Residents protest wind site proposal for Passadumkeag Mountain

Peter Roy of Ellsworth speaks against a proposed industrial wind site for Passadumkeag Mountain during a meeting held by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in Greenbush on Thursday, July 12, 2012.
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Peter Roy of Ellsworth speaks against a proposed industrial wind site for Passadumkeag Mountain during a meeting held by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in Greenbush on Thursday, July 12, 2012. Buy Photo
Posted July 12, 2012, at 10:41 p.m.

GREENBUSH, Maine — Steve Cravin spent 22 years helping build at least 10 Los Angeles, Trident, Seawolf and Centurion class nuclear submarines as a pipefitter and shipbuilder for General Dynamics in Rhode Island.

Cravin moved to Maine and has had a cabin on Saponac Pond since 1998 to get away from the grime, smoke and claustrophobia of those all-metal environments. He told Maine Department of Environmental Protection leaders that he feels his lakeshore investment threatened by a new form of industrial ugliness: industrial wind turbines.

“I think this [state review process] should go a full year because I don’t think enough people out there actually know what’s going to happen here,” Cravin said Thursday during a public meeting at Helen S. Dunn Elementary School.

“I know you people look at dollars and cents. Everything is jobs,” Cravin added. “The problem with this is you have hunting and fishing there, scenery that everybody loves to look at. Do you plan to do a study on this?”

Cravin was among a dozen speakers who told state officials that the proposed 14-turbine industrial wind site proposed for Passadumkeag Mountain would blight one of Maine’s most beautiful mountains and lakes. More than 150 people attended.

Called Passadumkeag Wind Park and proposed by Quantum Utility Generation, an alternative energy company based in Houston, Texas, the site’s turbines would be 459 feet from base to extended blade tip. Each turbine would generate 3 megawatts of electricity, according to the company’s proposal.

Electricity would be collected in a 34.5-kilovolt line to run about 17 miles from Passadumkeag Ridge along Greenfield Road through Summit Township, Greenfield Township and Greenbush. The project would include a substation in Greenbush and a connection to an existing 115-kilovolt transmission line on Greenbush Road.

Speakers expressed fears that DEP approval of the site would cause land values to plummet, threaten wildlife and the area’s tourism industry while contributing few jobs and less industry to the area.

They complained that strobe lights hung on the turbines would be a nuisance and that the turbines would threaten wildlife, including many species on federal preservation lists.

“I don’t understand. We are supposed to be the tourism state,” one speaker said. “People are supposed to come here and see beauty. What beauty is this?”

Several speakers expressed hope that DEP would follow the example of the Land Use Regulation Commission when it rejected First Wind’s proposed 27-turbine site on nearby Bowers Mountain in April.

Neighbors and guides who work the area successfully argued that the First Wind site would mar the pristine beauty of the nine-lake region, considered by some to be one of Maine’s most beautifully natural and unspoiled regions, and ruin the tourist-based industries in the area. LURC commissioners agreed.

Speakers at Thursday’s meeting used the same argument, saying that Saponac was among several bodies of water that needed preservation and that the area adjoined one of the state’s largest conservation easements. Almost all speakers at Thursday’s Passadumkeag Mountain project meeting spoke against Quantum’s proposal.

Lincoln resident Gary Steinberg, a spokesman for the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power, accused DEP officials of being part of the “wind cartel” and pronounced the meeting “a joke” because it didn’t permit him to cross-examine the project proponents.

Brad Blake, another task force member, showed commissioners pictures of the Rollins Mountain wind site and implored commissioners to stop the “cumulative impact” of wind sites on Maine.

The department’s review process is continuing. The meeting was the second DEP held to discuss Quantum’s proposal. The first was in April.

The Penobscot County board of commissioners met Tuesday to discuss tax benefits the project would accrue the county.

Both review processes continue.

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