Maine’s top court upholds denial of Bowers Wind project

Posted Dec. 03, 2015, at 6:17 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday ruled a state environmental appeals board acted within its power in denying SunEdison’s proposed 16-turbine Bowers Mountain wind farm, in Carroll Plantation and Kossuth Township.

The court ruled that the Maine Board of Environmental Protection acted within its power to consider the scenic impacts of the project, which was planned for a site within eight miles of lakes deemed scenic resources of state or national significance.

“Given the authority granted to the board by the Legislature and the board’s superior position for addressing the unique characteristics of each project when considering the effect of wind energy development on Maine’s scenic environment, we cannot conclude that the statutes compel a result contrary to that reached by the board,” the court ruled in an opinion written by Chief Justice Leigh Saufley.

The conservation group Partnership for the Preservation of Downeast Lakes Watershed opposed the project.

The court noted that the project was within the bounds of the state’s expedited permitting area for wind power projects, but that the Board of Environmental Protection acted within the state’s expedited permitting law in reviewing the scenic impacts of the project.

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection denied a permit for the project in 2013. Developer Champlain Wind LLC appealed that denial to the Board of Environmental Protection, which agreed with state regulators that the $100 million, 48-megawatt project would have widespread negative scenic impact on the area.

The project was proposed by Champlain Wind LLC, formerly a subsidiary of First Wind. First Wind was purchased by SunEdison early this year for $2.4 billion.

The company last August signed a power purchasing agreement for the Bowers Mountain project with National Grid subsidiary Narragansett Electric, which is based in Rhode Island.

That agreement called for SunEdison to begin supplying power from Bowers Mountain by March 2017.

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