Group appeals Spruce Mountain project to Maine high court

WOODSTOCK — A group opposed to the Spruce Mountain wind project has filed an appeal against the permit in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

The move could jeopardize an offer from project developer Patriot Renewables to donate $120,000 to save three teaching jobs at Woodstock Elementary School using money the company had budgeted for legal challenges.

On March 4, Patriot Renewables Chief Operations Officer Todd Presson confirmed the offer, “As long as we don't have any further legal challenges.”

Friends of Spruce Mountain, which opposes the project, filed the appeal through its attorney Rufus Brown on March 9. Denise Hall, vice president of the group, said the challenge was “already well in the works” when Patriot Renewables made the offer.

Hall said she didn't believe Patriot Renewables made the offer to SAD 44 in order to pressure her group to drop its case, but she questioned the wisdom of making such an offer when an appeal was already in the works.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection approved a site plan permit for the Spruce Mountain project on Oct. 5. In January, Friends of Spruce Mountain appealed the permit before the Board of Environmental Protection but failed.

According to Hall, the appeal to the Maine Supreme Court is on the grounds of noise levels, environmental impacts and the costs of decommissioning, with the appeal to the Board of Environmental Protection. They are also affirming that a public hearing on noise should have preceded the DEP permit.

The Maine Supreme Court is also facing appeals against planned wind projects at Record Hill and Oakfield. Presson said those appeals are nearly identical to the appeals against the Spruce Mountain project.

“We're optimistic that some of the existing appeals that are before the Supreme Court are going to be resolved in the near future,” Presson said Thursday. “If that happens, we hope the opponents will reconsider and withdraw the appeal to our project.”

Hall said her group hasn't decided whether a loss for those appeals would cause Friends of Spruce Mountain to drop the appeal. “We are keeping faith that the law court will decide to protect the good citizens of Maine where the DEP has failed them in the past,” Hall said in an e-mail.

Presson said it could be six months before the court rules on the appeal.

In an interview with the Bethel Citizen, Hall said Patriot Renewables should donate unconditionally and was using the elementary school as “a bargaining tool.”

“That's just not true,” Presson said. “If there's the money, we can do it.”

treaves@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Why Appeal the Spruce Mountain Wind Project?

It is clear that most folks don't realize the magnitude of this project. Here are some facts;
There are 26 properties ranging from 2200 ft. to 3500 ft in the Eagles Nest Housing Project.
Just below that is Shagg Pond, which has 36 properties with in 3500 ft. to 4500 ft. Then add the 67 properties of Concord pond that are within 1 to 1 1/2 miles from the turbines and the 90 abutting properties in the Patriot Renewables Abutting Property List and you come up with 219 properties that are directly affected by this wind project. That doesn't include the aprx. of another 100 or more that are found within the 2 mile safety zone for mountainous projects like this one. That does not mean 219 people, that is only properties that are involved. If the standard family size is 3 or 4, then multiply by that number. Just for kicks and Giggles let us the number 3. that adds up to 657 people that Patriot Renewables says it WON"T AFFECT. Maine doesn't need to destroy our mountains for expensive wind turbines that our tax dollar is paying for..... And if they are using our tax money, why do they tell us that they can't disclose how the financial status is going because of TRADE SECRETS?
I say that if they are using our tax dollars, they should be allowing disclosure of how those tax dollars are being used. Oh, I also find it interesting that the man who owns the tower company has the same last name as Jay Cashman that is Patriot Renewables. Maybe these little towns who have cell towers coming in should say no and then the wind companies can't get there foot in the door of their town. It seems that cell towers and wind turbines are in the same category, even though the wind turbines have a machine on them that sounds like a jet engine and a height of 400 ft. Let's not forget the 250 foot blade swing. Maybe when we get done with wind turbines we will out law cell towers and we can go back to smoke signals. To much technology to fast and un-needed. If Massachusetts needs electricity then put it in their state not ours. We don't need the unsightly clutter on our mountains and we don't need the electricity, because we have enough of our own green electricity now.

Friends of Spruce Mts.

