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CMP's Lewiston line plan zapped by state panel

"CMP has not met its burden of proof in this case," PUC Commission Chairman Jack Cashman said in a written statement. "The utility has not shown to my satisfaction through comprehensive testing or analysis that construction of the Lewiston Loop project is the most cost-effective means of addressing power reliability needs in the Lewiston area."

LEWISTON - The Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday rejected the Lewiston portion of Central Maine Power Co.'s proposed $1.4 billion power line upgrade.

The Lewiston loop of the Maine Power Reliability Program called for $108 million in upgrades to the city's electrical delivery system. More than $71 million was to be used to build a new substation on Larrabee Road.

PUC commissioners ruled that CMP's plan didn't thoroughly enough consider alternatives to the Lewiston upgrades, including lower voltage options to provide electricity without transmission lines. Options could have included generating electricity locally - solar, wind or river power - or reducing consumer electrical demand through conservation.

"CMP has not met its burden of proof in this case," PUC Commission Chairman Jack Cashman said in a written statement. "The utility has not shown to my satisfaction through comprehensive testing or analysis that construction of the Lewiston Loop project is the most cost-effective means of addressing power reliability needs in the Lewiston area."

Phil Nadeau, deputy city administrator, said he was concerned that the denial could hurt the utility's ability to deliver electricity to Maine's second-largest... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

LEWISTON - The Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday rejected the Lewiston portion of Central Maine Power Co.'s proposed $1.4 billion power line upgrade.

The Lewiston loop of the Maine Power Reliability Program called for $108 million in upgrades to the city's electrical delivery system. More than $71 million was to be used to build a new substation on Larrabee Road.

PUC commissioners ruled that CMP's plan didn't thoroughly enough consider alternatives to the Lewiston upgrades, including lower voltage options to provide electricity without transmission lines. Options could have included generating electricity locally - solar, wind or river power - or reducing consumer electrical demand through conservation.

"CMP has not met its burden of proof in this case," PUC Commission Chairman Jack Cashman said in a written statement. "The utility has not shown to my satisfaction through comprehensive testing or analysis that construction of the Lewiston Loop project is the most cost-effective means of addressing power reliability needs in the Lewiston area."

Phil Nadeau, deputy city administrator, said he was concerned that the denial could hurt the utility's ability to deliver electricity to Maine's second-largest city.

"There is certainly necessity for the Lewiston loop," Nadeau said. "We could be looking at a downtown casino and an entire riverfront development. All of that needs electricity, and that's the one thing a city of our size should never have to worry about. In my mind, the state should bend over backwards to make sure Lewiston has what it needs to do the economic development and the job creation they want us to do."

CMP spokesman John Carroll said he was waiting to get a written copy of the commission's findings before discussing the company's response.

"One thing they have talked about is needing more analysis," Carroll said. "That would be the most logical place for us to start."

CMP's Maine Power Reliability Program calls for upgrading a swath of power lines, beginning in Eliot in southern Maine and passing through central Maine to Orrington, where the lines would connect to lines from Canada. Along they way, they pass through Litchfield, Monmouth, Leeds, Greene, Lewiston and a corner of Auburn at the Durham line.

In some places, lines would be rebuilt or replaced. In other places, lines would be added, including 115-kilovolt and 345-kilovolt lines. The 345-kV poles, not common in Maine, are wider than traditional power-line towers and can be 20 to 25 feet taller than the lower-voltage poles.

Commissioners approved the bulk of the statewide program in June 2010, delaying a decision on the improvements where they passed through Lewiston.

The City Council approved a tax incentive in July 2009 to convince the utility to move some of its proposed lines around some residents' homes. CMP agreed. Those changes added an estimated $3.5 million to the utility's costs.

CMP was expected to pay an additional $1.2 million to Lewiston in new property taxes for the new substation and new power lines. The tax incentive agreement would have returned $358,723 of those new taxes to the utility each year.

staylor@sunjournal.com

 

 


Falmouth dials down municipal turbine

 


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var isoPubDate = 'March 02, 2011'By Aaron Gouveia

agouveia@capecodonline.com

March 02, 2011

FALMOUTH - The town-owned wind turbine at the heart of a neighborhood fight over its noise will be shut down during times of high winds.

Selectmen unanimously approved the partial shutdown in an unexpected late-night move Monday. The turbine wasn't on the meeting's agenda and the town's attorney recommended against discussing the issue.

The turbine, known as Wind I, will be turned off when winds exceed 10 meters per second, or about 23 mph, as a way to lessen the alleged health impacts on neighbors.

"We've been looking for any bit of relief, so this helped a lot," said Neil Andersen, who lives less than 1,500 feet from Wind I.

Selectman Brent Putnam, chairman of the board, said the plan is an interim solution and will be in place until a permanent consensus between the town and neighbors is reached.

Roughly a dozen West Falmouth residents living near the 1.65-megawatt turbine waited more than four hours for a chance to be heard by selectmen Monday.

It briefly looked as if they might not be allowed a turn at the microphone.

Acting Town Manager Heather Harper questioned whether a non-agenda item should be allowed. She also said Frank Duffy, the town's attorney, advised her and selectmen not to discuss the turbine issue.

"Town counsel asked that there be no discussion, and we've already not honored that request this evening," Harper said. "The expectation that this issue would be taken up after 11 o'clock at night I don't think serves the board and the decision-making process, or the residents who have sat here for four hours through a meeting."

Andersen interrupted the proceedings and presented selectmen with a calendar detailing the couple's discomfort with the turbine noise. Last month, he threatened suicide because of the turbine noise.

Andersen also complained of "splitting headaches" and said his wife, Elizabeth, has to take an excessive amount of sleeping pills just to fall asleep every night.

"Please do something," he said.

Several other speakers, some of them reduced to tears, spoke of similar health problems as well as their fears about a possible drop in home property values.

The zoning board of appeals recently voted to uphold Building Commissioner Eladio Gore's decision to exempt Wind I from the special permitting process. But neighbors are pressuring selectmen - acting as the owners of the turbine - to exercise their right to call for a special permit.

At least one selectman hopes the board takes matters into its own hands.

Selectman David Braga, speaking publicly on the issue for the first time, said he visited some of the affected homes in the middle of the night in October and was alarmed at the noise level.

He described the noise as "a washing machine whooshing noise" and "like someone put a sneaker in a dryer."

"I wish I had said something sooner and I'm sorry," Braga said Monday. "But something needs to be done for these people, and the sooner the better please."

Christopher Senie, the attorney representing 18 neighbors opposed to the turbine, said the vote taken by selectmen Monday night was "wonderful."

But it is only a first step toward the ultimate goal of a special permit, not only for Wind I but also for the identical Wind II, which has been erected but is not yet operational.

"The turbines have to go through the special-permit process," Senie said.

"The community is going to find a solution through that process and if you don't go through that process you'll never get to that level," he said.

Harper did not return two phone messages seeking comment Tuesday, to address how the partial shutdown of Wind I will impact energy production and incoming revenue for the town.

When fully operational, the turbine is expected to produce 3.5 million kilowatt-hours per year and $440,000 in annual revenue, according to town documents.


Source: http://www.sunjournal.com/c...

MAR 2 2011
https://www.windaction.org/posts/30207-cmp-s-lewiston-line-plan-zapped-by-state-panel
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