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State commission denies wind energy petition

An effort to streamline the permitting process for wind energy development in northern Franklin and Somerset counties was halted Tuesday by a state commission.

The Maine Land Use Planning Commission voted to deny a petition to initiate rule-making to expand the expedited permitting area.

NextEra Energy Resources, which has 44 turbines on Kibby Ridge near the Canadian border, had asked the commission to expand the expedited permitting area by 24,777 acres in the townships of Chain of Ponds, Seven Ponds and Skinner, all in Franklin County, and T5 R6 BKP WKR in Somerset County.

The decision on NextEra’s petition was based on a letter submitted by commission staff, the commission’s chief planner, Stacie Beyer, said Tuesday.

The commission meeting was held at the Spectacular Events Center in Bangor.

According to the staff letter, the proposed expansion area is too broad in scope to be a logical geographic extension as outlined in the commission’s adopted guidelines.

NextEra’s had asked for the expansion to support the development of its Moose-Alder Stream wind power generation facility that would produce up to 460 megawatts.

The project would have also encompassed Alder Stream and Kibby townships and involved about 133 wind turbines. Fifty-three percent of the proposed project is already in the permitted area and 47 percent is outside it.

Geologically, the area along the Maine-Quebec border is referred to as the Boundary Mountains, according to the petition. NextEra’s existing turbines in the Kibby wind energy facility – capable of generating 132 megawatts – on Kibby Ridge in Kibby and Skinner townships would be in the middle of the proposed project. The Kibby facility was formerly owned by TransCanada Maine Wind Development.