You don't own the mountains. Work with thw wind developers so what they want to accomplish will benefit the towns they are being built in. See if they will invest in modern technology like the jet turbine (less destructive land involvement). If they have jumped the gun already and purchased the old fashion turbines then shame on them. If they want to really show they care about environment they would upgrade to newer technology. You shouldn't complain then as much.You don't complain about cell towers and they are popping up all over the place. You are discriminating.

Lisa Lindsay's picture

For what it's worth

and I know it's not much to you, but I do complain about all the cell towers popping up all over the place. Up until a few months ago, we had no cell coverage at our house. I didn't care one bit. Now one has gone up on a hill in town or over the line (not sure exactly what hill it's on) and it sticks out like a sore thumb. I now have cell coverage at the house, but still don't use it and happily would have gone on that way.

Karen  Pease's picture

"Bargaining tools"--how very civilized...

It's an out-and-out bribe, and I don't believe the good people of Woodstock will fall for it. Patriot Renewables had one goal-- they hoped their offer of $120,000.00 to 'save' teachers' positions would convince some townspeople to pressure those who are opposing the wind development to cave in and stop their court appeal.

That is despicable. PR is not some benign new neighbor wanting to be 'part of the community'... they are a for-profit entity whose only goal is to get their development permit application in hand, build their industrial wind facility, and take their millions in tax-payer subsidies.

Common sense Mainers know the score, and we can see blatant bribery for what it is.

Did PR also offer to continue that $120,000.00 for every years for the life of their project? Because a band-aid won't fix the problem, and folks know that. All it would be is a quick fix... with a bit of shame on the side.

Community members support one another, even if they don't agree. I hope the good people of Woodstock see this bribe for what it is-- and I hope it infuriates them. We aren't some back-woods yokels who will take hand-outs and then turn a blind eye to this sort of corruption. What saddens and maddens me the most is that our legislature sanctions bribery in this form, and for this particular industry.

This has to stop. If a wind development brings value to a town, the developers would not have to bribe residents. But they do-- and they have, in every single town they've approached. I find that appalling, and I believe it's time to put a stop to it.

Respectfully,
Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., Maine

Karen  Pease's picture

"Bargaining tools"--how very civilized...

It's an out-and-out bribe, and I don't believe the good people of Woodstock will fall for it. Patriot Renewables had one goal-- they hoped their offer of $120,000.00 to 'save' teachers' positions would convince some townspeople to pressure those who are opposing the wind development to cave in and stop their court appeal.

That is despicable. PR is not some benign new neighbor wanting to be 'part of the community'... they are a for-profit entity whose only goal is to get their development permit application in hand, build their industrial wind facility, and take their millions in tax-payer subsidies.

Common sense Mainers know the score, and we can see blatant bribery for what it is.

Did PR also offer to continue that $120,000.00 for every years for the life of their project? Because a band-aid won't fix the problem, and folks know that. All it would be is a quick fix... with a bit of shame on the side.

Community members support one another, even if they don't agree. I hope the good people of Woodstock see this bribe for what it is-- and I hope it infuriates them. We aren't some back-woods yokels who will take hand-outs and then turn a blind eye to this sort of corruption. What saddens and maddens me the most is that our legislature sanctions bribery in this form, and for this particular industry.

This has to stop. If a wind development brings value to a town, the developers would not have to bribe residents. But they do-- and they have, in every single town they've approached. I find that appalling, and I believe it's time to put a stop to it.

Respectfully,
Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., Maine

Lisa Lindsay's picture

I don't know what you call it

Calling it a bargaining tool is being generous. Regardless, it's gross. How the staff of Patriot Renwables could sit through 3.5 hours of testimony in Dixfield regarding the Saddleback Ridge project in Carthage and still sleep at night is something I'll never understand. We're not rolling over, PR. What about the people who have to live with these useless wind turbines?

Would these three teachers take money that was the direct result of a threat (of not making the gift) to stop a group from exercising their legal rights? I'm sure they must have higher moral standards than that.

Siting massive wind projects on the tops of mountains will never be good for Maine. And companies like Patriot Renewables have driven a wedge between neighbors in town after town in this state. Such a shame.

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