Franklin Countys First News

Wind power project moving forward in Carthage

A simulated view of the Saddleback Ridge Wind project, from 3.4 miles away, produced by the developer.

CARTHAGE - A  wind power project is quietly moving forward on Saddleback Mountain in southern Franklin County, with the developer hoping to begin initial infrastructure improvements as early as this fall.

The project would situate 12 or 13 turbines along the mountain's ridge on 1,000 acres of privately-owned land. The developer, Patriot Renewables LLC out of Quincy, MA, is also looking into leasing 320 acres of town-owned property at the summit of Saddleback Mountain to install another four or five turbines there.

The mountain, which is listed as 2,572 feet in elevation at the peak, should not be confused with the larger Saddleback Mountain in northern Franklin County. The ridge of Carthage's Saddleback runs nearly perpendicular to the path of prevailing winds, and Patriot Renewables' Project Manager Andy Novey believes that the conditions are perfect for the proposed 34.5 megawatt wind farm.

"Wind resources in Maine are a matter of elevation," he said, "and this site is almost perfect. It's positioned well and a lot of the roads and transmission lines are already in place."

This map, provided by Patriot Renewables, shows the potential positions of up to 19 turbines on Saddleback Mountain.

An access road would be constructed off of Winter Hill Road, and transmission lines would be strung to bring generated power down the Route 2 corridor.

The company is a subsidiary of Jay Cashman Inc., a civil and marine construction firm with offices along the east coast, and constructed and currently operating a 3-turbine project in Freedom on Beaver Ridge, although that project had been developed by a different company. In addition to the Carthage project, Patriot Renewables is developing a "nine to 11 turbine" project in Woodstock and has conducted wind studies elsewhere in the state.

According to Novey, the company installed a meteorological tower on Saddleback Mountain in November 2008, after acquiring options to purchase privately-owned property along the ridge. Permits will likely be filed with the Department of Environmental Protection in March, as the company continues to work with Carthage's board of selectmen to secure a lease for the 320 acres of land at the summit.

That area has been held in conservation by the town since 2001. That Patriot Renewables is providing 800 acres to the west of the project to be held in conservation in exchange for Carthage allowing development on the summit. Novey said the company would also provide easements allowing access through the project for the town.

The impact of the project could be significant for Carthage. Selectman Stephen Brown estimated the town's current valuation at a little less than $27.3 million, and the Saddleback Mountain project would double that. Brown noted that the increase wouldn't have an enormous impact on the tax commitment as Carthage, which currently has the lowest valuation to population ratio in Franklin County, pays most of its taxes to the local school district, Regional School District 10, and to the county.

"It's not as great an impact as it would be in a wealthier community," Brown said. "We'll be paying more of our fair share to the schools and the county."

Still, the project has other potential benefits. If four or five turbines were situated on town land, Carthage could receive royalties for those turbines. Brown noted that different proposals for that money had been brought forward by residents, including setting up an education fund for Carthage students. The project is also expected to bring in three or four jobs, which is not insignificant in a town of 530.

There are potential disadvantages as well. Wind power turbines of this size approach 400 feet in height, including the blades, and generate some sound. Brown said that some residents had expressed concerns with the visual impact.

The town of Carthage has no comprehensive plan, after residents voted it down at town meeting. From the town's point of view, the privately-owned land portion of the project can proceed without any further votes or action from the selectmen. The public-owned portion would require some sort of lease agreement, which Brown said would be brought before residents at town meeting for their consideration.

Novey said that ideally the company was looking to start road construction work in the late fall, with turbines going up in the summer of 2011 and beginning operation later that year.

"Who would have ever thought a little town like Carthage would have an industrial base," Brown said, "and a clean energy one at that."

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13 Responses »

  1. Surprise! Yes, Carthage is well on its way to allowing 19 400 foot wind turbines along Saddleback Ridge and Saddleback Wind Mtn. No mention of the incredible impact this will have on those who have loved and recreated and hunted in this area for generations. No mention of the 19 red blinking lights that will punctuate a normally black and starry sky. No mention of the blasting and clear cutting that will take place and what that will do to what is pristine wilderness. No mention of big question marks like impacts to the health of those in the area or to wildlife.

    Anyone can understand the desire for Carthage to gain financially. But at what actual cost? When you drive down Route 2, you will face one industrial wind project after another. All because the governor pushed an emergency (what was the emergency exactly?) law through. He wants to preserve western Maine's tranquility and tourism potential so he opposes the low-flight modification but the industrialization of western Maine is OK? And for what? "Green energy"? This is not clean and it is not green.

    I know not everyone will agree with me. I just encourage you to do your homework and consider the reality that the fast-tracking of wind energy in this state is a scam. Make sure your own town has a sound ordinance in place. Wilton has a draft wind ordinance that I strongly encourage you to look at if you are a resident before it goes to a vote in a few months. As someone I know says, "Wind turbines. Coming to a ridgeline near you."

  2. I live not far from this site and I do a fair amount of hunting on Saddleback. I am opposed to this plan for multiple reasons. 1. this project will raise the value of the town and the company will not be paying for the tax increase. So the people in Carthage with high property tax guess what its going higher. 2. The company has no plans on letting people use there land. 3. The company does not care about the lynx population that lives on and around that ridge. This fall while deer hunting I found lynx scat where they plan on putting a turbine (dot #5 on the map above). Also I have found lynx tracks coming from and going to the ridge. And other locals have seen lynx in the general area.

