Highland Wind Heats Up

Jane West

Last week was a busy week for the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC).  First, intervention status was granted to CLF and several other organizations in the Highland Wind case, a 39 turbine project located in Somerset county.  In addition, the Commission was presented with a novel legal argument.   The issue revolves around what sort of scenic standard should be applied to “associated facilities” of a grid scale wind power development.  The various components that make up the physical characteristics of a wind development consist of two broad categories: 1) generating facilities (the turbines, towers and transmission lines) and 2) associated facilities (the roads, buildings, generator lead lines, substations, etc…).

Historically, the scenic impact of both sets of facilities were evaluated under the Wind Energy Act (WEA) that seeks to provide meaningful guidance on evaluating scenic impacts by providing a list of 6 criteria that the applicant must adhere to.  However, last week, Commissioners were asked to apply an exception provided for under the WEA statute.  The exception provides that if the Commission “determines that application of the [wind-power-specific standard] to the development may result in unreasonable adverse effects due to the scope, scale, location or other characteristics of the associated facilities” then the Commission can revert to the more general standard when assessing the effect of the associated facilities on the scenic character of the affected area.

One of the issues that the parties and the Commission will be struggling with going forward is how to comprehensively analyze scenic impacts.  Wind energy development, of necessity, includes associated facilities.  How exactly do you go about erecting the turbines without the roads to transport the turbines in the first place? Better yet, once there, how do you collect the power generated without lead lines and substations?  Should the various parts of a single, cohesive development be judged with two very different standards?

LURC was clearly in a difficult position when grappling with whether to apply the exception.  The language of WEA lacked guidance on what sort of fact based criteria should be considered in determining whether the exception applies.  In the end, in a decision of first impression, LURC opted to apply the exception so that associated facilities will be evaluated by a different scenic standard from generating facilities.    The decision was hailed by wind opponents but the ultimate result of the decision has to be determined.  What is needed, by either LURC or the legislature, is clear guidance and a meaningful standard on when the exception should apply so that all parties can move forward with a sense of consistency on what standard will be applied to a project.

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24 Responses to “Highland Wind Heats Up”

  1. The problem with commercial wind is that it is a billion dollar dream that only contributes to political campaigns , lobbyist , sales commisions and triples our electric rates here in Massachusetts .

    The simple facts are geothermal can be done for one third the cost of commercial wind with the same results !

    Fiber Optic lighting in a large store can save 75% of a business electric bill ! Heat pumps in Maine have saved 40% on energy costs .

    The commercial wind turbine is a trophy for re-election of your local politician that read a one sided commercial wind turbine report from that semi quasi state agency in Massachusetts where they all make six figures and if they convince enough towns to believe in the one sided reports the employees of the semi quasi state agency go on to work for the commercial wind turbine company .

    It’s a fact and it happens every day !

    • Jane West

      Frank,

      We fully support a broad array of diverse renewable and low GHG emission energy producing options. Geothermal is a great alternative, where the resources are readily available. Likewise, wind energy is an excellent source of energy here in New England. By far, we agree that energy efficiency is the best and least expensive option to implement. Any combination of energy efficient and renewable resource options for our energy future makes sense in our effort to get us off of dirty fossil fuels.

  2. The problem with commercial wind is that it is a billion dollar dream that only contributes to political campaigns , lobbyist , sales commisions and triples our electric rates here in Massachusetts .

    The simple facts are geothermal can be done for one third the cost of commercial wind with the same results !

    Fiber Optic lighting in a large store can save 75% of a business electric bill ! Heat pumps in Maine have saved 40% on energy costs .

    The commercial wind turbine is a trophy for re-election of your local politician that read a one sided commercial wind turbine report from that semi quasi state agency in Massachusetts where they all make six figures and if they convince enough towns to believe in the one sided reports the employees of the semi quasi state agency go on to work for the commercial wind turbine company .

    It’s a fact and it happens every day !

    • Jane West

      Frank,

      We fully support a broad array of diverse renewable and low GHG emission energy producing options. Geothermal is a great alternative, where the resources are readily available. Likewise, wind energy is an excellent source of energy here in New England. By far, we agree that energy efficiency is the best and least expensive option to implement. Any combination of energy efficient and renewable resource options for our energy future makes sense in our effort to get us off of dirty fossil fuels.

  3. The problem with commercial wind is that it is a billion dollar dream that only contributes to political campaigns , lobbyist , sales commisions and triples our electric rates here in Massachusetts .

    The simple facts are geothermal can be done for one third the cost of commercial wind with the same results !

