Articles from Maine
Utilities regulators turned down Central Maine Power Co.’s request to negotiate a land purchase for an affiliated wind power developer, arguing such an arrangement could open the possibility of improperly favorable treatment.
A Texas-based company has filed an application with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to build a wind farm in Aroostook County for what would be New England’s largest wind farm.
Staff for Maine’s utilities regulators recommended that Central Maine Power Co.’s request to set up a land deal for its sister company that develops wind farms should be denied, stating such an arrangement opens the possibility of improperly favorable treatment for the affiliated power generator.
"Under the legislation, the Investor Owned Utilities (IOU) receive 2.75 percent remuneration for payments under the contracts, however this amount is expected to be less than the amount of legal expense incurred to obtain approval of the solicitation process, approval of the contracts and compliance with ongoing reporting and rate setting requirements." While that sounds like Unitil may be losing money, Unitil is not quite sure yet to expect.
Much of the scenic beauty for which Maine is so widely known will be despoiled. The stated 2,700-Megawatt goal of Maine’s Wind Energy Act would require as many as 1,500 wind turbines, each hundreds of feet tall, with accompanying access roads and new transmission lines, on up to 300 miles of Maine’s hills and mountains. Those transmission lines, to carry the electricity that could be provided by a single, high-quality conventional generator, will add billions of dollars to New England electric bills.
The Maine Legislature passed a bill Monday that would give residents of the state’s vast Unorganized Territory a chance – one chance – to have their communities excluded from the area of Maine designated for large wind power projects.
“DIF&W believes the proposed project poses an undue risk of mortality to birds, particularly songbirds, during spring migration. Given the Bull Hill Project is already operational and that the Hancock Wind Project is permitted, MDIF&W believes that the proposed Weaver Wind Project will represent significant adverse cumulative impact to migrating birds, and recommends denial of the Weaver Wind Project.”
It was a wind project that received federal funding based on the use of new technology to prevent turbulence, but the development certainly stirred up a political windstorm. David Carkhuff examines the controversy following former Maine Governor Angus King's foray into wind development in Maine.
Rep. Beth Turner, a Republican from Burlington, has several unorganized territories in her district and supported the committee proposal. "The 32 U-T's that I represent don’t have that right, their voices were taken away and they cannot have a public hearing," Turner said. "They deserve to have their voices heard."
residents narrowly voted to repeal the Wind Energy Facility Ordinance and replace it with the Planning Board’s original draft. ...Discussions between some residents and the Board of Selectmen were contentious in the days leading up to Tuesday’s vote after Tom Carroll, project coordinator for Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., said that the ordinance’s 35 decibel nighttime limit would likely prohibit a wind farm in Dixfield.
After delaying a vote for a week, the Legislature’s Energy Committee has approved Tennessee economist and nuclear security expert Bruce Williamson for the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
Several initiatives by Gov. Paul LePage, including a proposal to use money from timber harvesting on state land to help low-income residents with heating costs, appear to be dead for this year, following action late Thursday by the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.
An attorney has advised selectmen that sound limits in the town's revised Wind Energy Facility Ordinance are "pretty low" compared to others she has reviewed.
The committee took no action on the bill Wednesday. The panel’s co-chair, Sen. David Woodsome, R-York, said he hopes to hold a work session and vote on the bill Thursday. With time running out for the panel to wrap up for the session, lawmakers are under pressure to either kill the measure, adopt certain provisions or hold over the bill for consideration next year.
Gov. Paul LePage has submitted three bills to the Legislature aimed at lowering energy costs, but clean-energy advocates said Tuesday that the measures would dismantle years of state policies that support renewable energy and efficiency programs.
The state high court overturned a lower court ruling Thursday that had chastised the Department of Environmental Protection’s commissioner for loosening noise requirements for the island’s wind turbines.
O’Connor said the goals set down in the 2008 of 2,000 megawatts of installed wind energy in Maine by 2020 were unrealistic and should be removed from state law. “If the government must choose winners and losers, it must also make adjustments when the predicted winners turn out to be losers,” O’Connor said. She said large-scale wind developers had deep pockets and easily can run over local people who may be in opposition to their projects.
The bill, L.D. 1329, would eliminate the “expedited permitting” that industry supporters say has been key to making Maine the top wind power state in New England. Critics contend, however, that the law has forced Maine taxpayers to subsidize a costly and unpredictable energy source that mars the landscape while offering few, if any, environmental benefits.
One of the biggest and broadest challenges ahead in the electricity world is how to pay for the grid upgrades expected to cost about $1.5 trillion nationally between 2010 and 2030, an estimate developed by consultants at The Brattle Group. ...“It all has to make sense for the economics,” Williamson said in a phone interview Monday. “As soon as you start draining money off to pay utilities, you have less to do other things.”
Renewable energy developer SunEdison has decided not to seek a long-term contract with Maine utilities for its Weaver Wind project, following the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s reconsideration of the terms of a 25-year power purchasing agreement. The company withdrew its project from consideration in a filing Monday.