Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wind Farm Expansion Supported

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.

3 comments:

  1. We want jobs but yet we oppose green energy projects- GO FIGURE!!!
    I am sure that there were people against the REA[rural electrification] back in the days of no electricity. Those people also bought shares in companies that produced "buggy whips" as well "oil lamps".
    Folks in Maine need to wake-up and realize that change is a constant and you either plan for the future or plan to fail- GET IT???????????

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  2. I spent 20 Plus years in Pulp and Paper Buisness listening to the Hurrendous Rumble of energy production.
    I Moved into Rural Maine to escape and retire in peace and quiet.
    Life is Good!
    Now come the Greedy Capatilist with Plans to Disrupt / Litter the country side with these monstrosities.
    Why? So your kids can sit mesmorized by the boob tube playing their mindless video games?
    So you can toast the top of your Muffin in your Electric Toaster?
    So your electric alarm clock can wake you up because you stayed up all night watching the BOOB TUBE?
    Opps! Sorry, High Def, BOOB TUBE

    When Will You People Understand.

    Simple is Good!

    Sophisticated is defined as
    (Lacking The Privledge of Being Simple.)

    Who Needs Light Bulbs?
    God Gave us Light, it runs from Dawn To Dusk.

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  3. I come originally from a pristine mountain community in the Tehachapi range of central california. They built a windfarm there. None of the power benefitted the local community, it all went to a big city in the south. No jobs went to locals after the initial "temp" positions. But our beautiful mountains were destroyed. Our quiet country life had this new glittering, humming, thumping forest of windmills where once stands of western pines dominated.

    I am not against green energy, my home is powered with a 3.5 kw grid-tied PV system. But windmills are not necessarily "Green", you see, wind energy is EXTREMELY fickle, unlike solar the wind does not rise everyday like the sun, sometimes it blows and sometimes it don't. Because of its unreliability it does not "save" carbon emmisssions, because the energy is undependable grid suppliers still have to keep up pre wind levels to assure the grid is supported.

    IF YOU CUT DOWN SO MUCH AS A SINGLE TREE YOU HAVE CEASED TO BE GREEN. Because trees DO remove carbon and other VOCs from the air.

    If you wanted to reverse global warming, the best approach would be make every home solar grid tied, Geothermal heated, and PLANT TREES.

    The first entry on this forum states that we need to "GET IT!!!" You my good sir are an uninformed idiot. It is precisely this type of thinking that got us in the veryreal trouble we are in today. If I may encourage you to "SHUT IT" thank you.

    ANY project that destroys the land it sits on and purports itself to be "Green" is lying, obviously, electric cars ARE NOT the answer (what are you goin to DO with the heavy metals from a billion electric cars?)

    We can no longer think as industrialists do, it IS the industrial revolution itself that has us bent over this barrel.

    Time for a "New" revolution, true, But it CANNOT be industrial in nature.

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