The Grand Lakes of Down East Maine are a national treasure. They are under assault from First Wind. First Wind, doing business as Champlain Wind, LLC, has proposed installing 27, 428-foot industrial turbines on Bowers Mountain and Dill Ridge, which rise up at the headwaters of the Downeast Lakes Watershed.
The Downeast Lakes Watershed is one of the largest undeveloped tracts of lakes in the lower 48 states. The Downeast Lakes region includes some two dozen lakes, many of which are connected by navigable waterways. This watershed includes more Class 1A and 1B lakes than anywhere else in Maine.
First Wind having already built Stetson I and II and just completing Rollins Mountain will continue expanding the industrial wind carnage around the Grand Lakes with the development of Bowers Mountain.
This world-renowned sporting region, with its pristine setting and incredible rare dark night sky will be ruined forever. It is time to put the brakes on — and say enough is enough. No more industrial wind mountain destruction!
Recently, I paddled through the Downeast Lakes Watershed — visiting Pleasant, Scraggly, Junior, Pocumcus and Sysladobsis lakes. I can tell you, having canoed and kayaked much of Maine and many places beyond, this watershed is a national treasure.
I would need several pages to detail the abundance of wildlife we encountered on our trip — from lunar moths to beavers to eagles to turtles to a host of duck species. At night with a sky only illuminated by the stars, the cacophony of the loons was ineffable. To desecrate this land with an industrial wind facility would be a crime against nature.
Not only would the Bowers Mountain industrial wind project visually assault the Downeast Lakes Watershed, but the blasting and leveling would cause irreversible damage to soils, hydrological flows and the unique assemblages of plants and animals. Thousands of bats and birds would be killed and many species of wildlife, including bear, moose and deer will be forced to flee from the massive ground vibrations and the pulsating of high and low frequency noise.
The ecological damage, in and of itself, is enough to say no to Bowers Mountain. However, in addition, this industrial wind project will not reduce greenhouse gases, will produce at most only two permanent jobs after the construction phase, will raise electric rates, devastate property values and undermine the economic benefits of Maine’s number one industry — tourism and recreation.
To add insult to injury, not only would this project be heavily subsidized by your tax dollars, but all the unreliable and intermittent power will be exported out of Maine. In the final analysis, we get to subsidize the destruction of our mountains so that we can be stripped of property wealth and pay higher electric rates! Meanwhile, First Wind of Boston makes tens of millions. What a great deal for Mainers!
At the public hearings at the end of June, 80 percent of those testifying were opposed to the project. Almost without exception, those in favor, including Maine Audubon, have or will benefit financially from First Wind’s predatory and destructive industrial wind development in Maine.
I am hopeful that the LURC board, having now witnessed the problems at other industrial wind sites, will be more resolute in defending the integrity of the unorganized territories. Mountaintop industrial wind is not a harmonious fit with wild Maine. It does cause undue adverse effects to the land, wildlife and the inhabitants of rural Maine.
The first sentence of the legislative findings in the Maine Expedited Wind Energy Act states that wind development should be sited “where appropriate.” There is no conceivable way that any rational person could conclude that erecting 27 massive industrial turbines in the heart of the Grand Lakes Watershed is appropriate.
Mainers have already lost several mountain tops to the mountain slayers and profiteers. We must stop them from unleashing their bulldozers and excavators on the slopes of Bowers Mountain.
LURC has the ability to curtail the gold rush of wind developers, feeding at the trough of federal and state subsidies, before Maine is transformed from a wild and bucolic paradise to an industrial wind wasteland. For the magic of the mountains, let’s hope they do their job.
Jonathan Carter is director of the Forest Ecology Network.