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Piscataquis County commissioners oppose Somerset Wind project

Citing the negative impact it could have on the Moosehead Lake region’s efforts to rebrand itself as “America’s Crown Jewel,” Piscataquis County commissioners have signed a letter stating their unanimous opposition to the proposed Somerset Wind project.

The 26-turbine 93.6 megawatt project, proposed by NRG Energy of Houston, would be sited on land owned by the Weyerhaeuser Co. that includes portions of Misery Ridge Township, Chase Stream Township and Johnson Mountain Township, according to Moosehead Regions Futures Committee.

The Piscataquis Observer reported that the Piscataquis County commissioners signed the letter on Oct. 3, stating the wind turbines would undermine the efforts of the Moosehead Lake Region Economic Development Corp. to rebrand the region as “America’s Crown Jewel” “and have a deleterious effect on preservation of the natural environment and scenic beauty of the region – a necessity for the long-term success of this rebranding effort.”

“Our biggest worry is that many of the visitors to Moosehead Lake and Maine’s North Woods come for a ‘wilderness’ experience, the letter stated. “Will they continue to drive long distances to come here if that wilderness feel is gone, replaced by the whirring blades of Somerset Wind’s turbines and the red flashing warning lights placed on each 500-foot tower for aviation safety? Our economy is too fragile to take that risk.”

The Observer reported that the commissioners would be sending their letter to the region’s legislative delegation, the governor’s office and the Land Use Planning Commission. They also indicated they’d actively oppose the project during the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s regulatory process.

“The irony to this proposed development is that while the Moosehead Lake area will experience the negative consequences of industrial-scale wind power, all of the electricity generated by Somerset Wind will be sent out of state to benefit regions which have fought to keep wind turbines out of their own states,” the commissioners’ letter stated.

Somerset commissioners also opposed

The Waterville Sentinel reported in early September that Somerset County commissioners took similar action by issuing a resolution sent to state and federal officials strongly opposing “additional industrial scale wind development and its associated facilities in Somerset County or the Moosehead Lake region.”

The newspaper reported that Richard McDonald, president of the anti-wind citizen group Saving Maine and a member of the Moosehead Region Futures Committee, told commissioners that decisions made in Massachusetts are the driving force of the proposed wind projects in Maine.

“If this goes forward, we’re going to have upwards of 3,000 turbines in the state of Maine,” McDonald told the newspaper. “It’s massive. There is going to be resistance to these projects.”