As oil prices shoot toward the heavens, the Cape Elizabeth Town Council is taking a closer look at sending some windmills in that direction as well.

The Council voted May 9 to schedule a public hearing July 14 on two proposed ordinances that would allow private and municipal windmills in town.

The public hearing – at 7:30 p.m. – doesn’t come fast enough for Kettle Cove Road resident Warren Roos, who began seeking town approval nine months ago to build a personal windmill on his property.

Cape Elizabeth doesn’t have any regulations regarding personal windmills, and Roos’ proposal has spent the ensuing time blowing in the wind as Cape officials mull a broader and more all-encompassing town-wide alternative energy policy.

On July 14, the Council will hear public comment on two alternative energy issues: first, personal windmills, as requested by the Planning Board, and second, a town-owned “pilot” windmill, as suggested by the newly formed Alternative Energy Committee. The committee hopes that a town-owned windmill would allow the town to test first-hand the cost-effectiveness, visual and aural impact, and general suitability of windmills in Cape Elizabeth. It would theoretically be used to power a municipal building, such as a school, but the size, location, funding, and any other specifics of the windmill haven’t been determined yet.

“You need to start thinking outsidet the box. Let’s face it, the federal government has let us down royally,” said Jack Roberts, a neighbor of Roos’ who believes his property also has significant wind potential. “As Bob Dylan said, ‘The times, they are a’changing.'”

A frustrated Roos told the council that he had earlier estimated his windmill could pay for itself in about seven years; seven months later, given the skyrocketing price of oil, he figures it would take only about 4-1/2 years.

“Please seriously think about what is going to the good folks in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar, and all those places,” he said.

Council members say they are completely on board with the alternative energy idea, but they want to make sure hastily thrown-up windmills don’t ruin the quality of life in Cape Elizabeth.

Councilor Cynthia Dill said the council has received a number of letters from people who are opposed to windmills.

“We recognize the issue,” Councilor Paul McKenney said. “We know it’s important. We’re on the forefront … It’s very likely that what we do here will (have an impact) regionally.”

“Each of us gets more interested (in alternative energy) as the price of oil goes up each day,” Councilor David Backer said.

He added that the solution to the current energy crisis is likely “blowing in the wind.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.