March 6, 2013

Maine high court orders review of wind project decision

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network | 03/06/2013 |

The ruling follows a challenge to the Board of Environmental Protection’s decision to sign off an a nighttime night noise level of 45 decibels – higher than the limit the board itself had already approved.

The Maine Supreme Court has told the Maine Board of Environmental Protection to review its decision that led to approval of the Saddleback Ridge Wind Project in western Maine, a twelve-turbine, 33-megawatt wind energy project in the towns of Carthage, Canton and Dixfield.

The ruling follows an appeal to the high court by the Friends of Maine’s Mountains and others, challenging a decision by the BEP to sign off an a nighttime night noise level of 45 decibels, even though the board itself had already approved a lower limit.

In its decision the justices noted that BEP affirmed the 45 decibel noise level for the wind project five months after adopting the lower sound level limit, subject to legislative action.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Samantha Warren says the department is surprised by the court’s decision to apply a standard not yet legally in effect to a permitting decision.

“The precedent this sets is concerning to us,” Warren says. “But certainly the department will work with the parties and the board to process the remand per the court’s insturction in a timely and thoughtful manner.”

The lower limit eventually went into effect in June, 2012.

Developers say the court’s decision won’t have any impact on the Saddleback project, and they plan to comply with the lower noise limit.

This story was reported and written by Ed Morin.

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