Archived Documents - latest document added 9/1/10

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The attached letter written by Brian Raynes appears in the current edition of the Houlton Pioneer-Times and provides interesting insights into First Wind activities in southern Aroostook County.

Oakfield_Letter_Houlton_Pioneer_Times_9-1-10.pdf

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Comment by Long Islander on January 15, 2010 at 7:45am
A Bit of Recent Maine History - Baldacci Nominates His Chief Counsel Kurt Adams To Maine PUC Baldacci_Nominates_Kurt_Adams_To_PUC.pdf
Comment by Art Brigades on January 10, 2010 at 4:49pm
Yes. It is the comment in this thread, just a few below here. It Begins "Thanks Art..."
Comment by Bob Brooks on January 9, 2010 at 9:01am
Can someone point me to Brian Rayne's narrative? I can't seem to find it unless it is the comment in this thread. Thanks.

Bob
Comment by Art Brigades on January 8, 2010 at 5:23pm
Bryan- Thank you so much for that narrative. In my estimation you just wrote the campaign speech for anyone in anytown that is thinking (or not yet thinking) about protecting itself from Big Wind. Every selectman and municipal attorney should get a copy of your words. We can work on that. Meantime, The Sun Journal, BDN, and Maine Sunday Telegram could all use a good op-ed submission with this content in it. Town Meeting season is approaching. Do it please.
Comment by Brian Raynes on January 8, 2010 at 5:11pm
Thanks Art. You make a good point. Applicant funding of reviews is common. However, it only remains proper if there is sufficient separation between the regulated and the governing body or regulator. I can find faults with the process, as it relates to this review, but the outcome was a document designed to do just what it has done and that was to propose recommendations for the permitting authority. Nothing more. The point of detailing the funding source was to demonstrate the limitations of this type of process. This review has been portrayed a a "model" of tough regulation and negotiation for other communities to emulate. You initially stated your own impression as such. The review is not only site specific, it has no authority to regulate or intervene in any way. The process began after the permit application was filed. The town had no ordinances covering this type of development at that date. Once the applicant filed, the town could not easily develop any additional controls, even if desired. MDEP standards are the rules of operation at that stage. By engaging the town in a developer funded review at that point in time, First Wind essentially creates community good will. They only have to negotiate what they choose to, because the baseline is already set in Augusta. A very good business move.

Does this mean that nothing was accomplished? No. There were concessions, or at the very least, clarifications as to how the developer will proceed. These had to be voluntary. When a recommendation was not to First Wind's liking, there was little that the town could do - not so much because of the funding source as the nature and timing of the process. As an impacted abutter to the proposed development I will note that not one turbine or piece of associated infrastructure moved a single inch as a result of this process. Certain questions were answered but the impact remains the same.

Should this be a model for other communities? Absolutely not. Towns will be best served only if they follow the lead of some municipalities and enact strict standards for this type of land use before the development process begins. If there are intentional land use limitations, the community controls the process. In many areas targeted for this type of project, ordinances do not exist. In that case, the developer essentially controls the outcome. Guidelines set in Augusta, whether or not they are right for the particular locale, are all that must be met. That leaves the town asking, not telling. When facing projects of this nature, that is not a good position to be in.

I will be even more candid. I do not support the project slated for Oakfield in any way. I do not support the current model of wind development, period. I feel the limitations placed on developers, if one wants to call them limitations, at the State level are woefully lacking. Having stated that, I am not trying to impugn my local officials. I disagree with the majority of them on this project wholeheartedly, but these are people that I know. I watch them deal with a variety of local issues. Just because I strongly disagree with the path that they have chosen I will not support the suggestion that their actions were driven by nefarious motivations.

By focusing on the exploitation of wind resources/subsidy schemes in rural, economically deprived regions, developers prey upon municipalities' difficulties in meeting hard to attain fiscal requirements. Again, a successful business model. The lure of seemingly large amounts of revenue is intense for those in positions of municipal responsibility. Unfortunately, the ongoing and significant consequences of this revenue stream will devastatingly alter the character of much of the rural portion of this State unless checked - and soon.
Comment by Art Brigades on January 8, 2010 at 10:20am
I agree Brad, but as Brian says, let's be clear. It is common - and proper- from municipal planning boards to state and federal regulatory agencies, to charge the applicant for some or all of the costs incurred in reviewing/adjudicating a permit application. Plum Creek would have bankrupted LURC with their 5 year Lily Bay proceeding so Plum Creek had to pay. (Let's not talk about how they paid their supporters to maintain their advocacy.) This Oakfield $90,000 expenditure arrangement sounds like it was for a purpose similar to this. Is that correct, Brian? If it is correct, I don't even know if you can criticize the process, except to criticize the fact that the town had to kick in 30 Gs when the applicant should have paid the whole bill.
Comment by Brad Blake on January 7, 2010 at 11:24pm
This is such an outrageous conflict of interest that First Wind gets away with in every town and the dumb ass Attorney General of this state ignores it. If it quacks like a duck it is a duck. If a company is paying a town to ensure an outcome it is corruption. Doesn't anyone see that? We are rapidly making Illinois look like the poster child for clean government, by comparison!
Comment by Brian Raynes on January 7, 2010 at 7:54pm
While I may disagree with some of these issues, it was all public. In this case I fault the process, not the individuals.
Comment by arthur qwenk on January 7, 2010 at 7:41pm
Time to contact your State Senators and tell them that federal money is being used for bribe money and you won't take it any more! See Rep. Massa information from New York State. Federal bucks are being use for process perversion, not energy production. This goes to high levels.
Comment by arthur qwenk on January 7, 2010 at 7:37pm
That is outrageous. I bet this municipal officer is on the take as well, (ask him to his face), and getting favors he is afraid to disclose. Sue the bastards! They negotiated for you, were you asked? Was it done in public? Were there secret session meetings , or was the TIF negotitation public like it should have been? This is public money you know, they negotiated away on your behalf.

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?"  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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