Great article by Naomi Schalit and John Christie, The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Wind power’s grip on Augusta weakening
Rural Maine communities protest turbines, which they say deface ‘God’s country,’ but wind developers say they’ve invested too much money to be shut out now.
Portland Press Herald, May 21, 2013
They came from the townships and plantations of Concord, Lexington, Highland, Carrying Place and Pleasant Ridge. They set out for the statehouse in Augusta from the five sparsely populated backcountry communities set between the Kennebec and Carrabassett rivers, from a wooded intervale etched by streams, dappled by lakes and cradled by the hills and mountains of western Maine.
Wind act doesn’t treat all Mainers equally
The Wind Energy Act doesn’t treat every Maine citizen the same – some have more rights that others.
For example, the communities in the Unincorporated Territory that the Act put in the “expedited” permitting zone lost their right to weigh in on land use changes that would allow wind power to be built. Yet their neighbors just one community over who aren’t in the expedited zone still have the same rights they always had.
Norman Kalloch testified on L.D. 616 — even though his township, just north of Highland Plantation, isn’t in the expedited wind area.
“We, as residents of Carrying Place Town Township can participate in our township’s future through public hearings regarding zoning changes required for any high impact development including grid-scale wind development,” Kalloch told legislators. “By contrast, if the same wind project is proposed on the other side of the township line in Highland, our friends and neighbors there would have no opportunity or means to participate that is comparable to ours.”
And in the developed part of the state, residents of incorporated towns in the expedited zone there also have greater ability to act when wind power projects are proposed. They can pass their own restrictive ordinances to limit or ban wind power development. Finally, the Wind Energy Act of 2008 allowed state regulators to add areas to the expedited zone. But it included no provisions to take areas out, short of going back to the legislature and passing a bill.
Why are these communities treated differently? That’s not possible to determine because the members of the wind task force that made a map designating the expedited permitting area kept no minutes of the meetings discussing the map.
As they left, many of them passed a neatly lettered sign at the intersection of Long Falls Dam and Sandy Stream roads. The sign summed up what they were going to say to legislators later that day: “This is God’s Country. Don’t let wind towers come here and make it look like hell.” Read the rest of this entry »