    Fiber Optic lighting in a large store can save 75% of a business electric bill ! Heat pumps in Maine have saved 40% on energy costs .

    The commercial wind turbine is a trophy for re-election of your local politician that read a one sided commercial wind turbine report from that semi quasi state agency in Massachusetts where they all make six figures and if they convince enough towns to believe in the one sided reports the employees of the semi quasi state agency go on to work for the commercial wind turbine company .

    It’s a fact and it happens every day !

    • Jane West

      Frank,

      We fully support a broad array of diverse renewable and low GHG emission energy producing options. Geothermal is a great alternative, where the resources are readily available. Likewise, wind energy is an excellent source of energy here in New England. By far, we agree that energy efficiency is the best and least expensive option to implement. Any combination of energy efficient and renewable resource options for our energy future makes sense in our effort to get us off of dirty fossil fuels.

  4. The problem with commercial wind is that it is a billion dollar dream that only contributes to political campaigns , lobbyist , sales commisions and triples our electric rates here in Massachusetts .

    The simple facts are geothermal can be done for one third the cost of commercial wind with the same results !

    Fiber Optic lighting in a large store can save 75% of a business electric bill ! Heat pumps in Maine have saved 40% on energy costs .

    The commercial wind turbine is a trophy for re-election of your local politician that read a one sided commercial wind turbine report from that semi quasi state agency in Massachusetts where they all make six figures and if they convince enough towns to believe in the one sided reports the employees of the semi quasi state agency go on to work for the commercial wind turbine company .

    It’s a fact and it happens every day !

    • Jane West

      Frank,

      We fully support a broad array of diverse renewable and low GHG emission energy producing options. Geothermal is a great alternative, where the resources are readily available. Likewise, wind energy is an excellent source of energy here in New England. By far, we agree that energy efficiency is the best and least expensive option to implement. Any combination of energy efficient and renewable resource options for our energy future makes sense in our effort to get us off of dirty fossil fuels.

  5. Alan B. Hunter

    Jane,
    Thank you for your timely article.
    A better choice of words may be “viewshed” instead of “scenic”.
    Look to the landscape architects for established language of the trade.
    Also, the National Forest System has great resources for visual quality management.
    Alan Hunter
    LF3342

  6. Alan B. Hunter

    Jane,
    Thank you for your timely article.
    A better choice of words may be “viewshed” instead of “scenic”.
    Look to the landscape architects for established language of the trade.
    Also, the National Forest System has great resources for visual quality management.
    Alan Hunter
    LF3342

  7. Alan B. Hunter

    Jane,
    Thank you for your timely article.
    A better choice of words may be “viewshed” instead of “scenic”.
    Look to the landscape architects for established language of the trade.
    Also, the National Forest System has great resources for visual quality management.
    Alan Hunter
    LF3342

  8. Alan B. Hunter

    Jane,
    Thank you for your timely article.
    A better choice of words may be “viewshed” instead of “scenic”.
    Look to the landscape architects for established language of the trade.
    Also, the National Forest System has great resources for visual quality management.
    Alan Hunter
    LF3342

  9. Realit E. Chek

    Thanks for the post to update us on Maine’s progress toward its wind policy goals. These companies continue to invest in green energy in a way that allows us to reduce our emissions, benefit our state and local economies, and put us on a path toward energy independence.

    Unfortunately, LURC’s decision places all future applications in a very precarious position. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, and Maine continues to be able to benefit from sustainable wind development, and potentially even export its newest commodity: electrons!

  10. Realit E. Chek

    Thanks for the post to update us on Maine’s progress toward its wind policy goals. These companies continue to invest in green energy in a way that allows us to reduce our emissions, benefit our state and local economies, and put us on a path toward energy independence.

    Unfortunately, LURC’s decision places all future applications in a very precarious position. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, and Maine continues to be able to benefit from sustainable wind development, and potentially even export its newest commodity: electrons!

  11. Realit E. Chek

    Thanks for the post to update us on Maine’s progress toward its wind policy goals. These companies continue to invest in green energy in a way that allows us to reduce our emissions, benefit our state and local economies, and put us on a path toward energy independence.

    Unfortunately, LURC’s decision places all future applications in a very precarious position. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, and Maine continues to be able to benefit from sustainable wind development, and potentially even export its newest commodity: electrons!

  12. Realit E. Chek

    Thanks for the post to update us on Maine’s progress toward its wind policy goals. These companies continue to invest in green energy in a way that allows us to reduce our emissions, benefit our state and local economies, and put us on a path toward energy independence.

