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After Redington: We need a windpower siting study  

The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission made the correct decision in voting six-to-one to oppose their staff’s recommendation to rezone Reddington and Black Nubble mountains. The rezoning request by Endless Energy of Yarmouth has faced serious opposition since it was first proposed 12 years ago.

In the absence of a statewide comprehensive siting study, the commissioners had no other choice but denial. If the commissioners had voted to approve the staff recommendation for this poorly sited project, then they would have had no choice in the future but to approve any and all rezoning applications in the unorganized territories.

The Baldacci administration and the previous King administration have known for many years that Maine needs a wind power siting study. To try to plan for Maine’s future sustainable energy needs without a comprehensive siting study is lunacy. A wind power siting study, modeled on the Maine Rivers Study done in 1982, would give both the developers and the policy makers some assurance of success in future decisions.

The Baldacci administration and the previous King administration have known for many years that Maine needs a wind power siting study. To try to plan for Maine’s future sustainable energy needs without a comprehensive siting study is lunacy. A wind power siting study, modeled on the Maine Rivers Study done in 1982, would give both the developers and the policy makers some assurance of success in future decisions.

Last October, Dr. David Publicover of the Appalachian Mountain Club made a presentation at the Maine Mountain Conference titled “Balancing Wind Power Development and Conservation in the Mountains of Maine.” Publicover identified 200 miles of windy ridgeline as suitable industrial wind power development sites. At 10-20 megawatts per mile that means there are potentially 2,000-4,000 megawatts of non-controversial wind power sites in Maine. Mars Hill, currently the largest industrial “wind farm” in New England, is just 42 megawatts.

Lately the Mars Hill project has been in the news because of public concerns over noise and wildlife disruption. Additionally it is likely that the power generated at Mars Hill is going to Canada. With taxpayer-financed subsidies and tax credits available to wind power developers, the potential profits are too lucrative to rely on the private sector to make sound decisions for the state of Maine.

It is imperative that Maine develop siting criteria and development guidelines to judge future industrial wind power project applications. With the political will it can be done; the 1982 Maine Rivers Study, conducted to determine the resource values and appropriate management approaches for Maine’s rivers, set a strong precedent. Maine policymakers need to see Publicover’s presentation, study the issue and then regulate suitable locations for industrial wind power in Maine.

At a time when dams are being removed from Maine rivers, because we now realize the environmental costs, no one advocates the costs are worth the hydro power. Why then should we accept that the environmental costs of wind power are necessary to save the planet from global warming? We should not burden future generations with the task of removing “wind farms” that have been badly sited. Endless Energy already has a non-operational windmill for sale in Orland.

Yes, the world is changing but not as quickly as we think. Global warming has been ignored since the 1950’s and it needs a global solution. Nationally, the United States should face the grave concerns of our collective overuse of energy. Energy conservation, nationally, personally and in Maine, should become a large part of the solution.

Wind power potential in the mountains of Maine is only a fraction of the wind power potential just offshore from the 2500 miles of Maine coastline. Any wind power siting study done for Maine should acknowledge and explore this fact.

Rep. Tom Saviello of Wilton has submitted a bill, An Act To Determine The Most Appropriate Sites For Windpower Facilities, that calls upon the legislature to commission a wind power siting study for Maine.

Let’s slow down the “gold rush” mentality surrounding wind power in Maine and take a few months to deliberate sound and thoughtful solutions.

By Richard Fecteau
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel
Sunday, February 11, 2007

Richard Fecteau of Farmington is a businessman and volunteers his time as the Bigelow District Overseer for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. He was co-chair of the 2006 Maine Mountain Conference held at Saddleback, Maine,

mainetoday.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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