GARY CAMPBELL: our chance to help DEP develop more reasonable standards for Wind Energy applications

 

  • SCENIC CHARACTER,
  • SHADOW FLICKER,
  • PUBLIC SAFETY,
  • TANGIBLE BENEFITS   and
  • DECOMMISSIONING

Gary is the man who led the successful fight against First Wind/Sun Edision

Please read his important post here:

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/urgent-dep-needs-your-a...

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Comment by alice mckay barnett on August 8, 2016 at 8:24am
8/7/2016
Mark Margerum Maine Department of Environmental Protection 17 State House Station Augusta, ME  04333-0017
Please accept this correspondence as comment by Alice McKay Barnett on the Department’s pre-rulemaking draft of Wind Energy Act Standards.
PUBLIC SAFETY 
In “5.A.  Public Safety”
Any complaint protocol "Hot Line" should be manned by Local Health Officer.
Local Health Officers in Maine
In 1885, Maine legislature authorized Maine municipalities to establish local Boards of Health, each headed by a Local Health Officer (LHO).
Every municipality/town is required by law to employ a Local Health Officer and LHOs are also responsible for adjoining area designated as unorganized.
Duties
Activities
• Health resource for community
• Report communicable diseases
• Problem solver to resolve complaints
• Examine nature of public complaints
• Investigate/Enforce complaints
• With consent, inspect and examine premises where filth and conditions pose a public health threat
• Enforce public health safety laws
• Keep record of complaints, investigation and resolution
Thank You
Alice McKay Barnett
1068 Dickvale Road
Peru, ME 04290
Comment by Gary Campbell on August 5, 2016 at 5:21pm

Great comments Paula. I've always wondered why the State has always accepted a non-binding letter of intent from a bank as proof of financial capacity. The statutes even allow DEP to force the applicant to foot the bill for any consultants they need to retain in order to evaluate an application! They do it for the scenic impact review, why not for the financial review?

Comment by Gary Campbell on August 5, 2016 at 5:08pm

Many people contributed to defeating Bowers. Having said that, it was the extreme natural beauty of the Downeast Lakes Region that actually defeated the project. After we won, I wondered if any other project was as poorly sited as Bowers was. What was First Wind thinking when they sited a project so close to nine recognized scenic lakes?! Maybe your region doesn't have as many scenic resources as the Downeast Lakes, but that doesn't mean you can't protect what you have.

IT'S CRITICAL THAT YOU RESPOND TO DEP'S REQUEST FOR YOUR INPUT ON A DRAFT OF REVISED STANDARDS FOR WIND PROJECTS!!!

This is your chance to help DEP tighten up the rules. Monday at 5pm is the deadline for your comments. Tell them scenic impact should be measured cumulatively. Tell them you want scenic impact estimated when there are no leaves on the trees. Tell them you want independent bird/bat mortality counts. Tell them you want them to consider the scenic impact of night lighting. Tell them you want full decommissioning costs set aside before a permit is issued. You get the idea.

YOU'RE BEING GIVEN A RARE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP STEER THE WIND APPLICATION REVIEW PROCESS. Wind developers are always whining that they don't get a "level playing field". Baloney! The Wind Energy Act gives them every possible advantage. If anything the playing field should be slanted in favor of the people and natural resources of Maine! Why should the playing field be level so out of state LLCs can desecrate our land and destroy Maine's brand just so they can get rich and folks down in Mass and CT can feel all warm, & fuzzy about being green?

I'll admit: I'M A NIMBY:  Not In Maine's Back Yard

Click here for the DEP draft document.

Send your comments to:

  Email: mark.t.margerum@maine.gov

  Maine Department of Environmental Protection
  17 State House Station
  Augusta, ME 04333-0017

  Phone: 207-287-7842
  Fax: 207-287-7191

Comment by Paula D Kelso on August 5, 2016 at 11:27am

These are my comments I submitted, hope it helps show the range of interest there is in getting DEP to revise and improve the standards:

Comment to the DEP re: permitting revisions for wind energy projects

From 1998 to 2005, I worked on our Town's Comprehensive Plan. When it was finally done and adopted in August 2005, I was ready to give my time and attentions to something entirely different. Unfortunately, I was prevailed upon to commence working on a Land Use Ordinance to follow-up on the Plan. From late 2005 to 2009, I worked with the Planning Board to draft a regulatory document that would update and replace nine existing town ordinances and hopefully well prepare the Town to respond to any and all permitting eventualities. Our small town receives very few applications in any given year. Most are residential shoreland related and the very occasional residential subdivision. As we are the typical rural Maine town where mixed uses are more the norm than the exception; we attempted to regulate more by impact than by location.

