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State officials: Deny mountain wind project

State officials are recommending the Board of Environmental Protection to deny a proposal to build a $100 million, 16-turbine wind energy facility on a Penobscot County mountain.

The Bangor Daily News reported the BEP is expected to decide on First Wind’s project at 9 a.m. Thursday. A 12-page memo released this month from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has recommended a denial of the project, saying it will have an adverse and widespread impact on the area’s scenic qualities.

“We believe that they did not meet the standard for scenic criteria. We believe that the project would have represented an unreasonable adverse impact to scenic character and existing uses related to that,” Mark Bergeron, a DEP staffer who co-authored the memo, told the newspaper. “That’s what we based everything on.”

This is the second time Massachusetts-based First Wind has proposed a wind project for Bowers Mountain, located in Carroll Plantation and Kossuth Township and surrounded by eight lakes. The first project, a 27-turbine facility proposed for the same location, was denied by the Land Use Regulation Commission in April 2012 for similar reasons.

First Wind’s second project is backed by The Conservation Law Foundation, Maine chapter of the Sierra Club, Maine Audubon Society, Environment Maine, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Maine ATV Association and Maine Snowmobile Association, along with surrounding landowners, according to the wind company’s project director, Neil Kiely.

“The only issue in this case is the visual impact issue,” Kiely told the BDN. “Obviously, this has the potential to be a subjective standard, but the host community supports the project, and they have the unique experience of living within sight of turbines [at another project nearby].”