Developer, landowner appealing Passadumkeag Windpark decision

Posted Feb. 27, 2013, at 4:41 p.m.

GRAND FALLS TOWNSHIP, Maine — The developer and landowner of a proposed industrial wind site on Passadumkeag Mountain are appealing the state’s rejection of a project permit, officials said Wednesday.

The Board of Environmental Protection will hear appeals filed by Passadumkeag Windpark LLC and landowner Penobscot Forest LLC of Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho’s rejection of the plan to build a 14-turbine site on the mountain.

The DEP decision said the developer met the majority of the department’s criteria for the project, including that it would not unreasonably harm any significant wildlife habitat, interfere with natural water flow, violate any state water quality laws or unreasonably cause or increase flooding to adjacent areas.

However, the ruling indicated the wind turbines would have a negative effect on the scenic nature of the lake. The views of Saponac Lake from the mountain are “one of a kind,” DEP spokeswoman Samantha Depoy-Warren said when Aho took the staff’s recommendation and issued the rejection in November.

The rejection was the first issued by the DEP regarding a wind project, Depoy-Warren said.

Penobscot Forest and Passadumkeag Windpark officials argue that the criteria for the rejection was flawed, the project’s impact on the lake viewshed is overstated and that the decision adversely affects those companies.

“They just basically disagree with us,” said James R. Beyer, regional licensing and compliance manager with the Maine DEP.

Attorney P. Andrew Hamilton of Bangor law firm Eaton Peabody filed the appeal. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Wednesday.

The DEP’s board will hear the appeal March 21. A time and place for the hearing has not yet been set, Beyer said.

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.

Residents opposing the project and anti-wind-power advocates have said the project would blight the mountain landscape, reduce property values, severely damage the tourism-based businesses in the area, threaten wildlife and bother residents with the vibrations, noise and strobe effect the turbines would generate or use. They also have raised the possibility of turbine malfunctions sparking forest fires.

Penobscot County commissioners delayed approving a tax break deal for the project, saying they wanted to see how the DEP would handle the project.

DEP is confident the board will uphold the decision, Depoy-Warren said.

“Anyone who looked at the picture agreed that there was an unreasonable adverse impact from this project,” Depoy-Warren said. “Anyone who utilized that resource professionally as a guide or [as a resident] lauded our decision.”

Bangor Daily News writer Alex Barber contributed to this account.

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