Developer seeks OK for revised wind project


PORTLAND (AP) – A scaled-down version of a proposed wind farm in western Maine has been filed with the Land Use Regulation Commission and public hearings are scheduled for September, project developers said Tuesday.

The latest plan by Maine Mountain Power LLC comes five months after LURC rejected its earlier proposal to erect a total of 30 wind turbines on Black Nubble Mountain and Redington Pond Range near the Sugarloaf USA ski resort.

In the revision, developers removed all 12 turbines from Redington Pond Range while leaving the 18 turbines on Black Nubble. The project would generate 54 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 20,000 homes a year.

Public hearings are tentatively scheduled to be held Sept. 19-21, said Jeffrey Thaler, a Portland attorney for Maine Mountain Power.

LURC could vote on the proposal by the end of the year, Thaler said. If the project is approved then, construction could begin next spring and the project could be operational in 2009, he said.

At a press conference Tuesday, representatives of about 20 conservation, health and other organizations expressed their support for the project. They said it protects Redington Pond Range from development while providing clean energy and reducing U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.

“The revised Nubble Mountain project strikes the right balance,” said Pete Didisheim of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Not all conservation groups favor the project, however.

Jody Jones of Maine Audubon said her organization agrees that wind power should be pursued, but that Black Nubble Mountain is an inappropriate site because of its rare plant and animal species and scenic vistas.

She said other opponents include the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the National Park Service.

“If we build it, we will be very sorry,” Jones said. “It’s a mistake.”

AP-ES-07-10-07 1221EDT