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State seeks wind farm comments

State regulators are soliciting public comments on new rules that will speed up the approval process for siting large wind farms throughout much of Maine.

The new rules, which are based on legislation approved earlier this year by both the Legislature and Gov. John Baldacci, streamline the regulatory process by identifying areas as appropriate for wind-energy projects.

That means developers will not need to go through the re-zoning process for those projects. Developers still would be required to receive all other permits from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection or the Land Use Regulation Commission.

The rules seek to remove some of the controversy over the siting of wind farms by steering wind-energy facilities away from highly scenic or wilderness areas. Regulators still must consider a proposed wind farm’s effects on local communities, wildlife and the environment during an expedited review.

LURC is accepting public comments on the rules through July 18. Because the rules already have been enacted by the Legislature, however, it would likely take legislative action to make some changes based on those comments.

A full copy of the LURC rules are available online at http://www.maine.gov/doc/lurc.

Comments can be e-mailed to fred.todd@maine.gov or sent to Frederick W. Todd, Land Use Regulation Commission, Department of Conservation, 22 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0022.

By Kevin Miller

Bangor Daily News

17 June 2008