First Wind, the Boston-based wind power developer, said Tuesday it will appeal the latest rejection of its Bowers Mountain turbine project.
The Maine Board of Environmental Protection last month upheld the Department of Environmental Protection’s 2013 rejection of the Bowers Mountain project. First Wind’s appeal of the BEP action will now be heard by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
The DEP had determined that the installation of the 16-turbine project would have created a negative scenic impact on lakes near the site, which is located in Carroll Plantation and Kossuth Township in Penobscot County.
“First Wind believes that the Bowers Wind project met the state standards,” said Matt Kearns, vice president of business development for the company, which is the biggest wind power developer in Maine. He also said First Wind had already scaled back the scope of the project, which had initially called for 27 turbines, in 2012.
Kearns said the process of getting approval for the $100 million project does not yet threaten a power purchasing agreement with Narragansett Electric in Rhode Island. Bowers Mountain is rated at 48 megawatts. When running at its maximum capacity, the wind farm could generate the electricity used by 22,000 average New England homes.
The BEP decision was lauded by the Partnership for the Preservation of Downeast Lakes Watershed, which said the project would have “seriously damaged the scenic value of nine lakes” in the region.
In its ruling, the DEP basically approved 29 of 30 benchmarks that First Wind had to hit to win a permit, such as impact to wetlands and birds. But the agency balked at the scenic impact standard.
Bowers Mountain is in a region that includes Grand Lake Stream and a chain of lakes that attract sportsmen from around the country.
Guides, some camp owners and others opposed the idea of turbine towers with flashing lights, visible from far-off ridges.
In the project’s latest configuration, each turbine tower would stand 450 feet tall from the ground to the blade tip.
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