CARROLL PLANTATION, Maine — An industrial wind site proposed for Bowers Mountain will be the second denied by the state’s top environmental agency if the department’s commissioner accepts a draft order, officials said Wednesday.
In a 48-page draft decision that closely mirrors the rejection advised for a proposed 14-turbine wind power project on Passadumkeag Mountain, Maine Department of Environmental Protection staff advise that DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho dismiss a 16-turbine project for nearby Bowers Mountain worth an estimated $100 million.
Staff members who reviewed the proposed wind farm said that it would have “an unreasonably adverse impact” on the views of eight lakes that are among 14 “Scenic Resources of State or National Significance” within 8 miles of the project site.
“This finding is not based on the fact that the proposed project would be highly visible, but rather on evidence in the record that demonstrates the great ponds within eight miles of the project have a high scenic significance,” the draft order states.
“There are eight great [lakes] that were deemed to have an overall scenic impact rating of Medium or greater; the user surveys demonstrate that there would be negative effects on continued use and enjoyment of the [resources] and nighttime lighting would have a significant negative effect on scenic character,” the order states.
The draft decision was released Wednesday. The company that proposed the wind site, First Wind subsidiary Champlain Wind LLC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
The eight bodies of water are Duck, Junior, Shaw, Keg, Scraggly, Bottle, Pleasant and Sysladobsis lakes.
The proposal was the second First Wind submitted to build atop Bowers to the DEP. The company cut its first proposal from 27 turbines to 16 when it submitted its second proposal to DEP in October. The now-defunct Land Use Regulation Commission denied the company’s first attempt in April 2012.
The DEP and Aho also rejected in November 2012 a 14-turbine wind power project proposed by Passadumkeag Windpark LLC and landowner Penobscot Forest LLC for Passadumkeag Mountain.
Aho turned down the application based on the negative visual impact the project would have on the area, particularly Saponac Pond, which is southeast of the town of Lincoln in Penobscot County.
However, the Board of Environmental Protection overturned the decision on March 21. The board voted 5-1 that Saponac Pond and the surrounding area are not of adequate environmental or scenic significance to justify the department’s rejection.
DEP officials heard testimony on the Bowers Mountain project during two days of testimony that ended in early May.