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A better way to embrace wind power

The rejection of the proposed Redington wind power project will undoubtedly bring loud howls of pain from the project’s advocates. This is because the symbolism of wind turbines churning out electricity with no pollution and CO2 emissions is a powerful vision to us all. However, the issue that Maine Mountain Power and its supporters did not take into account is that there are some places in Maine where such mammoth facilities just do not belong.

The rejection of the proposed Redington wind power project will undoubtedly bring loud howls of pain from the project’s advocates. This is because the symbolism of wind turbines churning out electricity with no pollution and CO2 emissions is a powerful vision to us all. However, the issue that Maine Mountain Power and its supporters did not take into account is that there are some places in Maine where such mammoth facilities just do not belong.

An extremely fragile high mountain peak like Redington, one of only 10 in Maine over 4,000 feet, is one of those off-limit places. Black Nubble, next to Redington, is only slightly less fragile. And the fact that Redington is adjacent to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is another serious drawback. A much lower, more robust, more forgiving location would be much less costly to our environment.

Six of the seven commissioners of the Land Use Regulation Commission understood this and voted against the project, differing from their own staff. They are to be commended and supported for their courage. It is not easy to buck the economic impetus behind such developments.

The decision is not final, however. Great pressure will... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The rejection of the proposed Redington wind power project will undoubtedly bring loud howls of pain from the project’s advocates. This is because the symbolism of wind turbines churning out electricity with no pollution and CO2 emissions is a powerful vision to us all. However, the issue that Maine Mountain Power and its supporters did not take into account is that there are some places in Maine where such mammoth facilities just do not belong.

An extremely fragile high mountain peak like Redington, one of only 10 in Maine over 4,000 feet, is one of those off-limit places. Black Nubble, next to Redington, is only slightly less fragile. And the fact that Redington is adjacent to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is another serious drawback. A much lower, more robust, more forgiving location would be much less costly to our environment.

Six of the seven commissioners of the Land Use Regulation Commission understood this and voted against the project, differing from their own staff. They are to be commended and supported for their courage. It is not easy to buck the economic impetus behind such developments.

The decision is not final, however. Great pressure will be brought on the commissioners to reverse their initial ruling, but the people of Maine need to move beyond the rancor of the Redington project. Commissioner Stephen Wight in his dissenting vote touched on this when he suggested, very insightfully, that we need to look at the "whole" picture in making such decisions about siting.

Our governor has stated numerous times that he favors wind-power projects "where appropriate." Most Mainers would likely agree with him. The word "appropriate" as used in this context indicates that some places are suitable for wind-power installations, while some are not. The difficulty is that no one has defined what constitutes an appropriate site. The Redington proposal was a clear case of business interests, attempting to establish that fragile mountains are appropriate sites. There is real danger in allowing commercial organizations to do this, because they will tend to pick the most profitable sites, neglecting other public values. Redington was a clear example of this.

Does this mean that each new proposed wind-power development within the wildlands will meet with similar divisive controversy that tends to tear our state’s people apart, rather than have them work together to solve common energy problems? There has to be a better way.

LURC’s own comprehensive plan offers that better way. It calls for a comprehensive study to determine which sites in the wild country under LURC’s jurisdiction would be appropriate for wind power. Such a study would give the commissioners the yardstick they vitally need to make judgments about the siting of wind power proposals. And such a study would help business interests and their investors to know in advance that their projects would have a greater likelihood of approval. Such a study would not need to examine and evaluate every potential site. It would need only to identify and state general guidelines that would take into account public values that merely commercial evaluation might neglect.

I urge the LURC commissioners, the Legislature and the governor to consider such a study to be undertaken as soon as possible — certainly within the next budget year. We need wind power in our energy mix, but it needs to be sited at places where a minimum of environmental and esthetic damage will occur. Continuing divisive battles such as the recent Redington episode, seriously hinders orderly development of our state’s energy needs and could jeopardize the quality of life in Maine that we all desire to preserve.


Source: http://bangordailynews.com/...

FEB 6 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/7177-a-better-way-to-embrace-wind-power
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