Just as we were finally prepared to bring the LUO to the people for a vote, the CEO and the Planning Board were approached by an individual stating that he represented Pisgah Mtn LLC, a group of local people looking to put wind turbines on Pisgah Mountain in Clifton. I felt that either the existing Non-residential ordinance or the drafted LUO could handle the application. However, the Board decided to delay the LUO and draft specific wind energy provisions. In the succeeding months and through numerous meetings, specific provisions were drafted, revised endlessly and added to the LUO.

We started by taking the State regulations and fine tuning them. Perhaps due to the Mars Hill experience, we drifted away from the DEP standards and looked at specific adopted town regulations. The Board and I were a group of average citizens with no prior knowledge of most of the salient issues related to wind facilities. The owners of Pisgah were present at all meetings and constantly suggested draft and revisions. They hired a sound consultant to come and have a Q and A with townspeople. By the time the LUO came up for a vote in 2010, the Town of Clifton was divided into two warring camps. The possibility of calm and intelligent vetting of the LUO was long past.

Skip ahead to the granting to Pisgah of Planning Board approval and a building permit and the subsequent court appeal. There were numerous points that could have been brought up in appeal and many were. One of the most irksome to me that found it's way into court but that was seen differently by the lower court and the high court was the question of whether Pisgah had proven 'financial capacity'. The Superior Court judge was of the opinion that Pisgah had not proven financial capacity but that the Ordinance wording was not specific enough to eliminate the possibility of differing opinions. The Supreme Court didn't (to my recollection) address the issue.

The Town of Clifton has spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 (one third of the annual town budget) on legal fees related to the Pisgah application. Towns in Maine don't have the resources, financial and otherwise, to deal with projects like wind energy facilities. When faced with such applications it is only natural for them to look to the State for guidance. What does the State do? How is that working out for the people of Maine? Should we do something differently? How well is the State handling such applications? With what success at avoiding legal pitfalls and public protests?

It was with some relief and enthusiasm that I heard that the DEP is revising their wind energy standards. I have read the draft of revisions and commend the department for taking steps to correct and expand on the permitting process. I will leave it to others for specific suggestions on the drafted revisions to date. The changes are definitely going in the right direction. Because of our experience here in Clifton, I would encourage including revising and expanding on the following:

§484. Standards for development

The department shall approve a development proposal whenever it finds the following. [1995, c. 704, Pt. A, §8 (AMD); 1995, c. 704, Pt. C, §2 (AFF).]

1. Financial capacity and technical ability.  The developer has the financial capacity and technical ability to develop the project in a manner consistent with state environmental standards and with the provisions of this article. The commissioner may issue a permit under this article that conditions any site alterations upon a developer providing the commissioner with evidence that the developer has been granted a line of credit or a loan by a financial institution authorized to do business in the State as defined in Title 9-B, section 131, subsection 17-A or with evidence of any other form of financial assurance the board determines by rule to be adequate.

In light of Pisgah, five years down the road and still grappling to find financial backing after submitting a pipe dream application, having gotten a pass from the DEP, the Court system and the town officials, we all need some robust financial capacity requirements. To say nothing of the many grand scheme projects by corporations with bankruptcy looming. As it is now, towns and the State find it necessary to expend extraordinary amounts of time and money processing applications for wind energy facilities that may or may not ever come to being. And if they do get built, that will commit the towns and the State to many more hours and dollars to monitor and regulate.

It seems to me, one of the starting points to weed the entrepreneurial schemers from the serious developers, is to get a thorough and professional financial vetting of the applicant and the application. If I would find the applicant a dubious investment for my own retirement fund, why should my local and state government put my tax money at risk by undertaking the lengthy and costly process of dealing with the entire application? And then waiting for years to see if there's any payback for the effort?

From page 46 of the Wind Goals and Criteria for Wind Permitting; MAINE WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT ASSESSMENT, Report & Recommendations – 2012, Prepared by the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security, March 2012:

Wind Permitting Process

5. Require independent analysis to evaluate the “financial capability” of a wind developer and expected output and capacity rating of a project’s turbines.

LURC and DEP often lack in-house expertise to assess the financial robustness of a project and expected output and capacity.

I would urge the DEP to add this recommended requirement and additional language to their current revisions. It would go a long way to preventing fishing expeditions by applicants; curbing those who are in the business of selling permits; and deterring those who are out to grab the incentives and move on leaving Mainers poorer and themselves richer. Additional measures are needed to rid our State and towns of the devastation the wind industry has and will continue to bring to Maine. This is only one step but it is an important, fair and just one. Please consider fulfilling this 2012 goal in 2016.

Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"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."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(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 https://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?" https://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.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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