PORTLAND – In a letter to the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission Monday, May 2, Highland Wind withdrew its application for a 117-megawatt wind energy facility in Highland Plantation, stating it intends to resubmit it at a later time. The application was submitted to LURC Dec. 29. Comments from government review agencies were received two weeks ago.
“We are confident in our ability to address the comments and questions raised by the reviewing agencies,” said Angus King, a partner in Highland Wind. “However, we need more time to assess concerns raised by a few state agencies, particularly comments from the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of Highland Wind, King also noted that Highland Wind did not want to be in a position, or put LURC in the position, of having to resolve these issues during or after a public hearing, making withdrawal the only prudent choice.
“Our goal is to develop a project that produces non-polluting energy for Maine and New England, is environmentally balanced, and treats local people fairly. We have invested three years in listening to feedback to ensure that this project meets or exceeds every legal requirement, so taking another few months to carefully evaluate these concerns is well worth the time,” he stated. King’s partner, Rob Gardiner, confirmed this approach. “We are not going for a speed record here, we just want to get it right,” he said.
The Highland Wind project is located entirely in the expedited permitting area outside the high mountain zone. The Dec. 29 submittal reflects the elimination of all nine turbines from Stewart Mountain to preserve views from the Appalachian Trail and the Bigelow Preserve.
Generating enough electricity to supply 45,000 homes, according to the developers, the project would displace 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide. It is offering an innovative Wind for Oil demonstration project, including $6,000 in energy efficiency grants to households in Highland Plantation and free electricity.
A spokesperson says that residents would see their property taxes drop by 80 percent, and would receive over $2 million in payments as part of the tangible benefits package. Over $1 million is also being set aside for conservation acquisitions in the Bigelow area.
“We have carefully designed this project to have a high energy output but avoid high mountain, sub-alpine habitat. We believe that two years of field research show environmental impacts to be less than or consistent with previously permitted wind projects, so we look forward to using the additional time to provide the documentation the agencies have requested,” said King.
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