HOLLAND – The Holland Select Board held a special meeting Tuesday evening for a question and answer session with Derby Line wind project developer Chad Farrell of Encore Redevelopment.
Residents seemed to hold nothing back when expressing their concerns over the project.
Farrell remained diplomatic while he attempted to provide thorough answers to all questions and concerns raised.
Farrell and project partners are working toward a Certificate of Public Good to construct two wind turbines, one 425 and one 450 feet tall, each on Grandview Farm and Smugglers Hill Farm just east of Derby Line and immediately south of the U.S.-Canadian border.
Concerns are over potential health effects on humans and animals, property values, noise, constant blinking lights, ice throw, and impacts on nearby water wells and drinking water quality.
Residents, including Ken Pine, want some guarantee in writing should some negative effects occur.
Farrell said Encore will build a project he is confident will have no problems. “We believe it’s not going to lower property values and cause health effects,” Farrell said.
“Will you put that in writing and sign it?” asked Dan Maple. Maple, well-versed in sound, questioned Farrell’s statements and how loud sound is at certain decibels. Farrell compared the sound the turbines could create to that of sound from a refrigerator or the sound of a dishwasher in another room.
A second sound study is complete and another study is nearly complete, he said. The additional study is to provide reassurance in light of all the concerns over sound. Farrell said that the project will not produce infra-sound. Some argued with that point.
Maple noted that Encore paid for the sound studies.
Farrell said there is no money available for independent studies.
Page Warthin said she leaves her home to get away from indoor noise, to go outside and enjoy quiet and sounds from nature, not to hear something like a refrigerator. She said she doesn’t think she will hear the turbines at her property but she is concerned for her neighbors, who are closer.
Sound from the turbines is expected to be 45 decibels on the host properties, with 30 decibels inside.
Farrell acknowledged serious problems among people living near other wind turbines sites; he said that the wrong turbines were constructed for the locations used.
“Is this just a test to see what happens?" asked Stacy Nicoletti. Nicoletti is also concerned that the project might not work right and be abandoned.
Farrell said a decommissioning fund is required.
Others stated that Farrell is trying to buy off the towns of Derby and Holland and residents will not benefit.
Maple asked Farrell how much Encore would profit from the projects. He wanted to know why Farrell was willing to come out and take such harsh criticisms.
Farrell would not give the amount but said it’s not as much as the towns and those leasing the land will receive.
Maple also explained electric billing and asked if rates would go up. Farrell said that rates could go up at first, but looking to the future, the project would provide a better rate than other sources that are expected to continually rise.
John Wagner said at first he didn’t have a problem with wind turbines until he began researching. Now he has grown “irate” over the project. He is very concerned about his property value, among other issues.
Mitch Wonson cited studies that show a decrease in property values, and Warthin said that values are based on what others are willing to pay, which could be far less with a view of the turbines.
Farrell questioned whether the study took into account the global recession, which caused property values to fall in many places. He also said that he knows many who are very thankful to have turbines in their communities.
John Wagner said he is going to have his property assessed before the project and after to see what happens.
Farrell is in discussions with the town on annual payments The $15,000 annual payment brought up for Holland would cover the town’s electric costs for the school and other buildings. Farrell said it could be more, but that depends on what the project can afford.
Farrell said he knows that the opponents came out to be heard, but that the town also has many supporters.
Warthin said that those who speak in favor of the turbines are friends of the host farmers and were asked to come out and speak at the public meetings, as well as other farmers who want a turbine of their own.
Farrell said that the turbines help struggling farmers diversify. He said that aviation lights will be on all the time, causing some complaints in the audience.
Some asked if the project can be built to utilize aircraft activated lights instead.
Gene Dickenson, a renewable energy educator, was among those present. She is concerned about how the project would affect her water well, especially if blasting occurs. Dickenson’s property abuts one of the farms that will host a wind turbine.
Farrell said he would talk to her and that Encore would conduct little or no blasting.