Library filed under General from Maine
The goal is not only to link Maine Public Service with the regional power grid but also to provide capacity for proposed wind power projects totaling 800 megawatts, five times Maine Public Service's existing load. Aroostook's existing 42-megawatt wind power project on Mars Hill sends its electricity to Canada. The northern Maine power grid's isolation has been a barrier to competition. In December 2006, the Maine Public Utilities Commission's standard offer solicitation attracted only one bidder. ...The line, between 150 and 200 miles long, would cost between $400 million and $500 million, but it would be economically feasible with the participation of ISO-New England and its member utilities, officials said.
I'm sorry to inform you that there is an institution in Maine that repeatedly makes promises to the public, but rarely fulfills them. This same entity is also prone to issuing statements containing exaggerated claims about its accomplishments. And when it comes to the financial benefits it bestows on the public, let's just say its veracity is questionable. The Legislature? Don't be silly. The Legislature's veracity isn't questionable. It's nonexistent. I'm talking about the wind-power industry.
A Texas company is courting Aroostook County landowners as it moves forward with plans for several large wind farms that could transform the landscape in some areas of northern Maine. Horizon Wind Energy's long-term plan envisions up to 400 turbines spinning in the farm fields and forests of Aroostook County. Company officials say they are focusing on a forested area west of Bridgewater. But Horizon officials are keeping mum on additional locations, adding only that most are agricultural or forested sites in eastern Aroostook County. ...Horizon, which is also operating locally under the subsidiary name Aroostook Wind Energy, has been quietly working on the project since 2005. ...Dawe said Horizon has received positive feedback from many landowners but that the company strives to be upfront and open about the project. "A wind power project is a large undertaking," he said. "Turbines are neither silent nor invisible."
In their "Selectors Letter" in the town report, selectmen argued: "The budget committee has increased the legal services request in our administrative budget to $25,000 due to renewed legal challenges to the town over the windmill project on Beaver Ridge. Three lawsuits are now pending against the town by anti-windmill group (sic). One is over the status of the Sibley Road, one over the status of the building permit, and one over the Selectors' refusal to accept a petition to re-enact the Commercial Ordinance. The town has voted on the windmill issue three times now and enough is enough." The letter states that legal battles over this issue in the past have cost the town more than $8,600 in legal fees. That letter drew fire at town meeting from members of the Beaver Hill Landowners' Association, which distributed a letter of its own to residents before the meeting. The letter accuses the selectmen of making false statements, chiefly that there are three lawsuits pending against the town by the anti-windmill group. "In reality, there are no lawsuits pending with regard to either the status of the building permit or the Selectors' refusal to accept a petition to re-enact the Commercial Ordinance," the letter states. "We have only one request before the Court, to clarify the status of the last 1,000 feet of the Sibley Road, which, like many other roads, was discontinued by a town vote... We are not asking for money or damages from anyone in this request."
Despite the Mars Hill wind project's success, there are some people in the community who have been opposed to it since the beginning. They say when the turbines are moving, it's just too noisy. "There's 18 families, and I happen to be one of them, that live within a mile of the complex, that listen to noise almost on a daily basis and it's a constant noise," said resident Rod Mahan. Pat McGowan says he understands their concerns, but the need for locally produced power in this time of high energy costs is important. "The folks are taking a risk in Maine and they're betting on these ridge lines and they're betting on renewal energy for a very very long time and that's important," said McGowan.
