Library from Maine
Three state representatives and a senator join local officials in fighting new turbines and transmission lines.
Four area members of the Legislature have joined county commissioners in Somerset and Piscataquis counties in opposition to proposed industrial wind projects in the Moosehead Lake region as a threat to the area’s tourism-dependent economy.
Wyman & Simpson, Inc., a Richmond-based construction company, submitted the only bid to the public works department for $30,000 to remove the turbine. Public Works Director Patrick Fox said the bid was much higher than expected and city officials will speak to Wyman & Simpson about lowering the cost of the project.
"A couple of months ago there was a meeting held right here where I'd say over 200 fishermen came and voiced their concerns about this project overall and there was not a single voice of support."
Residents of the town of St. George, which includes the villages of Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde, submitted a petition with more than 300 signatures at the town office and voice their opposition to plans by Maine Aqua Ventus to build a wind farm near Monhegan Island and bring the cable from the turbines onto shore in St. George.
"Putting an industrial plant a few miles off shore and then bringing the cable for the transmission of power into this tiny village and bringing it straight up the peninsula would really disrupt both of those activities - tourism especially, and lobstering and fishermen, absolutely," Blum says.
Opponents of an offshore wind project slated for development off Monhegan Island will take their fight to a new level Tuesday, when they plan to file a petition designed to prevent cables delivering electricity from the project to the mainland from passing through St. George.
The wind turbine never came close to generating the amount of energy promised, and Entegrity Wind went bankrupt in 2009, thus making the guarantee invalid. The wind turbine, in need of repair, was shut down last year due to safety concerns, according to City Administrator Kevin Sutherland.
Representatives of five transmission projects proposed in July in response to the Massachusetts solicitation for 9.45 TWh/year of hydro and Class I renewables (wind, solar or energy storage) tried to explain why their projects should be among those selected in January. Contracts awarded under the MA 83D request for proposals are to be submitted in late April.
After discussing the idea of following their counterparts in Somerset County by drafting a letter in formal opposition to additional industrial-scale wind development for customers in Massachusetts overlooking Moosehead Lake, the Piscataquis County Commissioners signed a document of their own during an Oct. 3 meeting.
The local Ordinance Review Committee reached a tentative agreement last week on a proposal to lessen key restrictions in the town’s new commercial wind power ordinance. Don Bennett suggested a setback of 4,000 feet from the property line, and Smerczynski and Brown agreed. ...Most members agreed to stay with the current level of 35 decibels during the day and 25 at night.
But in 2017, ISO New England, which administers New England’s power grid, hasn’t permitted any new wind proposal in Maine. Al McBride, the group’s transmission planning director, says the trunk power lines in Maine were built mainly to serve local loads — and they have reached their capacity. “That’s one part of it. The other part of it is these proposals are located remotely from the existing infrastructure,” he says.
Massachusetts’ demand for clean energy has drawn interest from several companies hoping to win lucrative contracts to transmit wind and hydro power from Maine, Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The utilities National Grid, Eversource and Unitil, along with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, are considering dozens of bids, including Maine-based proposals that would entail overland transmission lines and at least two undersea cables running through the Gulf of Maine to the Bay State.
“I’m concerned with the future development of wind farms in the Moosehead Lake area of Somerset County and the effect that will have on our tourism business, which is 95 percent of our livelihood,” Richardson said. “Without these transmission lines in place, they will not be able to sell the wind energy to Massachusetts. This is a critical piece of the puzzle for the power companies.”
The letter and accompanying resolution — both supported 5-0 — cite the dangers of 500-plus-foot wind turbines and the associated transmission lines they say will forever spoil the “world class beauty” of the region.
At the September 6, 2017 meeting of the Somerset County Maine Commissioners, the Board adopted Resolution 17 – 164 that publicly opposes any additional industrial Wind Development in Somerset County. The agenda for the meeting can be found here. The full resolution, as adopted, is provided below and can be accessed at the links on this page.
Residents said they feared the 500-foot tall turbines would adversely affect the aviation tradition on the lake, culminating every fall with the Greenville Fly-in. “There’s a lot at stake,” McDonald told the group. “The view and the wilderness experience. There’s a future at stake if you want to develop tourism in the area, the turbines pose a serious threat to the region.”
A group that fears that more industrial wind development in rural Somerset County will hurt the economy and quality of life for area residents.
In 1819, Maine separated from Massachusetts and became its own entity. We have gotten along just fine for the past 200 years. But Massachusetts wants to use us as its industrial power center by running power lines and putting up industrial wind turbines in our mountains.
Evans-Brown says opponents want to know why their scenery should become the pass-through for Massachusetts' electricity needs, "people who have businesses that would be impacted by the construction, and who believe they're business depends on tourists coming up to visit. There's a very famous pancake parlor that the owner came and gave very impassioned testimony."