This was of course before Redington-Nubble and Mars Hill, etc.
As part the approval, Kenetech must release data immediately on possible bird impacts, include in its final plan information on power contracts with buyers of electricity, submit details of soil studies and erosion control plans, and show how it might minimise road construction at the sute. Commissioners, however, rejected a proposal to have Kenetech build the project in phases -- a scenario the wind company vehemently opposed -- and elicited a promise that Kenetech award at least 80 to 90% of the construction jobs on the wind farm to locals. The state has a high jobless rate.
The project is broadly supported by environmental groups. Kenetech has agreed too to set aside $300,000 to buy land to be permanently protected against development, and has pledged $150,000 for state research on golden eagles. "We believe that on balance, this project will have a positive impact on both the people and the environment of Maine," four environmental leaders wrote in a newspaper editorial in July.
Charges of political interference stem in part from ties between the state's leading politician and local Kenetech representative, Chris Herter. Governor Angus King and Herter have been friends for 20 years and were once business partners in a hydro project. Kenetech's Maine attorney also worked for the governor last year. State planning director Evan Richert argued for zoning changes as a paid consultant to Kenetech before he was appointed by King.
But the most eyebrow raising turn of events took place in June when King's conservation commissioner, Ronald Lovaglio, replaced LURC staffers who gave Kenetech's project a negative review. They had pointed out that the potential impact on the fragile mountainous soils and endangered birds were serious project flaws. Following the staff replacements, another LURC employee resigned, protesting against heavy-handed tactics.
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