Fresh from last week's success of helping Byron town meeting voters defeat an ordinance change favoring wind-power facilities, the grassroots Save Our Towns Coalition has now offered to help Roxbury residents do the same. They've also changed their name to Byron Landowners Opposing Wind, or BLOW, according to co-founder Sarah Nedeau of Byron. "BLOW is a group of concerned residents and nonresidents whose only interest is making certain (that) everyone has factual information concerning the wind project," Nedeau stated by e-mail report early Wednesday morning. ...BLOW's purpose is to answer any questions people might have regarding wind power and the area. "We're not a bunch of lunatics making something bad up. Nobody's out to cheat and lie for their own gains," he said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened a 30-day public comment period Tuesday on TransCanada's federal permit application for wind farm development work. TransCanada Maine Wind Development wants to build a $270 million, 44-turbine commercial wind farm on the ridge lines of Kibby Mountain and Kibby Mountain Range in northern Franklin County. It would have a total generating capacity of 132 megawatts. ...A new transmission line will extend 27.6 miles from the common substation to an existing substation adjacent to Route 27 at Carrabassett Valley. About 1,300 square feet of wetland will be permanently filled during pole placement and approximately 7.59 acres of wetland will be temporarily filled using timber mats to access pole locations.
In its first five weeks of operation, the windmill has been sitting still far more often than it has been generating power. Though the supply of wind is highly variable and five weeks is too short a period to judge the effectiveness of a turbine, the first municipally-owned, mid-sized windmill in Maine has not yet reached the production levels expected of it. The company that sold the Canadian-made turbine to Saco, Entegrity Wind, guaranteed the city it would produce at least 90,0000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, worth about $13,500 at market rates. So far, during what is normally a blustery season in Maine, the turbine has generated 1,340 kilowatt hours, or $201 of electricity. Charles Newcomb with Entegrity said there is a simple explanation for the turbine's performance -- lack of wind. "It's been an extremely low-wind month ...
By giving organized Maine expedited status for wind developments, the state's task force has invited developers to consider these areas for projects. It's an incentive, plain and simple, to know where planning reviews will have priority, and where they will not. Reaction in Byron indicates towns and cities won't take to this designation, even if they think alternative energies are necessary. The belief somewhere else, or some other energy technology, is more appropriate is just too strong. It was in Byron, and if a reputed repeal effort in Roxbury gains strength, there, too. And these are emblematic of the towns wind companies should target - rural, mountainous and with low populations, and therefore low impact. But it's a choice to accept wind power, as communities and commissions have myriad reasons to reject proposals.
The reason for "little real debate" about wind power is the result of the media's refusal to initiate discussion by supplying the information necessary for a debate ("Maine steps forward, into the wind," Feb. 16). Rather than providing the facts on the issue, we hear and read only the bellowing hype of unsubstantiated promises by the industry and its developers. ... The newspaper would better serve its readers by offering a look at the other side of this coin.
This week has been a particularly windy one for government regulators: The U.S. Minerals Management Service also declared that a wind farm proposed off Cape Cod in Massachusetts would have little lasting impact on wildlife, navigation or tourism. This ruling could clear the way for construction of a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound, 5 miles from the nearest coastline. ...I say: Before we start defiling shorelines and mountaintops with manmade contraptions, let's spend more energy on conservation. Besides, getting through Wicopessett Passage in a kayak, or climbing to the top of Redington, is hard enough without having to duck beneath a spinning turbine.
Prospective developers of a wind farm near the Canadian border in Western Maine said Tuesday they hope to begin construction this summer and have all 44 turbines up and running by 2010. ...TransCanada's project cleared a major regulatory hurdle on Monday when the Land Use Regulation Commission unanimously approved the Canadian company's application to rezone 2,367 acres for the project. Before construction begins, TransCanada must also submit a final development plan to LURC, which regulates projects in Maine's unorganized territories.
Maine land use regulators voted unanimously to approve TransCanada's wind-power project in western Maine, but rejected a second poject by another group that had been scaled back after being turned down a year ago. The Land Use Regulation Commission voted to allow a 44-turbine project near the Canadian border in Franklin County, saying TransCanada Maine Wind Development's application answered its concerns that roads would be built properly, and birds and bats would be protected. Commissioners also said the developer's project would not present the same kind of intrusion on the highlands scenery as the project proposed by Maine Mountain Power, whose 18-turbine project south of TransCanada's was turned down by a 4-2 vote earlier in the day.
