Granite Reliable Power

This month the Coos Planning Board is expected to continue reviewing developer Les Otten’s plan to greatly expand the ski area. And, that's likely to include how close skiers can get to the wind turbines on some of those mountains.

The issue arises because Otten wants to give skiers the maximum vertical drop by getting them to the top of the mountains.

But in 2009 when the Site Evaluation Committee was considering approving that wind farm it worried about people getting too close to the 400-foot high machines.

If Maine entrepreneur Les Otten can expand the ski area of the closed Balsams resort he says it would create about 1,000 full or part-time jobs.

That’s something the region desperately needs. But it isn’t clear whether Otten has the money or can work through a regulatory tangle including safety issues.

The issue is being raised after Otten said he would like to work with Dan Hebert and Dan Dagesse, the owners of the closed resort.

One issue is a safety concern. Can the huge blades on the 410-foot tall turbines throw chunks of ice far enough to endanger skiers?

Hearings before the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to decide whether to widen portions of a road leading to wind turbines in the North Country should be held in Coos County and not Concord, says Peter Roth, a senior assistant attorney general who represents the public interest before the S.E.C.

It is unfair to require interested citizens to travel to Concord, Roth wrote in a motion filed Monday. The trip can take three hours in good weather and it is expensive if an overnight stay is needed.