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Wind power critics submit petitions to slow approval process for wind development in Unorganized territory

GREENVILLE, Maine – A group concerned about wind power development in the Greenville area is using a new state law to try to slow down the regulatory process for wind projects in unorganized territories.. The Moosehead Regions Future Committee submitted petitions with signatures to the state’s Land Use Planning Commission Monday afternoon from people living in a number of townships in the Moosehead Lake Region. The petition asks that those townships be taken out of the state’s expedited wind zone, which is an area that which allows for a fast track process to approve wind projects. If approved the petition would add another step the the process. Developers would have to go through the DEP to get Permits, but would also need to go through the Land Use Planning Commission to get the area rezoned for wind development. Supporters say that gives people in unorganized territories more public input.

“The whole zoning process exists for a reason and it exists for the reason of protecting the rights of the people from the area where rezoning is being requested so now this isn’t duplicative it’s going back to what we had before,” explained Chris King a member of The Moosehead Region’s Future Committee.

But opponents to the petition, including the Maine Renewable Energy Association, a non-profit trade association supporting renewable energy, says it’s merely a stall tactic that will create uncertainty and drive away developers.

“If they’re succesful it gives them two chances to comment, one at the land use planning commission level and then if they’re not succesful in thwarting the project there then they get to do it again through the Department of Environmental Protection process so it’s really two bites at the apple for people who are trying to drive off investment,” explained Jeremy Payne, the Executive Director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association.

Those opposed to the petition do have the ability to ask the Land Use Planning Commission for a review of the request and a public hearing. The Maine Renewable Energy Association, says it is planning to do that should the petitioners have the required signatures. The petitioners need to have signatures of at least 10 percent of registered voters in those unorganzied territories that voted in the last gubernatorial election.

The Moosehead Region’s Future Committee says it submitted petitions from people in Blanchard, Rockwood Strip, Parlin Pond, Moosehead Junction, Sandbar Tract, Moxie Gore, Saplin, Long Pond, Taunton &Raynham, The Forks, West Forks, and Dennistown.