Library filed under General from Maine
Town officials will be developing an ordinance to regulate wind energy projects after residents voted Monday to impose a six-month moratorium on such projects. ...The Columbia moratorium was approved by a 28-16 vote at the annual town meeting. The town’s Planning Board sought the moratorium in order to allow time to consider enacting local guidelines for the project.
After three years of litigation, a Maine Superior Court decision has finally found in favor of wind turbine neighbors complaining about excessive noise from three nearby 1.5 megawatt GE wind turbines. Although citizens across the United States living near wind turbines are complaining -- including lawsuits against wind turbine operators -- this is the first court case where a state judge has found against a state agency charged with enforcement; the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
The 12 long-term wind power purchase agreements (PPAs) equal an impressive 409 MW from three projects in Maine and New Hampshire; however, due to issues regarding three other wind farms, the deals still represent 156 MW less than what Massachusetts' utility companies had originally proposed last year.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
The opposition group suggested they’re suspicious that what could be considered a report beneficial to developers was written in part because First Wind, Patriot Renewables and attorneys and supporters of those firms can be found among Maine Audubon’s corporate partners. “They’ve basically given wind developers a free pass ...We speculate it’s because they’ve gotten chummy with the wind developers, and that’s possibly influencing their report and misleading the people of Maine.”
The Board of Environmental Protection on Thursday rejected two challenges to permits granted earlier this year for the $110 million Hancock Wind project in Hancock County.
Renewable energy developer First Wind reached an agreement with Burlington Electric Department (BED) to sell the utility power generated from the planned Hancock Wind project near Ellsworth, Maine.
Building the first phase of a floating wind-power project off Maine’s coast would create as many as 341 jobs and trigger at least $120 million in investment, with half of it going to Maine-based companies, according to a draft power-purchase contract to be filed Wednesday with the state.
The joint venture, formed by the two companies in June 2012, previously attempted to refinance its debt in August but postponed the effort because the market wasn’t offering favorable terms. At the time, questions were raised as to whether the false start reflected a market shift away from renewable energy.
Residents approved one local referendum question and rejected another on Tuesday’s ballot. Voters supported a proposal to build a wind farm in town. But they voted against an ordinance banning fireworks within the town limits.
On the electricity from Maine, regulators said, “Because of transmission limitations, it appears that the electricity generated by this project will remain exclusively or largely in Maine and not be delivered to Connecticut or elsewhere outside of Maine.”
First Wind argues that its project complies with existing law. If it’s not successful, First Wind could face penalties stemming from its deal with National Grid. While the deal is complicated with various opportunities for First Wind to extend milestone deadlines toward completion of the project, the bottom line is that if First Wind does not get its DEP permit and does not complete the wind farm by March 2017, it would forfeit nearly $1.5 million it put up in security.
A Massachusetts developer is appealing a state regulatory agency's denial of its application to build a $100 million industrial wind site on Bowers Mountain in eastern Penobscot County, its spokesman said Wednesday. Lawyers for First Wind filed the appeal with the Board of Environmental Protection late Wednesday afternoon.
The developer planning to build a 14-turbine wind farm on Passadumkeag Mountain has withdrawn its request for a Tax Increment Financing deal with Penobscot County. ...The developers have said the $79 million project will move forward, regardless of whether they receive tax incentives or not, according to Erik Stumpfel, an attorney who has helped the commission negotiate potential TIF deals.
The Canadian utility is adding gas power as a backup to its wind and hydro assets on the northeast, having in June 2012 formed a partnership with First Wind. It also owns investments in the Caribbean and gas grids. The partnership Northeast Wind Partners operates eight wind turbine projects with a total capacity of 385MW.
Donna Davidge, an Island Falls resident and member of the group who has been a vocal opponent of the project, said that past fundraisers have been "very successful." "We've always gotten tremendous support," she said Friday. "I don't think that First Wind understands how deeply the landowners here will be negatively impacted by this project."