Redington Mountain Would Earn Protection
The Natural Resources Council of Maine today announced that it strongly supports a proposal by Maine Mountain Power (MMP) to scale back its controversial Redington Wind Farm project. MMP today informed Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission that the company plans to seek approval for a wind farm only on Black Nubble Mountain, and would restrict development on Redington Mountain. A Black Nubble wind farm would produce 54 MW of clean energy, more than any other wind power installation currently operating in New England.
“This is the best possible solution, given the broad interests of Maine people to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to also protect wild places,” said NRCM Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim. “This strikes the right balance, providing protection of a 4,000 foot peak, while also moving forward with a significant renewable energy project.”
Maine Mountain Power originally proposed a 90 MW project comprised of 12 turbines on Redington Pond Range and 18 turbines on Black Nubble Mountain. That proposal was highly controversial, and on January 24th received a preliminary 6-1 denial vote from the Land Use Regulation Commission.
“Most of the concerns raised about the project would be significantly reduced by limiting the turbines to Black Nubble,” said Didisheim. “There would be less road building, less habitat fragmentation, reduced risks to threatened species, and reduced visual impacts – yet Maine would still have the benefits of a significant new source of clean renewable power.”
All of the turbines slated for Black Nubble would be at least three miles from the Appalachian Trail, and substantially further from several vistas along the AT, making them less prominent features on the landscape – though still visible, given the size of modern wind turbines. The ecological impacts would be reduced because Black Nubble is on the periphery of the habitat region of greatest concern.
“A 54 MW Black Nubble project would be a large wind farm by New England standards,” said Didisheim, noting that the 42 MW Mars Hill project currently is the region’s largest wind farm. “A Black Nubble Wind Farm would generate more electricity annually than all but five of Maine’s 102 hydropower facilities and most of Maine’s biomass plants. Such a project would provide another important step forward for wind power development in Maine, without sacrificing one of the State’s tallest peaks.” Redington Pond Range is the only mountain in Maine above 4,000’ (other than Sugarloaf Ski Area) that is not currently protected from development.
NRCM supports wind power development as a way of reducing society’s dependence on fossil fuels, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, cutting air pollution, and contributing to Maine’s economy. NRCM has called for Maine to meet 5% of its electricity needs from wind power by 2010 and 10% by 2020. NRCM evaluates each wind power proposal independently, and believes that some locations in Maine are not appropriate for wind power development. Redington Pond Range is one such place, which is why it was opposed to the full proposal and called for a Black Nubble compromise.
NRCM initially called for a single-mountain, Black Nubble-only project in July 2006, but neither opponents of the Redington Wind Farm nor the applicant were prepared to support a compromise at the time.
Redington Wind Farm testimony by La Capra Associates (PDF file)
Redington-Black Nubble turbine map (PDF file)
NRCM’s Redington testimony filed with LURC (PDF file)
NRCM exhibits to accompany Redington testimony (PDF file)
Black Nubble wind developer’s letter to LURC (PDF file)