Appalachian Trail in peril, enviro group warns

Appeal of industrial wind complex launched

(Portland, Maine) Friends of Maine's Mountains (FMM) has appealed the recently-granted permit for a Massachusetts company to build Maine's largest-ever industrial wind complex.

In its written appeal to the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP), FMM asserts that the project will unreasonably degrade the best vistas along 280 miles of the Appalachian Trail that run through Maine.

"Every year people from all over the world walk two thousand miles on the Appalachian Trail pilgrimage, and all along the way they hear how beautiful it is when they reach Maine,” said Chris O’Neil, a spokesperson for FMM. “They will be sorely disappointed, and Maine will be irreparably tarnished, if at every high peak between the Western Mountains and Katahdin they are looking at looming industrial towers as tall as Boston skyscrapers."

FMM also objects that the decommissioning fund necessary to restore the mountains is drastically inadequate. In the appeal and in earlier filings (links below), FMM demonstrated that First Wind woefully underestimated the amount of work required to restore 17 miles of ridge, and grossly overestimated the amount of money that might be recovered from scrap value of old wind turbines. 

"Many people have come to understand that wind power cannot be sustained in Maine, and that these wind operators are going to take the subsidy money and run. When that happens, Maine should not assume all the economic and environmental liability that will come from abandoned turbines."

The permit, granted in September by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) after a two-year fight, added a requirement that the applicant, First Wind, demonstrate proof of project financing before construction begins. 

"FMM's strongly supports the DEP's concern about financial capacity, given the precarious condition of First Wind, especially since this Boston wind developer has never turned a profit, and its financials look worse every quarter. It’s foolish to hand over all our highlands to these people, O’Neil said.

A pending case before the Maine Public Utilities Commission that would bail out First Wind is likely to be hung up in litigation for the foreseeable future, so FMM's appeal asks the BEP to overturn the permit because of the uncertainty.

LINKS

Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM) is an non-profit educational organization that raises awareness of the destructive toll that industrial wind turbines inflict on Maine’s precious and finite mountain areas. For more information, www.FriendsOfMainesMountains.org.