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Bingham Wind Project to seek expedited wind permitting towards the end of March  

Credit:  Bangor Daily News | March 14, 2013 | bangordailynews.com ~~

The “Bingham Wind Project” is seeking expedited wind permitting from the DEP towards the end of March, 2013 and have begun notifying a few residents of their intention to do so. This is a massive wind project that consists of 63 turbines 500 feet tall, 15 miles of transmission lines which are 7 stories tall and will run thru Mayfield Township, Kingsbury Plantation, Moscow, Abbot, Parkman, and Bingham. The wind turbines have a life expectancy of only 20 years, then who knows what will become of them. This would definitely alter the skyline as we know it and affect our quality of life.

The permit proposal is on public display in the town offices of Bingham, Abbot, Moscow, Dover-Foxcroft, and Parkman.

Local concerns:

Do you hunt, fish, hike the AT or in the Maine woods, enjoy the mountain views, ski, snowmobile, like the view from your house, or drive thru our beautiful Maine woods in Somerset or southwest Piscataquis Counties? If so, you need to be aware of this project as this could affect you.

Economic concerns:

1) The area proposed is a mecca for eco-tourism. As many people summer here to enjoy the wildlife and the scenery, there is a large boon to local small business and a large increase in gross revenue in hunting season as well. Most small businesses in this area experience a as much as a 100 % increase in gross revenue during hunting season and the summer months. Why? Because many of people live here in the summer in Kingsbury Plantation, Bingham, Abbot, Monson and other areas of impact. They do not summer here to see 500 foot windmills on our highland mountains or to see 7 story high transmission lines through our woods. Eco-tourism is very important to this area. What about the many river guides down the Penobscot River, hunters and hunting guides, leaf peeping tours, and the myriad of shops that support them. These summer residents should not be discounted as they bring out of state money into the area and provide a boon to small businesses of all walks of life after all they need food, pay property taxes, and buy local goods; therefore, they should not be discounted. This would be one of the largest wind projects in the state of Maine, wiping out the beauty of this area so why would they come here and enjoy rafting, fishing, hunting, relaxing, hiking, etc.

2) Industrialized wind farms will also make the area less appealing to construction of new homes and decreased tourism decreases the probability of new small business construction, and in this economic climate even a slight drop in construction over the next 5 years would lead to a significant hardship and economic impact in these relatively poor counties. Do you really think $ 20,000 / year (not even guaranteed by First Wind, but “promised”) per impacted community will offset the decrease in jobs and ipso facto more reliance on government aide such as food stamps, Mainecare, etc.

3) The decrease of tourism to the area will decrease toll revenue along the 95 corridor and decrease sales and use tax revenue for the area.

4) Although First Wind will initially bring some construction jobs to the area for 6-12 months, the impact on eco-tourism will be felt for decades to come and likely result in a net loss to jobs in Somerset and Piscataquis counties.

5) Property values within sight of the 500 foot windmills prominently displayed on the highland mountains (aka can be seen for miles) as well as the exceptionally high 7 story transmission lines will decrease. This leads to a decrease in property taxes for the areas affected by this large project.

6) The majority of the funding for this project comes from government funding, which each taxpayer has to carry the burden. With the wealth disparity arguably those who will feel the brunt of funding this project will be the middle class and with the deficit, our children will have to pay for years to come.

7) Revenues will likely be mostly diverted away from the state of Maine to the state of Massachusetts adding more insult to injury.

Environmental Concerns:

1) A considerable amount of terraforming of the landscape would have to be done for this project such as blasting mountains, perpetual clear cutting of areas, crossing of wetland habitat and multiple streams. Much of the work to make the project viable would be comparable to strip mining given the amount of terraforming that would need to be done to accomidate both the heavy machinery for construction and maintaining the massive wind farm but also in its operations. Given the large amount of run-off by snow melts every spring such environmental impact will be more than just a blight. Soil erosion and stream contamination of soil would disrupt the clear waters of Maine and the fisheries. There are countless fish endangered and threatened that could not handle such a change in increasing the soil ppm in the rivers and streams. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency not to mention the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has spent decades trying to reduce soil contamination in streams to facilitate healthy water supplies for both people and wildlife.

