Articles from Maine
Shortly after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court decided that Julie and Peter Beckford had filed their appeal to stop a permitted wind farm on nearby Pisgah Mountain five days too late, the two Rebel Hill Road farmers filed another appeal asking for reconsideration. On Thursday, the supreme court denied the Beckfords’ motion for reconsideration.
Lawmakers are sharply divided on whether subsidies that promote investments in solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy are good energy policy or a drag on the Maine economy.
Is the prospect of having 14 wind turbines in your community worth receiving nearly $2 million in town coffers over the next two decades? That’s the question residents of Osborn will be considering this month, as First Wind pitches a three-prong community benefits package as part of its planned third wind farm in Hancock County.
The Board of Selectmen voted Monday evening to extend the moratorium on wind energy projects for another six months. The extension gives the town time to finish revising the Wind Energy Facility Ordinance.
With the Maine Wind Energy Act’s passage, Mainers in parts of the Unorganized Territory lost their right to participate in planning and zoning decisions related to wind power siting in their communities.
In the last couple weeks, the Friends of Dodge Hill have been rallying for the moratorium. After the vote, organizer Nikki Fox wrote in an email that she’s “heartbroken” it came within five votes of passing. While she trusts the ballots were counted properly, Fox said she’ll be calling for a recount. According to Town Clerk Connie Brown, that’s allowed.
Karen Bessey Pease of Maine attended an open house event sponsored by wind developer, Iberdrola. The purpose of the open house was to speak to the community about a proposed wind project Iberdrola plans to construct. Ms. Pease offers thoughtful insights about the event.
A majority of the workshop centered around an amendment that placed a low-frequency sound limit of 50 decibels post-construction and without contribution from other ambient sounds for properties a mile or more away from state highways or other major roads and 55 decibels for properties closer than a mile from such roads.
In 2013, the Fletcher Mountain project was awarded a 15-year power purchase agreement with a group of four Massachusetts utilities. However, Iberdrola cancelled the contract after failing to receive corporate approval, according to a regulatory filing.
A 100-plus crowd turned out Wednesday evening for a public conversation about a proposed moratorium on wind power development. That moratorium, which will come to vote at a special town meeting Jan. 20, would prevent the town from accepting any wind power proposals for 180 days.
Democratic Rep. Ralph Chapman, D-Brooksville, who has been a critic of special interests’ influence in the Statehouse, voted against L.D. 1750. He said he’s concerned about “the degree to which legislators are corporate clients, rather than spokespeople for the people they represent. “A lot of major legislation is written by law firms representing the clients whom the legislation is designed to help.”
I applauded your recent editorial concerning the leveling of playing fields concerning the wind power industry. It basically stated everything we, the residents of North Orland, have long been saying. There are copious amounts of money being proffered to any community willing to have them. Ask any selectmen if they have it in writing about the amount mentioned by the various mailings sent by the company wishing to erect the turbines. I refer to it as the “shiny sparkly” (a quote from “The Secret of Nimh”) in which the crow is dazzled by the sparkly object and easily dissuaded from the subject at hand.
“Because the Beckfords did not file their appeal with the Superior Court within the time required [by law], the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter,” wrote Justice Jeffrey Hjelm in the court’s decision. “Consequently, we vacate the judgment.”
The parties lining up in the case are the same who challenged a joint venture by Emera and Massachusetts-based wind developer First Wind. They argue such affiliations violate state law preventing companies distributing power, like CMP, from owning power generation assets.
Plans to build a major wind project in the western Maine mountains could again test the legal separation between power generators and distribution utilities, a bedrock rule in deregulation of the state’s electric industry 15 years ago. The project is being proposed by Iberdrola Renewables, a subsidiary of Central Maine Power’s parent company. ...Although the layout is still being refined, plans call for up to 33 turbines reaching 500 feet high.
The companies need regulatory approval for the transaction as a 2000 change in state law required power companies, such as CMP and Bangor Hydro Electric Co. (now Emera Maine), to divest of all power generation. That opened a competitive marketplace for power generators, and the regulatory process aims to make sure all generators are treated the same by power companies.
Karen Bessey Pease, a resident of Lexington Township, urged commissioners to reject the TIF proposal, saying that First Wind had already proved their financial capacity to the state and that there was no need to return taxpayer money to the company. “I realize that First Wind has received their permit to build the Bingham Wind Project, but as a resident and taxpayer in the unorganized territory, I would prefer that you don’t return any money to this developer.”
“If we don’t have a TIF, the state would tax the project and the property and use that money for the state,” said Lloyd Trafton, the county commissioner who represents the unorganized territories. “With the TIF, the state still collects the tax, but they have to return it to Somerset County.” Creation of the district would be subject to approval by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development
Maine — and the nation — have had ample time to realize that the wind industry has never fulfilled its promise in the three decades since state and federal governments began doling out tax credits and subsidies. The industry continues to claim it needs special consideration and taxpayer support, even as developers have tucked millions upon millions of dollars into their own pockets.
Cassida did, however, later say that First Wind intends to file the necessary paperwork for Weaver Wind before the end of 2014. Under the company’s tentative timeline, the project would receive its needed permits and other approvals next year, with construction starting in 2016 and the wind farm beginning operation in 2017.