Articles from Maine
"This does more for PR value for First Wind than it does anything else," says Chris O'Neil, who is with Friends of Maine's Mountains, which actively opposes the 62-turbine project in Bingham, Kingsbury Plantation and Mayfield Township. He says he's glad that the groups got something out of the agreement, but wonders why First Wind would offer anything at all, given that the groups presented no real challenge to the project.
As part of an agreement with the conservation groups, First Wind will donate $700,000 to land conservation and seek approval for lights that remain off unless triggered by approaching aircraft.
State officials under Republican Gov. Paul LePage say the Democratic-supported bill would prevent regulators from receiving information needed to weigh wind energy projects. And Patrick Woodcock, director of the governor’s energy office, spoke against the measure. He told the committee the proposed decision-making process ‘‘would continue to try to simply rubber stamp projects going forward without asking those questions about how can we help this project benefit the Maine people.’’
More than 100 supporters and opponents of what would be the state’s largest and most expensive wind project presented their views Wednesday night in a public hearing called by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. They spoke of noise and light pollution, quality-of-life issues, the economic benefits of wind power and the partnership of private land owners and business.
This hastily prepared assault was crafted by the industry with the clear intention of hijacking the public process, restraining regulators and punishing opposition. It’s a mirror image of how the industry secured their highly favorable 2008 Wind Act ...L.D. 1750’s arrival at the end of a short legislative session serves to stifle public debate and allows Alfond and his cronies to push through their fix with minimal public scrutiny.
An acoustics investigator is disputing a recently released report that indicated Beaver Ridge Wind in Freedom is operating at noise levels below the noise limit required of similar wind projects. Stephen Ambrose, of Windham, reported to the legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee that he felt the report, which was conducted by an independent third party, failed to take into account noise results from particularly windy days.
Hosting the meeting was Katherine Cassidy. Cassidy reminded the audience that the focus of the assembly was not targeted towards future wind power development in Maine. The urgent cause for the gathering was to recognize that the rights of certain citizens are being jeopardized. “It’s not about wind power. It’s about citizens rights,” said Cassidy.
According to the draft analysis, northern long-eared bats and little brown bats are listed as state species of special concern and are being considered for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. They are among the least common bats to be killed by wind turbines, but concern has risen because of the rise of white-nose.
The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold a public meeting 12 February to review the report on the developer’s permit application. DEP commissioner Patricia Aho will preside over the session and gather public comments.
And now with Maine’s southern neighbors halting industrial wind in their states, they’re paying to build thousands of turbines in Maine, to devastate every magnificent Maine ridge, pinnacle and mountain with howling machines more than 50 stories high, some so tall they’ll be the third-tallest structures in New England.
With the agreement they made public Thursday, the governors — five Democrats and one Republican — started to broach the specifics of introducing more natural gas to a region that is often cut off from the benefits of America’s natural gas revolution.
One trend that has come clear is the existence of historic migration corridors the birds favor. Another trend shown by the data is how sub-adult eagles show “fidelity” or an attachment to the nest site where they hatched.
“Our energy prices are becoming more expensive for businesses competing across the world, and the Maine people are spending more of their disposable income on energy,” LePage wrote in a message to the Legislature. “Maine’s energy policy has been focused on streamlining wind development that is almost completely contracted with southern New England states. This is not helping Maine lower electricity prices or assisting Mainers with their high heating costs.”
The survey asks people to rate their level of support for the project based on their current knowledge. On a scale of 1 to 5, with “1” the least supportive, 63 percent checked “1.” Fifteen percent went with “2”; 5 percent rated their level of support a “3”; 8 percent, a “4”; and 9 percent checked “5,” the most supportive option regarding the project Maine Aqua Ventus is pursuing.
A long-term contract, as laid out in a finalized term sheet, will now be negotiated between Maine Aqua Ventus and Central Maine Power, which is the utility within whose jurisdiction the pilot project would be generating power. The term sheet approved Tuesday calls for Maine Aqua Ventus to sell electricity to CMP for 23 cents per kilowatt hour. The PUC will review and approve the final contract.
Under a bill being considered by the Energy, Utility and Technology Committee, the state could seek an assessment of the visual impact of a wind project as far as 15 miles from a scenic resource, like the Appalachian Trail, instead of 8 miles as it's written in current law.
For the fourth year in a row, Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is pushing to roll back or significantly change portions of Maine law aimed at boosting in-state renewable energy production. LePage says he wants to level the state’s energy-production playing field and open the door to cheap, renewable hydropower from Quebec and maritime Canada.
Brighton Plantation was approached by First Wind about a potential site for the project, but the town has a zoning ordinance that doesn’t allow for commercial and industrial development. "he project is right across our border and some of us are concerned that with it being so close to our town borders and us being a small town whether they will be respecting our borders.”
Lannicelli said Friday that most residents were worried that they were powerless to stop the project. She said a recent outreach efforts by Maine Aqua Ventus had only heightened the panic among some people on Monhegan. She said many were concerned about the politics of the project and the influence of its potential benefactors.
But the situation has prompted some soul-searching as some residents worry more wind turbines will turn the woodsy state into New England's utility closet. Opponents also question wind power's environmental merits and say turbines aren't worth spoiled views or noise. Larry Dunphy, a Republican state representative, recently posited a future when "you won't be able to climb a mountain without seeing blinking red lights and spinning turbines."