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Entries in Maine BEP (6)


Energy News Roundup: March 16-March 22

This week in regional energy news …  


Energy News Roundup: March 2-March 8

This week in regional energy news …


Maine Wind Power Sound Rule Takes Effect

Maine’s newly adopted sound limits that apply specifically to wind power projects became effective June 10.  The Maine Department of Environmental Protection amended its Chapter 375(10) sound rules after a citizen-initiated petition to initiate rulemaking proceedings was submitted by wind power opponents.  The new rules lower the nighttime sound limit for wind power projects to 42 dBA from 45 dBA, while at the same time relaxing predictive modeling parameters imposed on developers.  In July 2011 the Board of Environmental Protection held a public hearing at which developers, opponents and project neighbors gave testimony on the potential health impacts of wind power sound.  Although the Board voted to lower the nighttime wind power sound limit, Board Chair Sue Lessard noted that it did so as a precautionary measure and not because there had been a demonstration that existing sound limits would result in adverse health effects.


Opponents Appeal Saddleback Ridge Wind Project

Opponents of the proposed Saddleback Ridge Wind project have appealed the project’s Maine Department of Environmental Protection permit.  The appeal was filed today with the state’s Board of Environmental Protection, challenging the DEP’s conclusions regarding the project’s compliance with visual and noise standards.  The appellants also claim that the DEP’s regulations regarding noise and visual impact are unconstitutional for a variety of reasons.   The appeal was filed on behalf of Friends of Maine’s Mountains, Friends of Saddleback Mountain and several individuals.  The Board of Environmental Protection has heard and denied four similar appeals of DEP permits for wind power projects in the past two years.  Those appeals were ultimately taken to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which affirmed the validity of the permits to build the wind power projects in question.  Verrill Dana, which successfully represented the wind power developers in all of those proceedings, is representing Saddleback Ridge Wind in the opponents’ latest appeal to the Board.



Maine Supreme Court Denies Appeals in Record Hill and Oakfield Wind Power Projects 

The Maine Supreme Court issued two opinions Thursday rejecting appeals of permits issued for the development of the Record Hill Wind project in Roxbury, Maine, and the Oakfield wind power project in Oakfield, Maine.  Today’s opinions upholding the Maine Board of Environmental Protection’s approval of both projects mean that the projects’ permits are now final and non-appealable. 

The Court unanimously affirmed the Board of Environmental Protection’s determination that both wind power projects comply with all relevant permitting standards, including the state’s strictest sound limits.  The opponents had claimed that the Board was required to have held a public hearing, should have found that the projects would result in adverse health effects and didn’t satisfy standards related to decommissioning and financial capacity.  The Court disagreed, rejecting all of the opponents’ arguments.

Writing for the Court in Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury et al. v. Board of Environmental Protection et al. (click to open PDF), Justice Ellen Gorman found that, with respect to the Record Hill Wind project, “the Board’s findings concerning the health effects of wind turbine noise are supported by substantial evidence in the record. The report of the [Maine Center for Disease Control] and the [Department of Environmental Protection’s] noise control consultant’s opinion both support the finding that the Record Hill Wind Project will not generate unreasonable adverse health effects.” 

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BEP Denies Appeal of DEP Permit for Wind Power Project 

The Maine Board of Environmental Protection has rejected an appeal by the Friends of Spruce Mountain of the permit for a 10-turbine wind power project in Oxford County.  The Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit to Massachusetts-based Patriot Renewables for a 20-megawatt wind power project along the Spruce Mountain ridgeline in Woodstock, Maine last October.  The Friends of Spruce Mountain, a local citizens’ group, opposed the project, raising concerns about low-frequency noise and the project’s proximity to homes, and subsequently appealed the DEP’s permit.  The BEP voted down the appeal 5-1.  

Verrill Dana attorney Gordon Smith represented Patriot Renewables in the BEP appeal.  Smith said that a conservative scientific model was used to predict noise levels and that the project will comply with the DEP’s most stringent noise limits.  Moreover, the DEP order included a requirement that Patriot Renewables collect noise data at permanently-established sites and operate a toll-free complaint hot line so that residents can report loud turbine noise.  If the DEP finds that the project is exceeding noise limits, Patriot must immediately reduce the noise levels of the turbines.

Quincy-based Patriot Renewables has proposed four wind projects in western Maine, including a 12-turbine wind farm on Saddleback Mountain in Carthage, which Franklin County commissioners voted earlier this week to support.