For a pull quote you can use: “The solar company that would destroy my vista calls itself “Walden Renewables,” probably to conjure bucolic images a la Henry David Thoreau. However, row after parallel row of 15-foot-high, black solar solar panels is anything but bucolic."

Solar energy is disturbing the peace here on Christian Hill in Lovell, Maine. Residents are angry because they didn’t know anything about a huge, multi-million-dollar, 171 acre, solar-panel project that will be visible from our hill. What really ticks them off is that by the time they found out about it it was already too late to do anything.

Locals have been calling me and knocking on my door wanting to know what to do. What I've learned so far is not much, because Lovell doesn’t have an ordinance to regulate these things and I suspect the solar company knew that.

I knew nothing either until about two weeks ago. Even though the site abuts my property, I was never notified. To say that annoys me is understatement. A friend and I purchased 30 acres of overgrown former apple orchard enclosed by stone walls on Christian Hill over 40 years ago. The land slopes down from the road, which is a big disadvantage in every way but one: there’s a beautiful view westward toward the White Mountain National Forest in neighboring New Hampshire.

After splitting the 30 acres down the middle, my wife and I built a home on our half and moved into it in 1988. For the next several years, I personally reopened the view by cutting down enough trees for eight cords of wood every summer. I split it by hand and burned it to keep us warm each winter until I had cleared my half of the overgrown apple orchard.

I had stabilized the disturbed soil around our new house with a conservation mix but our gravel driveway remained a challenge. Thunderstorms opened gullies every summer until we figured out where to install ditches and culverts. Then I hired an excavator to remove the stumps left in the former orchard and stabilized the disturbed soil with more conservation mix. I get it bush-hogged each year now to maintain the field and preserve our vista. It’s been a lot of work and expense, but the scenery always made it worthwhile.

Lovell’s proposed solar project, however, will ruin that view. If it goes through as proposed, about half our panorama will be of hundreds black solar panels. My 40 years of hard work has increased the value of our property, but whatever it’s worth will be considerably diminished if our view is spoiled by acre after acre of ugly, black solar panels.

The solar company that would destroy my vista calls itself “Walden Renewables,” probably to conjure bucolic images a la Henry David Thoreau. However, row after parallel row of 15-foot-high, black solar solar panels is anything but bucolic. The 600-page Walden Renewables application to the Town of Lovell suggests we visualize sheep grazing beneath their black monstrosities and promises to decommission them after 30years.

Then, they say, the land would be open pasture. But if I live that long, I’ll be 100 years old. Maybe I’ll get to watch them finally disassemble the monstrous things from a rocking chair on my back porch.

These huge collections of panels not only look ugly, but the transformers are noisy. It’s not a loud noise, but it can be annoying because it’s a “Pure Tome.” Says Michael Bahtiarian, a sound engineer at Acentech: “In my opinion, when a person is bothered by sound, it is more likely the presence of a Pure Tone that is bothering them rather than just the sound level. At the wrong frequencies, a Pure Tone can be a highly annoying sound." It’s about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.

Lest you think this is just a local problem we’re dealing with, check out a Nov. 2 New York Times account: “Approximately 0.5 percent of U.S. land would need to be covered with solar panels to achieve the decarbonization goals proposed by the Biden administration in April, according to a study by the Energy Department." That’s 190,000 square miles, folks, and they’re not going to be built in cities. Expect to see them just about everywhere you look when you go for that nice, peaceful ride in the country.

Walden Renewables started quietly buying up leases in Lovell last February, but didn’t submit their application until October after all the summer people went home. Sneaky, huh? From what I can gather, the project will be visible from Kezar Lake where most of them own property. They have deeper pockets than us locals and have always helped enormously during previous fights against a nuclear-waste dump, a series of GWEN towers the Pentagon proposed to help generals communicate after a nuclear attack had killed the rest of us, and several other battles against huge projects by outsiders.

Lovell’s planning board will consider the Walden Renewables application at its regular meeting Wednesday, Dec. 1. It will be at the Lovell Town Hall because they expect a lot of people.

I hope they’re right.

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(2) comments

Scott Shallcross

For clarification: Acentech is an acoustal consulting company which "implements cutting-edge systems technology" to "quiet a noisy project." Acentech asserts that, "solar energy facilities can be designed to be inaudible."

suebee

The Maine Mall in Portland is listed as 90 Acres.This will be twice the size as that. Does lovell need a beautiful wooded area clear cut to put thousands of solar panels 2x the size as The Maine Mall filled with solar panels, poles, wires and transformers. Think 2x the size of the Maine Mall

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