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LePage's energy director, Patrick Woodcock, made recommendations Thursday to rewrite the state's 2008 Wind Energy Act, shifting focus from growing wind energy capacity to lowering electricity costs and making sure Maine sees an economic return on its wind energy investments.
Opponents and proponents have begun two days of public hearings before the state's top environmental agency arguing the merits and problems with an industrial wind site proposed for Bowers Mountain.
The sides will square off when the Department of Environmental Protection holds two days of hearings this week on First Wind's application to build a 16-turbine, 48-megawatt wind farm, known as the Bowers Wind project, in a backcountry area straddling Washington and Penobscot counties. A year ago, regulators rejected First Wind's application.
The state's top environmental agency will set aside at least 16 hours for all participants to speak during a two-day public hearing on a 16-turbine industrial wind site proposed for Bowers Mountain, officials said Monday.
The town will not settle a lawsuit filed by three Mount Waldo property owners that challenges Frankfort's recently adopted wind energy ordinance after residents voted against a consent order to resolve the suit late last month at the annual town meeting.
Residents of this Piscataquis County town overwhelmingly passed an article that places a six-month moratorium on any commercial wind projects during Saturday's town meeting. The town also voted to place a six-month moratorium on any east-west corridor development.
The Board of Environmental Protection will hear appeals filed by Passadumkeag Windpark LLC and landowner Penobscot Forest LLC. They are appealing Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho's rejection of the plan to build a 14-turbine site on the mountain.
"My predecessor picked wind as the energy favorite, and that came at a high price for Maine people and our state's natural resources and outdoor heritage," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "While the initial-and largely taxpayer funded-investment in wind-power projects may be attractive to some, one-of-a-kind views like the ones from Saponac Pond have great value, and are long-term drivers of Maine's tourism and natural resource-based economy.
"Today's decision has the potential to control the future of wind development in Maine. Turbines have the potential to impact every landscape in which they're built. The impact of the turbine would be adverse, no question. But the question is this: Is the impact unreasonably adverse?"
"Towns that get involved in industrial wind projects lose. Our town is losing. Nobody anticipated endless legal expenses and there's no end in sight. My advice to towns is to slam the door on these wind projects. It will save their people a lot of misery and the town a lot of money."
This is a massive wind project that consists of 63 turbines 500 feet tall, 15 miles of transmission lines which are 7 stories tall and will run thru Mayfield Township, Kingsbury Plantation, Moscow, Abbot, Parkman, and Bingham.
The rule amendment did not become effective, however, until June 10, 2012, when it received the required legislative approval. The Board’s February 18, 2012 appeal decision affirmed the Department’s initial decision to apply the 45 dBA limit to the Saddleback Ridge Wind Project. This proved critical to the Law Court because the Project’s applications, while presenting evidence that the Project complied with the 45 dBA limit, presented no evidence that the Project would comply with the 42 dBA limit.
The Board of Environmental Protection will hear appeals filed by Passadumkeag Windpark LLC and landowner Penobscot Forest LLC of Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho's rejection of the plan to build a 14-turbine site on the mountain.
A Woolwich construction company is claiming in court that the developer of a permitted five-turbine wind farm in Clifton breached an exclusive contract agreement the two had by talking to another contractor and is also seeking payment for services.
First Wind, the Boston-based commercial wind power company, could be looking to significantly boost its presence in Hancock County. First Wind already has erected 19 turbines in Township 16 in eastern Hancock County and has applied to the state for approval to erect 18 more in Township 16 and in neighboring Township 22.
Legislation to make it unlawful for state officials to leave their jobs and immediately go to work for industries they regulated is one of several ethics bills in the Legislature this session. ...The story cited a case in 2007-08, when Maine's chief utilities regulator, Kurt Adams, negotiated for and accepted a job offer from a wind power developer while still head of his agency, and when the developer had business before the agency.
If approved, the new project would consist of 18 three-megawatt turbines made by either Vestas or Siemens. Of those 18 turbines, four would be located in Township 16 and the remaining 14 would be in Township 22.
"I would have hoped that, with those assumptions, the price would have been reduced more for Maine ratepayers," said Woodcock, noting that the revised proposal would reduce costs to ratepayers from roughly 30 to 27 cents per kilowatt-hour. "We would have hoped that receiving a 30 percent tax credit and a grant would have reduced the energy price more than three cents," he said.
The president of the Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed, Campbell said he hopes that First Wind's second application to build an industrial wind site atop Bowers Mountain will get rejected like the first.
The state's top environmental agency will hold a public hearing to help determine whether to permit an industrial wind site proposed for Bowers Mountain, a spokeswoman said Thursday.