2) This project goes very close to the Appalachian trail. What impact will this have on one of the most nationally treasured historical trails and not to mention the most preserved part of the Appalachian trail.

Wildlife Concerns:

1) There are several species that need to be protected which thrive in this area of the proposed development. The noise and size of the project crossing many habitats that would not make it conducive to wind power generation. Many of these species potentially have life saving properties and have not been thoroughly studied and to eradicate them could be detrimental to human and animal welfare. Almost all medicines come from studying plants and animals some examples are curare which comes from a South American toad, essential for ocular surgery or the willow tree in which aspirin comes from. Let alone the enjoyment of future generations to see these species in their native habitat.

2) Spring salamander and the Roaring Brook Mayfly which are on the state endangered species list have been spotted in the proposed route. Both of these species have not been extensively studied and could prove to have medicinal value, not to mention generations to come should be able to enjoy these species. The Bingham project is not far from the Highland Plantation Project, LLC where in a May, 2011 report the Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commented that the Highland Wind Project was not conductive to intensive wind power development due to these two endangered species. First Wind’s Bingham Project is considerably larger than the Highland Plantation Project and given the fact that these species are in the area it bears careful consideration.

3) On the federal endangered species list, the grey wolf and Canadian Lynx have been spotted in the area both of which require large areas to roam and hunt. They shun built up areas and a wind farm of this magnitude would certainly disrupt their fragile habitat. They are not often seen, but that is because they are endangered. I had the luck of seeing a grey wolf in the Kingbury Plantation region.

4) With the fact that the windmills generate a fair amount of noise (heard almost 2 miles away) and is 500 feet tall, the noise interferes with the migratory pattern of bats and the noise and height as well as terrain modifications would interfere with the Atlantic migratory pattern of birds also mentioned in the May, 2011 Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife report. Many people come to this region to see the wildlife of Maine and this area is lush with game and birds which come to the Maine Highlands to spend the summers.

Other Considerations:

1) What is the economic benefit to Maine when this is not a Maine corporation, our state and federal government are giving them huge monetary sums to complete a project that could be done in an area that has fewer issues and as a people in lackluster economy and massive deficit, is it worth the cost to the taxpayers to carry the burden.

2) What will be the real cost long term, when our natural habitats are destroyed and/or diminished and the wind generators go offline as they only have a life expectancy of 20 years.

3) Maine grew by a mere 40,000 people from 2000 – 2010 based on the US Census data. Will an eyesore on our land encourage growth to this region, I think not. Will it help economically, no. Ecologically, no. We already are one of the greenest energy producers in the nation and doubtful that our energy demand will go up with essentially 0 growth in population and greater energy conservation.

4) What are the health implications of the transmission lines giving off EMF frequencies on wildlife and people. I could point to studies that say there is a significant impact as well as no impact. The fact of the matter is the health implications other than sleep disruption of those living near wind farms are inconclusive. Look at the history channel or research on how “benign” nuclear energy was in the 1930-1940 studies and what we know now.

5) Belgium studies have shown a huge disappointment in how much wind power can actually generate on their grand wind project. Let’s consider for the greater good of Maine and its resources. Not to mention our quality of life in the highlands of Maine.

6) I doubt anyone would argue that some wind energy is a good thing; however, the environmental, socio-economic, and long-term impacts require further study.

7) We already have many wind farms in this state. Most of which generate more complaints than electricity. Examining them in a 20 year study of the health, socio-economic impact, impact on wildlife, tourism, and the economy would be prudent.

Concerns should be sent to Daniel.Courtemanch@maine.gov and BinghamWindProject.DEP@maine.gov E-mails with concerns about the project should be followed up on in writing to: Dan Courtemanch; 17 State House Sta.; Augusta, ME 04333 (287-3901) prior to the end of March.

This post was contributed by a community member.

Source:  Bangor Daily News | March 14, 2013 | bangordailynews.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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