Maine Mountain Power formally filed a revised proposal with the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission on Tuesday, July 10. The proposal is to develop a 54-megawatt, 18-turbine wind power project on Black Nubble Mountain near Sugarloaf/USA and MMP has jointly announced with the Natural Resource Council of Maine an agreement to permanently restrict wind power development on nearby Redington Pond Range.
According to a MMP release, if the Black Nubble Wind Farm is approved and built, a restrictive covenant will prohibit the development of wind power on the last undeveloped and unprotected 4,000-foot peak in Maine.
“The Black Nubble proposal will provide clean energy, reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, and protect Redington Mountain from wind development,” said NCRM Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim after the LURC decision to offer a limited re-opening of the proposal. “The broad show of support here today demonstrates that the Black Nubble project strikes the right balance -– a balance that reflects the broad interests of Maine people in increasing renewable energy and conserving special places.”
The latest proposal by MMP comes after LURC rejected a 30-turbine proposal that included 12 turbines on Redington Mountain Range and Black Nubble. LURC rejected the proposal by a 6 to 1 vote close to five months ago.
At the Public Hearing before the commissioners’ vote, NCRM had made a pitch for MMP to consider a Black Nubble only project. At that time MMP rejected that suggestion stating that the idea was economically unviable. MMP has since reconsidered.
The Public Hearing for the latest proposal is tentatively scheduled for sometime this fall.
“This new proposal is intended to respect the views of those who felt the wind power project was too close to the Appalachian Trail and would intrude on wildlife habitat,” said Harley Lee of Maine Mountain Power.
“The Black Nubble project proposes fewer turbines located further away from the trail. It preserves the unfragmented area between Saddleback and the Bigelow Range, which was a major concern during the hearings last year. But the project will produce a significant amount of clean, renewable electrical power for Maine consumers,” Lee added. The NCRM’s support is not necessarily backed by other environmental groups. It is reported that the Maine Audubon, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the National Park Service and the Friends of the Western Mountains as well as others oppose the scaled back version.
Intervenors opposed to the requested record reopening asked that the commission act on the original proposal covering Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain instead of allowing a reopening of the hearing after the record has closed and the commissioners directed the staff to prepare a denial decision for the commission to consider. The commissioners have recently decided to reopen a limited portion of the public record.
“These intervenors stated the view that if a reopening were to be permitted, the process would be confusing and time-consuming because the information on the Black Nubble Mountain site would be difficult to separate from the Redington site, since the testimony and documents are not distinct from one another,” according to Marcia Spencer Famous of LURC. “These intervenors stated the view that a Black Nubble-only proposal is a significantly different project requiring additional studies and extensive testimony.”
By David Hart
18 July 2007
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