February 1, 2013
Yesterday DEP hosted the Bowers Wind project "Pre-Hearing Conference" at their offices in Bangor. First Wind, the DEP folks, the Intervenors (including PPDLW), and the public were welcome. Kay and I represented PPDLW in an official capacity with members Wally & Mary Lindahl and Don & Paula Moore attending as well. Intervenor David Corrigan was there too. You'll remember David for the excellent job he did presenting wildlife, aquifer and cumulative impact concerns during the Bowers-1 proceedings. The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Maine Renewable Energy Association(MREA) both of whom support all
wind projects will also be Intervenors. Interestingly, NRCM did not apply for Intervenor status this time around.
Everyone agreed on a schedule for the Public Hearing. Assuming DEP can rent an appropriate venue, the schedule looks like this:
|Tuesday, April 30
||8:30 - 5:30
||Hearing Day #1
||7:00 - 9:00
||Public Comment Session
|Wednesday, May 1
||8:30 - 5:30
||Hearing Day #2
||7:00 - 9:00
||Public Comment Session (if necessary)
|Deadline for Final Decision
||Monday, July 22, 2013
For now, the times are tentative. The daytime sessions will consist of the presentation of oral testimony by First Wind and the Intervenors followed by questions and cross-examination. The public is invited to attend though they will not be allowed to talk. The evening sessions are entirely devoted to public testimony. Initially DEP planned on having only one evening for public comments, but when they heard how many of you showed up at the Bowers-1 hearing, they said they will hold a second evening session if needed.
The hearing location has not been determined yet. Initially it was suggested that Bangor is close enough to the project that it would be a good location. We protested that to hold it in Bangor would not be fair to the residents of the project area and that it would limit public comment. The Hearing Officer, DEP's Deputy Commissioner John Silvestri, agreed. If DEP can find an appropriate facility in Springfield, Lee or Lincoln, then the evening sessions, and possibly the day sessions, will be held there. If you know of a facility in the area that might be appropriate, please let me know and I'll pass it along.
Mr. Silvestri and all the DEP staff were very friendly and helpful. I came away convinced that if we treat them like professionals, like friends instead of enemies, we will be doing ourselves a favor. In both your written and oral testimony, I ask that you regard DEP as our ally and give them the information they need to justify denying the Bowers Wind project. LETTERS... THE TIME HAS COME!
The public is allowed to submit written comments on the application at any time from now until April 30, 2013. Every letter or email you send will become part of the official record and will be read by DEP prior to reaching a decision. There is no limit to the number of times you can write. They say that this is not a numbers game. But I can assure you that it DOES make a strong impression when they hear from hundreds of people who know and love the area. Particularly powerful will be the letters from professional Guides, Sporting Camp owners, children's camps... anyone who depends on the wilderness character of the Downeast Lakes Region for a living. If you have family and friends who also love visiting the Downeast Lakes Region, please ask them to write as well. People from away are the lifeblood of our local economy and their opinions matter.
I'm not going to tell you what to write. However, the most effective letters will be those that stick to the legal statutes that DEP must apply in making their decision. Nine lakes within eight miles of the proposed project (Bottle, Duck, Junior, Keg, Pleasant, Pug (part of West Grand Lake), Scraggly, Shaw and Sysladobsis) are so important to the State of Maine that they were designed Scenic Resources of State Significance. In your letters, focus on these lakes.
- Do you believe these lakes have special scenic character?
- How do you use the lakes (swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, boating, ice fishing, snowshoeing, etc)?
- Do you ever visit more than one of these lakes in an outing?
- How important is the scenic character of these lakes to your enjoyment of them now?
- If it's built, would the Bowers Wind project change the scenic character of these lakes and the surrounding area?
- How do you think the sight of 460' tall wind turbines would affect your use and enjoyment of the lakes?
- Do you have friends and family who visit the lakes? Do you think wind turbines would affect how often they visit the lakes?
- If you have a business in the area, how do you think it would be affected by the Bowers Wind Project?
- Do you enjoy watching wildlife and birds? What kind of wildlife and birds have you seen on the lakes? Mention the lakes where you saw the wildlife.
What topics should be avoided? The Maine Wind Act opens with a declaration that wind energy WILL provide tangible benefits to the State's environment and economy; it WILL increase energy independence; it WILL reduce greenhouse gases and it WILL help address global warming. Therefore, if you write about any of these topics you will be wasting your time. DEP is prohibited from debating these issues.
Here's where to write:
If possible, it would be helpful if you would send a copy to Kay@ppdlw.org so we can reference it in PPDLW's testimony.
IN THE NEWS How long has it been since you visited the PPDLW website? We spend a lot of time scouring the media for articles relevant to the Downeast Lakes and the Bowers project. We do the work so you don't have to! Have a look at http://www.ppdlw.org/news.htm..