Monday, December 7, 2009
By Nick Sambides Jr.
LINCOLN, Maine — A state law fast-tracking wind-to-energy projects is unconstitutional, and the state’s own peer reviewer admitted that state methods for reviewing project noise is flawed, an attorney opposing the $130 million Rollins Mountain wind farm argues in a brief submitted to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Representing the Friends of Lincoln Lakes residents group, attorney Lynne Williams, of Bar Harbor, claimed that the Board of Environmental Protection, which oversees the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, had no business approving the proposed 60-megawatt industrial wind site on Rollins Mountain.
In her 27-page brief, Williams cited notes from an internal conference call at DEP in March, which she acquired as she prepared the group’s appeal, in which the DEP’s own peer reviewer stated that he “has issues with [the] model being used.”
“Currently it’s based on industrial noise, not wind power noise,” the reviewer states, adding that “[w]e haven’t been able to determine whether this model is accurate for wind turbines,” Williams wrote in her appeal.
The reviewer also stated that “wind turbine noise needs more investigation,” Williams wrote.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued First Wind of Massachusetts a permit for the Rollins Mountain project in April, Williams said, despite the reviewer never reconciling his expressed concerns with his ultimate approval of the project.
The Rollins Mountain project is a 40-turbine industrial wind site proposed for the Rollins Mountain ridgelines in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn.
Proponents have praised First Wind as a conscientious creator of wind power, saying the Lincoln Lakes project would create as much as 60 megawatts of pollution-free electricity in peak winds.
The friends group contends the turbines would lower land values and threaten human and animal health with light flicker and low-decibel sound; disrupt the pastoral nature of Rollins; and typically generate a fraction of their capacity.
Under the state’s fast-track law, Williams said, the friends group’s appeal must go to the Law Court, a requirement she called unconstitutional, as it denies appellants the opportunity to appeal to lesser courts first.
Williams filed her brief with the state’s top court on Nov. 30. No review dates have been set.
The group’s second court action protests the Lincoln Board of Appeals’ refusal to hear the group’s appeal of a permit the Lincoln Planning Board issued to the proposed wind farm. That appeal also is pending.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Maine's utility commission today approved a 20-year electricity supply contract with First Wind, the first long-term contract the state has committed to since it deregulated the electricity industry in 2000.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission has reached a deal with First Wind Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Evergreen Wind Power III LLC, for electricity generated at the company's $130 million, 60-megawatt Rollins Mountain wind farm in Penobscot County, according to a press release from the PUC. No dollar figure can be attached to the contract until it is signed, which is expected to occur next week, Evelyn deFrees, a PUC spokesperson, told Mainebiz.
According to the contract, Central Maine Power Co. will receive 80% of the electricity and Bangor Hydro Electric will receive 20%. The deal will lower energy costs for consumers, increase renewable energy capacity and offset new transmission costs, according to the release. "The First Wind contract makes it possible for Maine ratepayers to gain energy supply cost benefits from a renewable energy resource, and the company gets the financial assurance the contract provides to become fully operational," said PUC Chair Sharon Reishus in the release. In a separate release, First Wind said the agreement "will provide protection against the fluctuating prices of power produced by fossil fuels."
This is the state's first long-term supply contract since deregulation in 2000, and since the Legislature gave approval to the PUC in 2006 to develop long-term energy contracts. The PUC issued a request for proposals for contracts in December 2008 and received the first proposals in April 2009, according to the release. The commission is still considering other proposals it has received, deFrees said.
Massachusetts-based First Wind operates wind farms in northern and Down East Maine under various Evergreen subsidiaries, and earlier this year received approval from the Department of Environmental Protection to build the Rollins Mountain wind farm, which is planned for ridgelines in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn. Construction is expected to start by the fall of 2010, and the farm will produce enough electricity to power about 23,000 homes, according to First Wind.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I personally feel as though the turbines will bring a bit of modernity to the town of Lincoln but I can also understand the grave concern of local landowners who willhave to deal with the sight and also the hum of the massive structures. (this is just my opinion)
I would rather have seen a large solar array constructed on the corner of rt 2 and the access road in that empty field, who owns that land anyway?
Monday, June 1, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Staff at the Land Use Regulation Commission is endorsing a 17-turbine wind power facility in northern Washington County near the town of Danforth.
The project by First Wind of Massachusetts would be an expansion of the company’s 38-turbine Stetson Mountain wind energy facility that began commercial operations earlier this year. Stetson II, as the new project is called, would be built in T8 R4 on Owl and Jimmey mountains north of Route 169.
