February 6, 2023

Battling Wind Energy in Maine – Update

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From the Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed:

Jan 4, 2016

Happy New Year to one and all.

You’re probably aware that Maine’s wind law has created a large area that is “pre-zoned” as suitable for wind development. The area is known as the expedited wind permitting area (EWPA). It was the wind developers themselves who decided what townships, etc. would become “expedited” and they did so without regard for the wishes of the citizens. Those of us lucky enough to live in organized towns have the right to enact ordinances restricting wind development but our neighbors in unorganized municipalities do not have that right.

Thanks to the expert and tireless efforts of Alan & Kay Michka, Karen Bessey-Pease and others, LD 828, An Act To Improve Regulatory Consistency Within The Jurisdiction Of The Maine Land Use Planning Commission, was passed by the legislature.  Governor LePage signed it into law in June of 2015.

LD 828 allows registered voters in any township, plantation or municipality in the EWPA to petition the state to be removed from the EWPA. The process is described in detail on LUPC’s website (   http://www.maine.gov/dacf/lupc/projects/wind_expedited_area/wind_expedited.shtml  ).

I’m very excited to tell you that at 8:10 this morning, Carroll Plt resident Wally Lindahl presented to LUPC a petition signed by Carroll residents asking that Carroll Plt be removed from the expedited wind permitting area. The moment he handed the petition in, Carroll became temporarily protected from wind development. Many thanks, Wally, for collecting the signatures and presenting the petition to LUPC! If no person requests the substantive review of the petitionwithin 45 days, Carroll Plt will be automatically removed from the expedited area. This does not prohibit wind development. But it does means that before a developer can submit a permit application, they will first have to get LUPC to agree to zone the Plt as being appropriate for wind energy project. While all other industries must comply with zoning laws, the wind industry in Maine considers this an unfair nuisance.

If within 45 days someone DOES request the substantive review of the petition, LUPC will schedule a public hearing to determine whether Carroll belongs in the expedited area or not. In order for LUPC to decide that Carroll Plt ought to be removed from the EWPA, two criteria must be met:

Criterion A. The proposed removal will not have an unreasonable adverse effect on the State’s ability to meet the state goals for wind energy development
Criterion B. The proposed removal is consistent with the principal values and the goals in the comprehensive land use plan adopted by the Maine Land Use Planning Commission

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Jeremy Payne, Director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association told Channel 6 News that he intends to challenge the petitions and request that LUPC conduct a substantive review. If the Carroll petition goes to a public hearing, we’ll be ready to fight tooth and nail to see that the decisions of LURC (2012), DEP (2013), BEP (2014) and the State Supreme Court (2015) are upheld and that the Downeast Lakes remain free of turbine views.

The fight to protect the Downeast Lakes from wind development may be over, or it may not.

I’ll keep you posted,