BANGOR – Does a view of a wind turbine matter if there is no one there to see it?
In some cases, yes, the state Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) decided Sept. 7.
At its monthly meeting last week, the LURC clarified its guidelines for assessing the scenic impact of wind energy projects on remote and inaccessible areas.
The discussion came as the board prepares to issue a decision on the Bull Hill Wind Project proposed in Township 16, which borders Eastbrook, on Oct. 5.
Blue Sky East LLC, a subsidiary of First Wind, has applied for a permit to erect nineteen 476-foot turbines on Bull Hill and Heifer Hill ridges. The wind development would have a total potential output of 34 megawatts.
During previous deliberations on the project, LURC commissioners questioned whether there might be a conflict between the LURC Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the Wind Energy Act in regard to assessing scenic impact.
The Wind Energy Act’s language on scenic impact has often been interpreted to mean that a natural area with low public use would experience less of a scenic impact from wind development than areas with many visitors.
The LURC land use plan, on the other hand, places a high value on some remote and inaccessible areas in the state.
LURC Planner Fred Todd suggested the two sets of guidelines could be reconciled if the number of users was assessed differently depending on how the area was zoned.
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