BANGOR, Maine – The potential impact of the proposed Bowers Mountain industrial wind site on the Canada lynx and three species of bat absorbed much of the testimony Wednesday morning at a hearing of the Land Use Regulation Commission.
Professional guide David Corrigan adopted an attorneylike stance when questioning a scenic consultant and state wildlife officials about the $136 million project’s effect on 700 acres on Bowers Mountain, about 10 miles east of Lee in Carroll Plantation and Kossuth Township.
Under Corrigan’s brisk cross-examination, Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife regional biologist Mark A. Caron admitted that state surveys of migration patterns of the lynx, which federal officials list as a threatened species, were somewhat lacking in the Kossuth region.
But it was a cross-examination by Juliet T. Browne, attorney for project backer Champlain Wind LLC, a subsidiary of First Wind, that might have helped Corrigan’s case when her questions led to an admission from scenic consultant James Palmer that wildlife guides might lose customers if the project gets built.
“The guides may be dependent on a type of customer that is more sensitive [to the presence of wind turbines]. In that respect, I have to agree with Mr. Corrigan that they have more experience with their customers than I do,” said Palmer, who was hired to advise LURC on the project’s impact on the mountain area. “I don’t have any real knowledge of that particular gentleman user and whether he is shrinking rapidly or static or whatever.”
“That would be information that would be nice to have, but we don’t,” Palmer added.
The project, on top of the 1,127-foot Bowers Mountain, would have a maximum energy output of 57 megawatts.
The proposed project is located within the area designated for expedited permitting.
The project is the latest of several wind sites operating, under construction or proposed in Maine. An industry group, Wind Power for Maine, says 195 turbines have been constructed and are under contract in Maine.
Groups opposed to large-scale wind projects, meanwhile, continue to push for more stringent regulation of such projects. The opponents argue that the projects disrupt wildlife, have an adverse impact on residents and the natural settings in which they are built, typically generate too small a fraction of their capacity, and require too much federal and state funding to be worth building.
Testimony was expected to continue into the afternoon.
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