Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011: Power outages, Republicans and LURC

Posted Dec. 07, 2011, at 1:15 p.m.

Go underground

The OpEd piece by Gordon Weil on minimizing power outages does not mention installing local distribution power lines underground.

It is true that his suggestions could help reduce power interruptions. They require many shifts in management and regulatory processes, all of which become wearying and ignored over time; and they require cooperation across lines of authority in the hands of executives, not impossible, but difficult over time.

Utilities are distributed underground; natural gas comes all across Maine from Sable Island and to many communities. No big city is buried under a nest of wires: they are all lying safely underground. Aircraft fuel had been, maybe still is, delivered from Searsport to Limestone for decades now.

Overhead wires purposefully and gradually resolved to underground could actually, without human intervention, prevent almost every known cause of power outages catalogued by Mr. Weil. It would be a legitimate government purpose to see it done.

John Lyman

Orono

Feed and tax

I could not agree more with Wil Tibby on his view of the Republicans (“Out of the way, GOP,” BDN letters, Nov. 29). Their motto should be “feed the rich, tax the poor.”

Dee C. Brown, Jr.

Bangor

Listen more carefully

On Sept. 23, members of the LURC task force met with year-round and seasonal residents of the Unorganized Territory communities of Brookton, Forest and Forest City. Task force chair Commissioner William Beardsley and member Elbridge Cleaves attended, as did Washington County Commissioner Kevin Shorey and Washington County UT supervisor Dean Preston.

Despite concerns about difficulties in obtaining building permits on older village lots and on shorelines, and desires to protect scenic vistas from developments such as windmills, there was consensus that residents feared cronyism and old-boy favoritism if the counties take over any LURC functions and concerns that the counties lack professional planning or environmental expertise. Support for fixing, not dismantling LURC was strong.

A rationale given for having counties assume LURC functions is so citizens of communities such as Millinocket and Greenville are listened to, not people from southern Maine. Such an argument supports the premise that the UT is really a resource belonging not only to its real residents, but also to all of Maine’s citizens, and thus worthy of continuing state management by an entity that specifically does that. If the real residents of the UT are listened to, this is what they say.

The 21st century requires thoughtful decisions based on scientific facts by professional planners and environmental specialists, not a Wild West atmosphere where everyone does whatever they want. The proposed dismantling of the State Planning Office and of LURC will not accomplish what Maine needs to move forward.

Pamela Taylor

Forest City

LURC needs statewide vision

My family and I moved to Steuben 13 years ago after visiting Maine’s North Woods for almost three decades. The largest unbroken forest east of the Mississippi, this land has been well managed by LURC for over 40 years.

I have been closely following the LURC study committee process and am concerned about proposals to weaken and derail this important agency in the name of local control

Allowing counties to opt out of LURC would lead to overdevelopment, less consistency, increased bureaucracy, piecemeal planning and potential county bankruptcy. Piscataquis County commissioners estimated it would cost over $300,000 to carry out LURC duties on their own. Who would bear the brunt of this? Taxpayers!

Another concern I have is the proposal to allow county commissioners to serve as LURC commissioners. This could empower a county commissioner to advocate for unsound development in their county. We need an unbiased LURC commission.

One thing I love about Mainers is their hardworking, do-it-yourself attitude. However, “local control” of the North Woods is not a management strategy that reflects the needs and will of all Maine people. The North Woods have defined the state of Maine for centuries. Therefore, we need an agency with a statewide vision like LURC.

My family moved to Maine because it offered what so many other states have gambled away through overdevelopment and poor vision. I encourage the study committee to represent the interests of all Maine people by preserving a statewide vision through LURC.

Kim Raikes

Steuben

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