Library filed under General from Maine
An opposition group's settlements with developers divide the resistance to wind-power projects in Maine. A$2.75 million settlement announced last month between Friends of Maine’s Mountains and SunEdison involving New England’s largest wind farm, near Bingham, has exposed a deep rift in the state’s wind-power resistance movement. The dispute offers a glimpse into an internal conflict that’s spilling over into the ongoing public debate about the benefits and harms of erecting giant turbine towers along Maine’s remote ridges.
A $2.5 million fund directed at conservation projects across western, central and northern Maine has been set up after an anti-wind group earlier this year dropped a lawsuit against the company building a wind farm in Bingham. ...“FMM is committed to preserving Maine’s unique natural resources, particularly its prized mountains.” According to the release, the Friends group is not a beneficiary of the conservation fund.
The company installed two meteorological towers in the area this week on land owned by Plum Creek, a forest management company, in the northeastern part of the county near Moosehead Lake.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Selectman Duane Vigue said the moratorium is being proposed to allow the planning board time to conduct research since the town has no standards for reviewing a solar panel farm. He said the project would be located in the middle of the historic district of town and the town wants to make sure it does not hurt the neighbors.
David Littell, the only member of the Public Utilities Commission who regularly disagrees with Gov. Paul LePage, says he will work on at least three major cases. The lone commissioner at the Maine Public Utilities Commission who has been at odds with the energy policies of Gov. Paul LePage says he’s going to remain on the job after his term expires on March 31.
The application also states that the site is located within the Moosehead Conservation Easement where “studies of wind speed, wind direction and other meteorological data is considered a specified land use to which Plum Creek has the right to undertake on the property.”
The group Friends of Maine Mountains has withdrawn its challenge to a permit for a 56-turbine SunEdison wind power project, clearing the way for the western Maine development to move ahead.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted Wednesday to take a second look at the terms of two long-term wind purchasing deals the three-person commission approved in December. The makeup of the commission has changed since the December approval, with Carlisle McLean joining the panel in place of former chairman Tom Welch, who retired early at the end of 2014.
Of the $1.87 million, $1.12 million would be in the form of annual payments of $56,000 ($4,000 for each turbine) over 20 years. That much is mandated by state law, which says wind developers must compensate host communities such as Osborn. Of the remaining $750,000, one-third of it would come in a lump sum payment that the town would be required to use for public safety costs. The other $500,000 would be a second lump sum payment for an energy conservation fund.
The Board of Environmental Protection, an appointed citizen oversight panel, will consider the Bingham Wind permit appeal at a March 5 meeting and hear oral arguments before taking up a draft order that would uphold the permit for the 62-turbine wind farm.
In a Feb. 18 order, the commission called for comments on whether the deals should be reconsidered in response to natural gas price forecasts from the benchmark Henry Hub, which now estimates that natural gas prices will be 20 percent lower than the prices the PUC used in its analysis of the wind power contracts.
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.
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.