Roxbury wind farm project on hold awaiting Maine Supreme Court ruling

ROXBURY — Selectmen have learned that construction planned for this month on  a 22-turbine wind farm atop local hills likely won't happen until next year.

In fact, no on-site work has been done this year on Record Hill Wind's $120 million project because of an appeal filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in April. The wind project opponents' appeal has tied up financing pending a favorable decision, Record Hill principal Robert Gardiner said Wednesday.

Briefs from the lawyers are due in the next several weeks, with arguments expected in late fall and a court ruling by year's end or sooner, he said.

On Aug. 20, 2009, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection approved the project and issued permits. Work began immediately in late August on an access road and the seven southernmost turbine sites before the onset of winter forced the project to be put on hold.

On Sept. 21, 2009, Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury and other appellants who want to stop the development, appealed the DEP permit to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection.

In March, the board met to consider the appeal and after lengthy discussion, voted to uphold the permit and approve the project.

Undaunted, the appellants appealed to the state's highest court.

“Although the outcome cannot be predicted with any certainty, the fact that the court decided a very similar case in favor of another wind project in Maine just this March makes us optimistic that the permit will be upheld,” Gardiner wrote to Roxbury selectmen in a letter dated Sept. 3.

Gardiner was referring to the court's decision that reaffirmed state approval of Evergreen Wind Power III LLC's 40-turbine wind farm on Rollins Mountain in northern Penobscot County, according to a Bangor Daily News story.

The unanimous ruling also upheld the constitutionality of a state law fast-tracking the permit process for Maine wind farms.

“The Supreme Court appeal of licenses is an obstacle to the financing,” Gardiner said. “We had hoped to resume construction late this summer but are in a holding pattern awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court case, which, in turn, is necessary to clear the way for project financing.

“Although the times are challenging for financing, generally, and for energy projects in particular, we are in active and positive discussions on the financing package, subject to final negotiations and a favorable court decision,” Gardiner said.

“We cannot predict now whether we will restart construction before winter sets in or have to wait until spring," he said. "Until we really know the Supreme Court schedule — and they don't really have a schedule — we're sort of left not being able to say firmly what our (construction) schedule is."

He said he and co-principal Angus King were confident about the Supreme Court appeal.

“But whatever shroud of doubt there is, is an issue for lenders these days,” Gardiner said.

He said they've continued to monitor erosion control measures that were installed last fall to ensure no runoff from the project is reaching Roxbury Pond.

They also provided the town of Roxbury with necessary funding for water quality testing this summer at the pond.

Completed work so far includes the access road, minus a surface coat of fine gravel, a crane path for the seven southernmost turbines and turbine pads for all seven, Gardiner said.

“So, we're a third of the way through the civil engineering work,” he said. “We stopped there because that was a good way to put that to bed, so it could be environmentally stable. So, whenever we get the green light, we'll be ready to move ahead.”

Despite the delay, the project is still on track to be completed by the end of next year.

“Of course, the timetable could slip, as well, but it seems very realistic to us today,” Gardiner said.

That would mean completion of the access road and foundation work over the upcoming spring and summer, with turbine delivery in late summer or early fall.

"Once the site is ready, turbine erection is a relatively speedy process,” he said.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Supreme court

Rob Gardiner, could you explain why Denmark has 6000 turbines running but still imports more coal than ever and had to build 2 new gas fired power plants plus has C02 35% higher than before? The benefits of windsprawl have been exaggerated and the C02 reductions are not there. That means you are trashing the mtns. for nothing. Is the easy money worth your industrializing rural Maine? How did FoulWind Llc. bribe the Supreme Court to disallow the Rollins appeal? The RR2 zone prohibits buildings over 40 ft. tall and the only utilities allowed are elec., sewer, and water lines to residential housing. The court denied the Friends of Lincoln Lakes appeal and so approved of the chicanery and corruption which will haunt the Rollins project. It also shows that the wind industry does not care about the zoning or anything else. They rewrote the rules and weakened the DEP and LURC to make themselves rich. Expedited process is immoral. Just because the logging outfits abused the forests I guess Augusta figures they might as well let the rest of the state be ruined too. I am baffled at Mainers who continue to believe the wind lies and apparently couldn't care less about our state. Thankfully many are beginning to listen to the science and the real facts and see the windsprawl scam for just what it is. A ripoff!!

 's picture

The Fix Is In

Do not expect any help from the Supreme Court. They very fact that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection approved the project and issued permits is a perfect illustration the collusion involved between government agencies and the wind industry.

In addition, the heavy federal subsidies given to the wind industry were generated in Washington by the investors. It is a mega payday for them and really a robbery of the taxpayers. In addition many states began REQUIRING electricity suppliers to obtain a percentage of their supply from renewable energy sources, with percentages typically increasing over time. These self serving regulations guarantee increasing demand and profits for the wind industry.

The irony of it all is that this industry has nothing to do with saving the world from the use of oil and coal because the propeller style wind turbine is severely limited in its ability to produce energy. It can not solve America's energy needs. No matter how many are installed this style of turbine can never achieve the ridiculous goals set by State and Federal Regulators. Wind energy is really just a business and another way to sell energy. And because it is labeled "Green", the increased price per kilowatt is supposed to be more palatable to the consumer.

Once the public realizes that this industry is totally corrupt, riddled with fraud, driven by greed, the green image will then be forgotten. This false green image will then be replaced with the perception of being hoodwinked or hornswoggled. America can then start putting put the prop turbine in the dumpster where it belongs, and the next generation of wind turbines can be brought into production.

Having said all this, the thing I detest the most, is the needless slaughter of rare and endangered species while this industry makes a fortune from the misery they bring.

 's picture

Vandalism

It sounds as though that the work done so far is nothing but a case of vandalism on a huge scale.

Is BAYROOT, who may be the Yale University Endowment having second thoughts, fearing the shell of the shell company is about to be cracked open, exposing the self described world class environmental steward as a mountain defacer and giant scale clear cutter?

 's picture

Temporary Financing...

It's no wonder wind developers are finding it hard to procure financing for these wind energy plants. With more Americans learning the facts about these projects every day, there has been a groundswell of opposition to them. We must direct our government to halt the subsidization of this mis-guided plan until science has found a way to reduce the high, low and ultra-low frequency noise they produce. In addition, we must be intelligent when deciding where to site them. It's been shown that stringing them out along ridgelines is a mistake-- both from an environmental and an economical standpoint.

Without huge tax-payer subsidies, these would never find investors, for they can't produce a return on the investment. People are discovering facts like this, and when a state is threatened with large-scale destruction of many of its iconic mountains for a plan to produce expensive power which we do not need, but which is, for the most part, destined to be shipped out of state on new high-voltage transmission wires (which we also wouldn't need if it were not for the wind power) then those citizens should, and will, stand up and say "No!"

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