A meeting on Monday could mark an important milestone for Maine's fledgling, but growing, windpower industry. The seven-member Land Use Regulation Commission board is scheduled to deliberate on two windpower projects in Franklin County: Maine Mountain Power's Black Nubble development, and TransCanada's Kibby windpower installation. The citizen board could hand down decisions on both. Together, those two proposals have a generating capacity of more than 180 megawatts. ...Dave Wilby, executive director of the Independent Energy Producers of Maine, said that while siting windpower capacity is a challenge, wind is also one of the few types of power facilities that has a realistic chance in Maine. Siting generating capacity "is not easy anywhere and it is not easy here," said Wilby.
The wind in New England blows mainly against big green-energy projects. At least that's the assessment of Matt Kearns, an audibly frazzled project manager for Newton, MA-based UPC Wind. Despite winning final approval last week for the creation of New England's largest wind-energy installation, now under construction on a ridge in northern Maine, Kearns says the regulatory and political barriers to placing major cleantech facilities in the region are high enough to scare off all but the most persistent and well-funded entrepreneurs. "The uncertainty and the costs associated with that uncertainty are pretty overwhelming, frankly, in many cases," says Kearns, who has spent the last several years shepherding UPC's Stetson Mountain wind farm project past the cautious scrutiny of state, county, and federal agencies, not to mention local residents and environmental groups.
State land use regulation commissioners plan to deliberate Monday on two wind power projects that developers want to build in northern Franklin County. The session will be open to the public but no public comments will be taken. Instead the Land Use Regulation Commission will deliberate three hours each on the projects using facts and findings and conclusions of law submitted by project developers as well as parties for and against the proposals. ...Public hearings on both Maine Mountain Power, LLC's and TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc.'s projects were held last year.
Can Mainers promote renewable energy, protect natural resources and agree on sites for turbines? Yes -- but it would take some talking. We have a conflict today in Maine between renewable energy development and natural resource protection. Recent debates about several wind power proposals (Kibby, Reddington and Black Nubble mountains) have brought attention to differences between constituent groups. ...Does this mean every wind turbine proposed in adequate-wind areas should be permitted? No. Should most of them be? Perhaps, but today no one can reasonably make such a statement -- the threshold of ecological sensitivities has not been examined closely enough. The regulatory implications of a clear statement to this effect would obviously be enormous. Therefore, formulating the statement should occur only after a concerted consensus- building process among all groups in Maine with a stake in these issues.
A Massachusetts energy company has received the green light to begin construction of a 38-turbine wind farm in northern Washington County. Maine's Land Use Regulation Commission voted 5-0 on Wednesday to approve UPC Wind's final design plan for what will be New England's largest wind-energy facility. The vote clears the way for UPC to begin work on the Stetson Mountain site, located between the communities of Danforth and Springfield. "We are mobilizing equipment to the site today and tomorrow, so construction activity will begin promptly," Matt Kearns, project manager with UPC, said Thursday afternoon.
Maine's wilderness zoning board has given final approval to a 57-megawatt wind farm in northern Washington county that would be largest such project in New England. The Land Use Regulation Commission voted 5-0 Wednesday, with two members absent, in favor of the plan by Evergreen Wind Power to install 38 turbines on Stetson Mountain, a ridge line that stretches between Danforth and Springfield.
The town first began to look at wind power about a year ago, and town councilors agreed to hire a consultant to work with them on the issue. Raymond said Thursday that the consultant has provided two proposals ...The first would involve a small, 33-foot wind generator that could be installed at a town facility ...The second proposal would be for a much larger generator, Raymond said. That would include installation of a 120-foot generator capable of producing three-phase power and between 78,000 and 100,000 kilowatt hours per year. ...While the smaller unit should not create any problems, Raymond said, the town will have to look at the operation of both generators carefully to ensure they would not create problems for residents near the sites that are ultimately chosen. Noise might be an issue, he said, adding that committee members likely would want to visit a site where a similar unit was in use. The committee also will have to consider the visual impact of the generator, he said.