Four area members of the Legislature have joined county commissioners in Somerset and Piscataquis counties in opposition to proposed industrial wind projects in the Moosehead Lake region as a threat to the area’s tourism-dependent economy.
Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville; Rep. Chad Grignon, R-Athens; Rep. Paul Sterns, R-Guilford; and Rep. Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan, all signed a letter dated Oct. 8 to Judith Judson, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, expressing “our unanimous opposition” to new wind development and high-voltage transmission corridors in Somerset County.
“The adverse impact of the proposed projects in one of the nation’s most unspoiled, scenic rich landscapes would be devastating to the enjoyment of our recreational- and wilderness-seeking visitors as well as our highly-valued seasonal residents,” the legislators wrote.
They said the presence of 500-foot wind turbines and miles of transmission corridors “would constitute a death sentence” for the area economy.
The project bids come in response to Massachusetts Clean Energy and New England Clean Energy, part of a group of agencies and electric utilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island that issued a request for proposals for energy projects last November to help them meet their clean-energy goals and fight climate change.
The legislators targeted five projects – four by Central Maine Power Co. – one in cooperation with NextEra Energy Inc. and another with EDF Renewable Energy, and a fifth called Somerset Wind by NRG Energy.
Residents spoke in August in Rockwood, following a presentation by Richard McDonald, president of the anti-wind energy group Saving Maine and a member of the steering committee of Moosehead Region Futures, to voice concerns over the future of the rich aquifer that feeds Moosehead Lake and the long, deep Shirley Bog if the ridgelines are blasted away to make room for wind turbines.
Residents said they feared the 500-foot tall turbines would adversely affect the aviation tradition on the lake as well, including the fall Greenville Fly-in.
“There’s a lot at stake,” McDonald told the group. “The view and the wilderness experience. There’s a future at stake if you want to develop tourism in the area. The turbines pose a serious threat to the region.”
Somerset County commissioners in September issued a resolution strongly opposing additional wind turbines in the county or the Moosehead Lake region, saying industrial turbines and transmission lines would forever spoil the “world class beauty” of the region.
Commissioners noted that proposals for new wind projects west of Moosehead Lake would add to the “adverse impact” on the night sky already seen with the 63 turbines now working in the Bingham area.
Together, the proposed wind projects would include more than 230 turbines, miles of access roads through pristine wilderness, utility substations and transmission corridors.
In their unanimous opposition to new wind turbines, Piscataquis County commissioners wrote to Judson in September, saying the Moosehead Lake Region Economic Development Corp. has been working for nearly three years on a strategic action plan “designed to maintain the natural and cultural character of the area in order to create an 8- to 10-month tourism-based economy that is sustainable.”
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