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LURC decision leaves First Wind facing first defeat in Maine

Posted April 06, 2012, at 6:21 p.m.

Attorney Juliet T. Browne speaks in favor of a proposed industrial wind site on Bowers Mountain while a project opponent, Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed group President Kevin Gurall (right), listens during a LURC hearing in Lincoln on Friday, April 6, 2012.

BDN photo by Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Attorney Juliet T. Browne speaks in favor of a proposed industrial wind site on Bowers Mountain while a project opponent, Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed group President Kevin Gurall (right), listens during a LURC hearing in Lincoln on Friday, April 6, 2012. Buy Photo

LINCOLN, Maine — The state’s largest wind developer could face defeat for the first time in Maine with LURC’s decision Friday to deny a request to withdraw a proposed wind project on Bowers Mountain.

The Land Use Regulation Commission voted 5-0 at the Waterfront Event Center to reject First Wind subsidiary Champlain Wind’s request to withdraw its proposal to build a 27-turbine wind farm in a rural, sparsely populated area east of Springfield on the Penobscot and Washington county line. Commissioner Robert Dunphy abstained.

The vote leaves the commission free to act on an October staff recommendation to reject the project at a special meeting or at its next scheduled meeting on May 4, LURC staff director Samantha Horn Olsen said. She doubted that Champlain Wind could change the project enough by then to satisfy LURC’s requirements.

First Wind officials said they plan to submit a scaled-down proposal to build on Bowers Mountain later this year, but that didn’t stop project opponents from calling Friday’s decision a significant advance.

The opponents, who had objected to what they believed would be the Bowers Mountain project’s adverse visual impact on at least eight lakes and ponds within eight miles of the site — some considered “outstanding” natural resources by the state — were elated with LURC’s action.

“This shows the world that First Wind is not unstoppable,” said David Corrigan, a registered Maine Master Guide from Concord Township who opposed the project. “This shows that if they come forward with a bad project they can be denied. As far as I know, that has never happened before to this company.”

The rest is here.


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Comment by alice mckay barnett on April 9, 2012 at 11:28am
Comment by Bob Sousa on April 7, 2012 at 7:49am

Could this mean that someone at the state level is finally at least beginning to  pay attention. Maine has become a wind scammers windfall in the past few years and it's time that it stopped. Take away the huge subsidies and lax regulions and it simply will not work.

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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 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?" 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.”

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