MOSCOW, Maine — A divided crowd of more than 125 packed into the gymnasium of Moscow Elementary School on Monday evening for a public meeting regarding the Bingham Wind Project.
The audience was roughly split among those who were in favor of the proposed 62-turbine project, and those who were against it.
Blue Sky West LLC and Blue Sky West II LLC, subsidiaries of First Wind Energy LLC, had an application approved by the Department of Environmental Protection in May for the Bingham Wind Project that will place 11 turbines in Bingham, 29 in Mayfield Township and 22 in Kingsbury Plantation. The towns of Moscow, Abbot and Parkman will have work related to the project, but no turbines.
The project is capable of generating up to 191 megawatts of power. It would be the largest in New England and would cost about $400 million.
Mark Bergeron, Maine DEP Division of Land Resource Regulation director, led the meeting, which was aimed at receiving community concerns and input, but not for answering many questions.
Project manager Erle Townsend, along with noise and scenic experts, attended the meeting and took notes.
Leo Hill of Bingham, a Maine Master Guide, said he was in favor of the project.
“The town is desperate for revenue,” said Hill, stating that Bingham would receive $300,000 per year from First Wind for the project. “It would be nice to have that revenue to keep the schools open. I think it would benefit the town and do a lot of good things.”
“Those benefits aside, things we would lose are irreplaceable,” said Margaret Edwards Flynn, who is against the project.
She said golden eagles, an endangered species, are at risk of getting caught in the turbine blades.
“No [amount of money] can bring them back,” she said.
The noise generated by the turbines has created issues with those living near them in Pennsylvania, she said, including loss of balance, dizziness and nausea.
“It’s like an airplane that never lands,” Alice Barnett said of the noise.
Others argued that Maine needs to embrace technology of the future.
“This is us moving into the 21st century,” said Jack Lord of Bingham. “All the kids are moving away because we won’t move forward.”
Jay Strickland of Bingham said something needs to be done to move beyond the necessity for oil.
“We need something to get off of oil,” he said.
Mike Bond of Winthrop, who said he had worked in the electricity and energy business for 30 years, warned that the project would have devastating effects on the area.
“This project, in my opinion, will ruin this community,” said Bond, adding that he worked with Al Gore on renewable energy. Because of the division of opinions, “you will hate each other.”
He said tourism in other areas where turbines have been introduced has dropped dramatically. Wildlife and game birds have also disappeared, he said.
“Birds can live with climate change, they can’t live with wind turbines that chop and cut [them],” Bond said.
Some argued that the turbines would lower property values, while others said the tax revenue from the project would help struggling towns.
Another public meeting will take place, likely in September, Bergeron said last month.
DEP will hold a public meeting on Wednesday regarding an eight-turbine wind farm in Oxford County. That meeting will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Canton Fire Station on Route 108 in Canton.