A recent article in The Irregular (Feb. 14, 2007) reports that the Kingfield selectmen have voted to write a letter to LURC supporting the Kibby wind power project in the Boundary Mountains of northern Franklin County.
Interestingly, this decision seems to have been made after a visit by a TransCanada salesman to a single selectman – Selectman Dill – rather than to an open meeting of the entire board. Furthermore, apparently neither Mr. Dill nor the board ever bothered to contact opponents of the project either in Kingfield or elsewhere. This is a shame. There are good reasons to doubt that this wind plant will prove a benefit to our area. The turbines – 44 of them, each over 400 feet tall – will be spread across miles of wild (and very beautiful) mountain peaks and ridges, which, because they are above 2700 feet, are protected by zoning from development. To build its project, TransCanada must first persuade LURC that the public benefits of this plant outweigh the good reasons for which the zoning was established.
It is doubtful that TransCanada can make this case. The State of Maine decided to protect its high mountain areas because they were deemed to be an asset to the state as a whole – and not just an environmental asset, an economic asset. Our high mountains are part of what defines our state, of what draws people to us, and this will be increasingly true in the future; Maine is not just a pretty coast.
Kingfield Selectman McCurdy is reported to have justified his rather precipitous vote by stating: “Obviously, that one up there is in nobody’s back yard.” This is not true. People do live in and around the Boundary Mountains. And from another point of view, the protected areas of those mountains should be considered a valuable backyard that belongs to all of us.
Readers of The Irregular should be aware that there will be organized and vigorous opposition to TransCanada’s project. Friends of the Boundary Mountains, a group organized in 1995, which includes many concerned local people, will take the lead, supported by others. In the meantime I urge readers of the Irregular to keep an open mind about whether this wind plant will really benefit our area. Please don’t be swayed by sales promises until you really understand them. As everyone knows – or should know – the devil is often in the details when one is dealing with developers who want to gain access to resources.
Dain Trafton is a resident of Phillips and a member of Friends of the Western Mountains.
The Original Irregular
21 February 2007
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