Protect What You Love — Maine’s Dark Skies

by Roger Merchant

You L♥ve

Protect What

Maine’s Dark Skies

What was once scenic, untrammeled night sky in the Maine Woods is rapidly disappearing.

Since hiking into the Maine Woods in 1965 as a forester and photographer I have seen huge changes in our visual landscape, which is a key asset for the quality of life in Maine and for the tourism that much of our economy relies on. Wind farms on mountaintops and power transmission lines running through the wilder parts of the state contribute to that visual degradation — and more are coming.

In 1983, my son and I slept overnight in the old Barren Mountain fire tower on the Appalachian Trail. At midnight, I peered out the window to a starlit sky that extended outwards in all directions of the compass. There was one red light, far to the south on the Dexter radio tower.

The fire tower is gone and so is the unobstructed night sky, as wind farms march north towards Moosehead Lake. To the east, more red and flashing lights announce the presence of industrial development. ... ... .. .. . .

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Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on April 21, 2018 at 6:31pm

That was the fear/complaint by the Canadian Observatory to which for some reason the DEP will answer to with a bit of Federal Arm Twisting. We got the Blinky, Blinky Red Lights. Red Lighting of a particular shade does not disturb the night sky and should not be visible by aircraft (WWII Radar Equipment) but in order to see where these beasts are located, they had to be visible. I am not sure if they are dark enough over the horizon or negotiated by the Canadian Observatory or they were just told "Tough Luck" 

Comment by Penny Gray on April 21, 2018 at 6:21pm

Star gazing is something we rural Mainers take for granted, but it's becoming big money in the tourist industry.  Canada is promoting this very nicely. Maine should capitalize on what remains of our dark skies, not fill the horizons and cover the mountains with blinking lights.  Certain areas should be designated as dark sky "preserves". 

Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on April 19, 2018 at 3:09pm

Bingham at least, was a big fail concerning Radar Activated lighting since the range was set at 5 miles. Not only do Small Aircraft trigger the lights (if at all) so would commercial Aircraft in a flight path overhead unless they were 5 miles up. 

My observation was that Bingham comes on at dusk since there were no aircraft observed in the skies and waiting (about a half hour) produced no sound from smaller aircraft in the area.

Then it was observed that not all turbines that were in close proximity of one another had lighting as a warning at all. 

One end of the Bingham project is nearly 11 miles away from the other end, so one would think that only the ones closest to the aircraft if small private would light up. But as observed from Hartland Maine it is clear that From Bingham to Kingsbury those that have lights all blink in unison as if triggered by a single signal after dusk.   

Comment by Art Brigades on April 19, 2018 at 2:03pm

Under its "best practical mitigation" standard, the DEP says it expects to require radar activated lighting as a condition on all new wind permits. This should be memorialized in the pending visual impact rules.  Better yet, with a new administration coming in less than a year, it should be put in statute. DEP says the technology has been installed at Passadumkeag, Bingham and Bull Hill, as it was a condition on the permits for those three projects.  

Also, while the author writes a compelling essay, power lines tend to be only about 100 feet tall, they tend to be erected in low areas / notches, and they don't gyrate or illuminate. The comparison with wind turbines is a stretch.

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."


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


(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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