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Hearings this week target wind farm plan

A controversial wind-power project proposed for the top of two of Maine's tallest mountains will go before the public at hearings Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Sugarloaf. ........The Land Use Regulation Commission, which overseas land use issues in the unorganized territory, is charged with deciding whether to rezone about 1,000 acres on the two mountains so that land can be used for the wind farm.

Maine Mountain Power LLC has called for placing 30 turbines 41 stories high on Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain in Redington and Wyman Township in Franklin County. The development would generate clean power at affordable rates for decades, but it would also push roads and transmission lines into pristine subalpine habitat that is home to several rare or threatened species and site huge lighted wind towers within about a mile of the Appalachian Trail.

The Land Use Regulation Commission, which overseas land use issues in the unorganized territory, is charged with deciding whether to rezone about 1,000 acres on the two mountains so that land can be used for the wind farm.

The commission's hearings this week have attracted the attention of a long list of prominent environmental groups.

Opposition to the project has underscored the potential and problems of wind power, which can offer affordable electricity without producing greenhouse gases, but can do so economically only in those sites with both adequate wind and proximity to power transmission lines.

Utility experts say that Maine has great potential for wind power if it can find suitable sites.

That question -- what is a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Maine Mountain Power LLC has called for placing 30 turbines 41 stories high on Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain in Redington and Wyman Township in Franklin County. The development would generate clean power at affordable rates for decades, but it would also push roads and transmission lines into pristine subalpine habitat that is home to several rare or threatened species and site huge lighted wind towers within about a mile of the Appalachian Trail.

The Land Use Regulation Commission, which overseas land use issues in the unorganized territory, is charged with deciding whether to rezone about 1,000 acres on the two mountains so that land can be used for the wind farm.

The commission's hearings this week have attracted the attention of a long list of prominent environmental groups.

Opposition to the project has underscored the potential and problems of wind power, which can offer affordable electricity without producing greenhouse gases, but can do so economically only in those sites with both adequate wind and proximity to power transmission lines.

Utility experts say that Maine has great potential for wind power if it can find suitable sites.

That question -- what is a suitable site and what isn't -- will play a major role in determining how much wind power the state develops and will also be at the core of the hearings.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine, perhaps the most influential environmental advocacy group in the state, has asked Maine Mountain Power to drop plans to place turbines on Redington ridge. The council has stated the project creates a conflict between two goods, the need for clean energy and the need to preserve wild places.

The taller of the two mountains, Redington Pond Range, features rare subalpine habitat that is home to the Bicknell's thrush and northern bog lemming, which is considered threatened in Maine.

By dropping plans to put turbines on Redington, the council has said that Maine Mountain Power will avoid most of the environmental problems that could ultimately doom the plan.

At the same time, they say the project will still retain the majority of its generation potential -- 54 megawatts compared to 90 if both mountains are used.

Harley Lee, president of Endless Energy Corp., one of the two partners of Maine Mountain Power, has said that such a significant reduction would make the project untenable.

Lee, who has been involved in wind energy since the late 1970s, said both mountains are needed if the project is to offer power at a competitive price.

He said that unless something can be done about global warming, which is caused by greenhouse gases like those created by power plants that burn fossil fuels, the rare habitat along the top of Redington ridge is doomed.

Alan Crowell -- 474-9534, Ext. 342

acrowell@centralmaine.com

 


Source: http://kennebecjournal.main...

AUG 1 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3733-hearings-this-week-target-wind-farm-plan
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