Bridging the canyons of peak power

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Whoops! We spoke too soon.

On July 8, in referring to wind energy, we said “Anything environmentalists and industrialists can agree upon must be worthwhile.” We should have clarified our statement, to instead say “certain” environmentalists.

For since then, it’s become clear the environmental community – despite its alignment with across-the-aisle groups like steel and electrical workers – remains deeply divided on developing wind power, as evidenced by comments made following fanfare for the resurrected Black Nubble windfarm.

Maine Mountain Power has asked the Maine Land Use Regulatory Commission for 18 wind turbines on Black Nubble Mountain, in Redington Township. It’s a scaled down version of the MMP’s plan for both Black Nubble and Redington Pond Range that LURC rejected last year.

Except, in this iteration, MMP is offering to put Redington into protection, if it can build on Black Nubble. It’s a fine proposal that’s earned support from many groups, including the organization that brokered the deal, the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Which, one would think, would seal environmental concerns about wind power in this part of Maine. After all, the NRCM, Maine Audubon and the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, in June, all signed onto TransCanada’s larger turbine plans for Kibby Mountain after the company offered to put a peak in the Mahoosucs under protection.

“The Black Nubble project strikes the right balance … that reflects the broad interests of Maine people in increasing renewable energy and conserving special places,” said NRCM’s Pete Didisheim during a news conference July 10.

Except Maine Audubon and some Appalachian Trail groups still oppose the project. “It’s a mistake,” said Jody Jones of Maine Audubon about Black Nubble, according to The Associated Press.

Note to Didisheim: it looks like we’re not the only ones who spoke too soon.

Consensus must exist among environmental groups for the Black Nubble project to move forward; it’s senseless to have groups with the same ends (supporting alternative energy) and means (while protecting the natural environment) to remain in disagreement about whether one becomes justified by the other.

This ongoing dispute also seems unfair to Maine Mountain Power, which has presented a sensible compromise to LURC, one that is also quite similiar to the proposal from TransCanada that received applause.

The differing environmental groups – who so easily agreed about Kibby – must work through their issues and present an united front when LURC holds hearings about Black Nubble at Sugarloaf USA on Sept. 19.

Otherwise, MMP and wind power in Maine, once again, could be left blowin’ in the wind.

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