    Unfortunately, LURC’s decision places all future applications in a very precarious position. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, and Maine continues to be able to benefit from sustainable wind development, and potentially even export its newest commodity: electrons!

  13. Karen Pease

    Och… y’all don’t get it, still.

    If global warming is the problem…

    And carbon reduction is the answer….

    Grid-scale wind energy developments are NOT the solution.

    I applaud your goals, but you’re advocating the sacrifice of much for a paltry, insignificant benefit. Please don’t approach this from a religious viewpoint, or that of a fanatic who’s drunk the koolaid and can’t be swayed by common sense. Let true science and economics guide you. Be open-minded. The time is coming when ‘wind’ will be exposed to mainstream America as the scam that it really is. Until then, those of us who oppose it will appear as selfish elitists who care for nothing but the ‘view’ (as Angus King loves to state). Nothing could be farther from the truth. But we are standing toe to toe with corporate power, established money, and a government ruled by big business instead of the will of common-sense Americans.

    If you want to be forward-thinking and brave… come on over to the dark side. 🙂 We’re WAY more fun… and we’ll be proven right when individuals finally get tired of believing the rhetoric and tag lines of those who will profit from the sale of useless, undependable energy sources.

    My best… and I look forward to having open and honest dialogue.
    kaz

  14. Karen Pease

    Och… y’all don’t get it, still.

    If global warming is the problem…

    And carbon reduction is the answer….

    Grid-scale wind energy developments are NOT the solution.

    I applaud your goals, but you’re advocating the sacrifice of much for a paltry, insignificant benefit. Please don’t approach this from a religious viewpoint, or that of a fanatic who’s drunk the koolaid and can’t be swayed by common sense. Let true science and economics guide you. Be open-minded. The time is coming when ‘wind’ will be exposed to mainstream America as the scam that it really is. Until then, those of us who oppose it will appear as selfish elitists who care for nothing but the ‘view’ (as Angus King loves to state). Nothing could be farther from the truth. But we are standing toe to toe with corporate power, established money, and a government ruled by big business instead of the will of common-sense Americans.

    If you want to be forward-thinking and brave… come on over to the dark side. 🙂 We’re WAY more fun… and we’ll be proven right when individuals finally get tired of believing the rhetoric and tag lines of those who will profit from the sale of useless, undependable energy sources.

    My best… and I look forward to having open and honest dialogue.
    kaz

  15. Karen Pease

    Och… y’all don’t get it, still.

    If global warming is the problem…

    And carbon reduction is the answer….

    Grid-scale wind energy developments are NOT the solution.

    I applaud your goals, but you’re advocating the sacrifice of much for a paltry, insignificant benefit. Please don’t approach this from a religious viewpoint, or that of a fanatic who’s drunk the koolaid and can’t be swayed by common sense. Let true science and economics guide you. Be open-minded. The time is coming when ‘wind’ will be exposed to mainstream America as the scam that it really is. Until then, those of us who oppose it will appear as selfish elitists who care for nothing but the ‘view’ (as Angus King loves to state). Nothing could be farther from the truth. But we are standing toe to toe with corporate power, established money, and a government ruled by big business instead of the will of common-sense Americans.

    If you want to be forward-thinking and brave… come on over to the dark side. 🙂 We’re WAY more fun… and we’ll be proven right when individuals finally get tired of believing the rhetoric and tag lines of those who will profit from the sale of useless, undependable energy sources.

    My best… and I look forward to having open and honest dialogue.
    kaz

  16. Karen Pease

    Och… y’all don’t get it, still.

    If global warming is the problem…

    And carbon reduction is the answer….

    Grid-scale wind energy developments are NOT the solution.

    I applaud your goals, but you’re advocating the sacrifice of much for a paltry, insignificant benefit. Please don’t approach this from a religious viewpoint, or that of a fanatic who’s drunk the koolaid and can’t be swayed by common sense. Let true science and economics guide you. Be open-minded. The time is coming when ‘wind’ will be exposed to mainstream America as the scam that it really is. Until then, those of us who oppose it will appear as selfish elitists who care for nothing but the ‘view’ (as Angus King loves to state). Nothing could be farther from the truth. But we are standing toe to toe with corporate power, established money, and a government ruled by big business instead of the will of common-sense Americans.

    If you want to be forward-thinking and brave… come on over to the dark side. 🙂 We’re WAY more fun… and we’ll be proven right when individuals finally get tired of believing the rhetoric and tag lines of those who will profit from the sale of useless, undependable energy sources.

    My best… and I look forward to having open and honest dialogue.
    kaz

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