Commissioners will take up the LURC staff recommendation this Wednesday. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at 1 p.m. at the Spectacular Event Center on Griffin Road in Bangor.
Also Wednesday, LURC is expected to post to public comment the draft implementing language for Plum Creek Timber Co.’s historic development and conservation plan for the Moosehead Lake region.
The Stetson II project, as proposed, would be rated to produce up to 25.5 megawatts of pollution-free energy at maximum capacity, although actual output will vary considerably depending on wind conditions. The estimated $60 million project would be built on commercial timberlands owned by Lakeville Shores, which also owns the land on which the first Stetson project was built.
Each of the turbines would stand nearly 390 feet tall from the base to the highest tip of the blades.
First Wind, which also built the Mars Hill wind farm in Aroostook County, has already purchased the 17 turbines and is storing them near the site. But the national economic turmoil is hitting wind energy projects hard, making it difficult for some projects to receive financing. The recently approved economic stimulus package contains money for “green energy” projects.
Matt Kearns, First Wind’s vice president of development for New England, declined to go into specifics in an interview Monday but said the company remains committed to completing Stetson II.
“We’re looking forward to building the project when we can,” Kearns said.
Stetson II is the first major wind power project to be processed under the state’s new expedited regulatory review system, which aims to streamline the approval process for projects located in areas deemed appropriate for the technology.
Under the expedited review process, would-be developers are still required to receive permits from LURC or the Department of Environmental Protection. However, the developers do not have to rezone the land or prove the project would fit harmoniously into the surrounding terrain.
The expedited review process, which was spearheaded by Gov. John Baldacci’s administration, is controversial among some who regard it as a way for the state to rush through industrial wind projects in rural Maine with minimal public involvement.
Critics also accuse the wind energy industry, including First Wind, of understating the impacts the 400-foot-tall turbines have on humans and wildlife.
First Wind also has submitted an application with the DEP to build a 40-turbine wind project on ridgelines in the communities of Lincoln, Lee, Winn, Burlington and Mattawamkeag. That project, known as Rollins Mountain, is still pending with regulators.
The Friends of Lincoln Lakes citizens group, which opposed the Rollins Mountain project, also opposes Stetson II, member Gary Steinberg said.
“We’re opposed to it. There hasn’t been a process with LURC. It’s been a ramrod,” Steinberg said, calling First Wind “a parasite on this whole area.”
The Friends group contends that turbines such as First Wind intends to install at Stetson II and on Rollins Mountain would threaten human and animal health, reduce land values with light flicker and low-decibel sound, are eyesores disruptive to the area’s natural beauty and typically generate a fraction of their capacity.
BDN writer Nick Sambides Jr. in Lincoln contributed to this report.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
LINCOLN - A 12,000-member nonprofit organization that describes itself as dedicated to protecting, restoring and conserving Maine's environment will be host of a forum on wind power at Mattanawcook Academy late this month, its spokeswoman said Thursday.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine hasn't yet taken a position on the proposed $130 million Rollins Mountain wind farm slated for ridgelines in Burlington, Lincoln, Lee and Winn, and the advocacy group's record on such facilities is mixed, spokeswoman Judy Berk said.
The council supported Rollins Mountain developer First Wind of Massachusetts' Stetson Mountain project, but opposed about half of the Redington Mountain wind project near Sugarloaf, Berk said.
"We are generally in support of appropriately sited wind power," Berk said Thursday.
The panel discussion is slated for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, at Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln. It is free and residents are invited.
It will feature Mainers who live in communities with wind power, have worked on wind power projects or are small-business owners that have direct experience with wind power development, said Emmie Theberge, a council employee organizing the forum.
"I think the forum will have a neutral point of view," Berk said. "It will inform people of what to expect from a wind farm, and how it might affect things like employment, the people in town."
First Wind wants to build 40 380-foot turbines, each generating 1.5 megawatts. Project proponents have praised First Wind as a conscientious creator of wind power, saying the Lincoln Lakes project would create as much as 60 megawatts of pollution-free electricity in peak winds.
Critics claim the project would threaten human and animal health on Rollins Mountain and would lower land values with light flicker and low-decibel sound while generating only a fraction of its peak capacity.
Lincoln's planning appeals board voted 4-2 last week to reject an appeal of a town permit given to the project. A residents group, The Friends of Lincoln Lakes, has said it will take its appeal to Superior Court.
The project also must be approved by several state and federal agencies and the three other towns. Those permits are pending.