that can be reviewed by the town council, the committee to really look and make both sides economically work.”

   John Herold offered a motion to allow town officials to draft language for a 180 day moratorium on the wind turbine project and to establish a technical review committee made up of town council members, citizens-at-large, Quality of Place members, staff, and such other technical personnel  that would seem to be necessary. The moratorium and the technical review committee will be presented for discussion to the council at their September town council meeting.  There are currently no plans to commence any construction on the project between now and then and there is a lengthy permitting process that would have to be undertaken even after the council and community have drafted and adopted a satisfactory ordinance regulating commercial wind turbines in Fort Fairfield.

   The moratorium will be of a six month duration, which is the maximum length allowed by law, at which point it can be renewed for another six months if the town council is not successful at enacting an adequate wind power ordinance.  “That gives us six months to be an intelligent community, to take everybody into consideration - not everybody is going to end up happy - but to do the best we can in six months,” said David McCrea, chair of the Fort Fairfield town council.  “We've got a bunch of intelligent people and we will make the best ordinance that we know how.  If we haven't had enough time, we'll get more time.”

  A complete audio recording of the town council meeting and wind discussion can be accessed online click here for the MP3 audio file.







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