Land group says no to using former Navy tower for wind meter
PORTLAND — The Peaks Island Council on March 11 gave its initial support to an environmental group’s effort to conduct an island wind study that could eventually lead to operation of a wind turbine on the island.
The council, which unanimously supported the draft resolution last week, has scheduled a final vote the resolution on March 25. The resolution asks the city to support the island’s effort to begin developing clean, alternative power by allowing a wind meter to be placed on city property. It also asks that city staff be available throughout the process.
Although the PIC resolution is expected to bolster the Peaks Environmental Action Team’s initiative, the group was also dealt a setback last week when it was told that it could not use an old U.S. Navy tower for the meter. Use of the tower would have allowed the study to move forward more quickly and with the use of less equipment.
Sam Saltonstall, who is spearheading the wind study initiative, said the Peaks Island Land Preserve alerted him last week that conservation easements for the tower limit temporary structures on the tower to only 90 days. The wind data must be collected for more than year to accurately assess seasonal velocity, direction and frequency of different speeds.
Saltonstall said the group is exploring other potential sites with a team from Unity College, which is offering the meters and data analysis to the island for free as an education exercise for its students.
Before the tower was eyed for the study, PEAT was considering placing a nearly 200-foot tower in Trott-Littlejohn Park. For that site to be viable, however, Saltonstall said the group would have to receive a zoning variance from the Portland Planning Board and City Council, since there is a 35-foot height restriction on the city-owned land.
Saltonstall was scheduled to meet on Tuesday with the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee, a subcommittee of the Portland City Council, to discuss the proposed zoning variance.
“We are hoping the … committee can assist us with obtaining such a zoning variance, which would cost us well over $2,000 if we had to initiate the variance request on our own,” Saltonstall said in an e-mail.
Meanwhile, city planners are working on a citywide ordinance governing wind turbines in the city.