Unfortunately, I will be out of town on Friday when the EUT Committee has re-scheduled the hearing on LD 1810. That is unfortunate, as I was looking forward to personally testifying. As you may know, I am a confirmed candidate for election to fill the open seat for Maine House of Representatives in District 28, part of Scarborough. When elected, the repeal of the heinous "Wind Energy Act" (PL 661) will be of highest priority. I am looking forward to support from fellow opponents of the industrial wind scam in Maine. I will soon have a campaign website. The link to my campaign Face Book Page is:
March 14, 2018
To the members of the Energy Utilities and Technology Committee:
I am here to testify in favor of LD 1810, in spite of criticisms I have of the proposed legislation. I have been a citizen active in the issues of grid scale or as I refer to it “industrial” wind power siting for nine years, since the Rollins Wind project in Lincoln, Lee, Winn and Burlington was proposed as the first project of its kind after the passage of LD 2282 in 2008. I was co-founder of Friends of Lincoln Lakes and joined others around the state to create the Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power, serving in leadership roles with the organization. I am a member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Maine's Mountains.
The major reasons I favor this bill are striking out of the majority of the arbitrarily selected municipalities and townships that were included in the "expedited permitting area" and the change of visual impact to 40 miles.
The problem I have regarding this bill is simply that it does not go far enough. If we are to change the "expedited permitting area" , it should be eliminated completely. There is no rationale for keeping the areas of Aroostook County under the designation that industrial wind sites are ordained as approved forms of development that is not rebuttable any more than the rest of the state. What is fair for the western mountains or Moosehead regions should be fair for the ridges of northeastern Maine as well. Indeed, many of Maine's finest lakes and designated scenic resources of state or national significance (SRSNS) such as Baxter State park can be impacted negatively by wind power sites developed under the rush of the expedited process. The expedited process came into being in a nefarious, arbitrary way, not subject to any public knowledge or input as shown in the hand out provided to the committee regarding Alec Giffen's email.
Nearly every industrial wind power proposal has been met with opposition from the local people who cherish their region's natural and scenic resources. Indeed, due to local control in Maine, 49 municipalities have adopted restrictive ordinances regarding large scale wind power siting. When given the opportunity in 2017 to opt out of the "expedited permitting area", 41 Unorganized Territories and Plantations where people live opted to be removed from this designation. In view of this opposition by citizens of rural Maine, the EUT should amend this bill to remove the language in PL 661 that confers any expedition of wind power permitting process. The egregious preference provided to the wind industry must end and any application for wind power siting must proceed as any other development proposal in Maine.
LD 2283, which was enacted as PL 661, was a hastily assembled piece of legislation written for and with undue input from the wind energy industry and their allies. It was rammed through as “emergency” legislation in the waning days of the 123rd Maine State Legislature in the bare minimum amount of time and with virtually no opportunity for either the Legislators or the general public to understand or discuss the legislation. This is shown in the timeline that is the other hand out to the committee. The statute is poor public policy. Every emergency clause and every “finding” of the legislature contained in LD 2283 has been refuted as either an outright lie or misrepresentation or the changing conditions in the past ten years have rendered them irrelevant. It is time for the Legislature of Maine to stop pushing the special interest of the wind energy industry and have the industry exist or fail on its merits while being treated the same as any other industry proposing development in Maine.
The other problem with LD 1810 is the extension of the scenic impact on SRSNS to 40 miles, which is LD 1810 Testimony, p 2.
meaningless unless the state substantially tightens the definition of language that is already in the statute in a way that protects the SRSNS in the public interest rather than being a low hurdle to approval by the DEP or BEP. In the last ten years, based on a seeming bias that the statute favors the development of wind power sites, decisions, condemned Maine's natural and scenic resources to be forever ruined based on subjective appraisals and flawed user intercept surveys.
Here are several examples:
In Woodstock and Sumner, the State of Maine purchased land around Bald Mountain and Speckled Mountain to bank for future state park development, within an hour's drive of the state's second largest urban area, Lewiston/Auburn. The decision to approve the Spruce Mountain Wind project just 3 miles away from the scenic viewpoint of Bald Mountain did not even consider the state's parcel of land as a SRSNS!
Mt. Blue State Park in Weld has a popular parcel known as Center Hill that is considered one of the most scenic views of Maine's magnificent mountains, accessible to everyone due to the road, not just for hikers. Now the view across Webb Lake is marred by the wind turbines on Saddleback Ridge in Carthage, and beyond, the wind turbines on Spruce Mountain. The jarring intrusion of these ridge top machines was appraised as low to moderate scenic impact by a moonlighting college professor James Palmer of Vermont. I challenge each one of the EUT Committee members to drive to Center Hill at Mt. Blue State Park and see how wrong was the conclusion of this “scenic consultant”.
Seven and a half miles of ridges above the Lincoln Lakes were carpeted with 40 turbines, including ridges that are to the northwest above Saponic Pond, which is included in "Maine Wildlands Lakes Assessment" published by the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission in June 1987. In determining the scenic impact of the Passadumkeag Mt. Wind project located to the south of Saponic Pond, then DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho and pertinent staff actually toured the region and DEP denied the
permit based on the cumulative impact of the two industrial wind sites on Saponic Pond. Seemingly an appropriate application of the statute, this denial was overturned by the BEP.
I can fill pages of egregious findings, process failures and subjective misapplications of the statutory language regarding the impacts of industrial wind power siting on Maine's natural and scenic resources. If one reviews the original language, there are laudatory references to protecting all those special qualities of Maine. Yet the DEP has failed to protect the environment of Maine by essentially interpreting that the mandate that wind power development is an allowable use overrides all concern for the environment. The Legislature has been presented with dozens of bills seeking to modify the heinous PL 661 but to no avail as Legislative leadership continues to kowtow to the special interest of the wind industry rather than listen to the voice of the people in the impacted parts of the state.
This has to end. Will we ruin our environmental legacy by destroying hundreds of miles of uplands for a pathetically weak, environmentally degrading, and horrendously intrusive source of electricity that Maine doesn't even need, given that our state already produces far more electricity than we consume? Will we ruin our opportunities for increased tourism inland away from the coast, particularly our unique in the eastern USA eco-tourism, by allowing our state to become a wind turbine plantation for southern New England? Will we protect the integrity of Maine's natural and scenic resources and rural property values from the scourge of high-impact low-productivity wind power sites that sends a pathetically fickle trickle of electricity into the New England grid with nothing to gain for our state?
LD 1810 Testimony, p 3.
Committee members, recommending “ought to pass” for LD 1810 is a start. Pulling the plug on the state's special treatment for the wind power industry and repealing PL 661 must be the next step.
Bradbury D. Blake
3 Hearn Rd.
Scarborough, Maine 04074