Citizen board upholds Maine DEP’s rejection of Bowers Mountain wind farm permit

Posted June 06, 2014, at 11:05 a.m.
Last modified June 06, 2014, at 5:13 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — State regulators have denied permitting for the 16-turbine Bowers Mountain wind project in eastern Penobscot County, rejecting the project by developer First Wind for a second time.

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection denied the project last year, a decision the company appealed. The citizen-run Board of Environmental Protection, which handled the appeal, voted 4-1 Thursday to uphold DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho’s rejection of the project.

John Lamontagne, a spokesman for First Wind, said the company was disappointed by the decision.

“We’re not sure what our next steps are,” he said.

In particular, the company last August had signed a power purchasing agreement for that project with National Grid subsidiary Narragansett Electric, which is based in Rhode Island. Lamontagne said Friday morning he wasn’t immediately aware of what the board’s decision would mean for that contract.

“This project would have seriously damaged the scenic value of nine lakes that the state of Maine has designated as significant scenic resources, lakes that the Legislature specifically shielded from wind projects,” said Gary Campbell, president of the conservation group Partnership for the Preservation of Downeast Lakes Watershed, in a statement issued Friday.

The DEP decision found that the $100 million project would have widespread negative scenic impact on the site, located in Carroll Plantation and Kossuth Township, within 8 miles of lakes deemed Scenic Resources of State or National Significance.

The BEP, which was expected to deny the project, postponed a vote on the appeal in early May, asking for revisions to the written recommendation.

Cindy Bertocci, executive analyst for the BEP, said final revisions on the decision were underway Friday morning.

Voting to deny the project were BEP members James Parker, Thomas Eastler, Thomas Dobbins and Robert Foley. Voting against denial was Alvin Ahlers. Richard Gould and Susan Lessard did not vote, Bertocci said, because they did not attend oral arguments about the project on May 1.

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