  3. Trapper, Patriot Renewables doesn't care, but MDIFW has to. If you have not contacted Chuck Hulsey at the Strong office: 778-3324 *and* the endangered species office in Bangor: 941-4466, then please do so. Anyone in that area who is out trapping or hunting should be carrying a camera in case they come across what they believe is lynx sign and then report it to those offices *immediately*.

    Don't be discouraged by the wind company. They are out to make a buck and don't care at all about this area. Their money isn't their own, it is from the federal government (i.e.: all of us). If you want more info, please let me know.

  4. As this project gets closer and closer to reality, many people in Carthage are posing some very good questions.
    Will I lose access to land that has always been open for recreational use ? How much influence will this influx of money have on my town ? Carthage has always been appealing because of their citizen's unified stance against government intervention on their quality of life. Many towns in Maine once embraced this same remarkable set of values; the right to our individual freedoms and responsibilities.
    But, money is alluring and powerful. A pot of gold glitters and beckons for great distances. Money opens the path for many new ideas. As a town acquires increased wealth, the use of this wealth, and, of course, hand in hand, with this comes the arguments on how to use this wealth, has proven to change the character of many a community. Carthage will draw new blood to town as this new wealth will attract many, surmising ways to spend it.
    The doors to progress will soon open in Carthage and this strong, quiet, independent town will undergo changes. The influence of government action isn't far away. For government, after all, is nothing but a collection of people determined to control your way of life under the guise of progress. and it's the money that initiates it.

  5. I urge hunters, trappers, snowshoers, bushwhackers - anyone who frequents the woods and mountains to go armed with a camera. This is not to say I want no one hunting or trapping! I am saying that if we are going to protect the wildlife in our area we are going to have to be able to prove (by photographs, ideally, but perhaps the testimony of two witnesses who corroborate each other's testimony will hold water, too) that there is real evidence of protected or endangered wildlife in an area targeted for wind power development. When we were fighting to protect Redington and Black Nubble mountains we were told by at least a half dozen people who knew the woods and mountains intimately that they or friends had seen protected or endangered eagles. We urged them to keep a camera with them and to urge their friends who also frequented the area to do the same. Unfortunately no one ever followed through. So, please, if you love the mountains that are threatened by windpower, take your camera, or buy one of the throw-away ones, and photograph the signs of lynx and other significant wildlife. Professional or state biologists can't be everywhere, so your testimony really can be "expert", on the ground, evidence that an area is critical habitat.

  6. Lisa thank you for the info. Since mid November I was looking on line for the proper people to talk to. All I ever found was the "Anti" groups (I wouldn't inform them on princible). Thank you again If anyone wants to go out looking for themselves just go on the Winter Hill Road and go into the woods to the left.

  7. I think that wind power is a valuable resource and it makes sense to use this environmentally friendly resource. It worries me that this could kill little animals and I also find it wrong that they are going ahead with it even though the people said no at the town meeting.

  8. I think that this project is an excellent idea. Wind power is renewable, clean, and a positive step towards cutting our desperation for fossil fuels, and it allows us to expand our ways of making energy. This project not only is a "greener" way of life, but it will also increase Carthage's town value by a good amount and open up multiple jobs for the citizens of the town. I am thumbs up for this!

  9. I think this is a great idea because there is no reason that we shouldn't try and use a natural resource such as wind in a place where it is so abundant. The town of carthage is not heavily populated so it shouldn't interfere with everyday life to much. The town will be able to see the turbines but after a while they won't even realize they are there. I vote that this is a good idea and should be done as soon as possible. This project should be a type of test subject and if goes well we should start a larger scale one in a different location.

  10. This is a great project that would bring jobs to a small town, which is a big help for a lot of people there. It is far enough out of the towns way to not really bother many people and that is also a plus. On the down side comes everything bad that people always talk about with wind turbines like birds being killed and it ruining the view of the land. It is also strange that they are going through with the idea even though the people of the town voted against it. But I believe it is a good idea on the whole, and it will benefit the town in the long run.

  11. Personally, this project appears to be beneficial for the town of Carthage. The location is definitely ideal since the mountainous terrain has the capability of maintaining constant wind flow. Though the town voted against the plan, I believe wind energy would have a positive impact on this community in the near future. Furthermore, if the turbines are a success, this plan would lead the way for additional wind power in Maine.

  12. I think that this project is a great idea. It will provide more jobs to a town with a very small population. It also has a great location. Since it is set off the road the appearance and sound issues should not be a problem. Bringing alternative energy sources to Maine would be a positive thing. We need to start considering a more "green" source to help reduce green house gas emissions.

  13. Lake Webb and mount Blue park were the hidden jems of Maine. The overdevelopement on the west side road was bad enough but this eyesore will completely ruin the aria. Just think for a moment about how fast technology has chainged in only fourty years, no personal computers, internet ,cell phones ect. Only a hundred years ago The state was rich with mills and factories. if you told the people at that time that someday those thriving industries would end up abandoned with the windows smashed out they would not listen. These windmills will be the same way as energy technology changes. They will be rusted out spray painted with graffite and abandoned and no one will take them down. These wind companies are located in Massachusettes. They target poor rural and uneducated arias.