Complete Negotiation with Developer to Reach Formal Agreement
FALMOUTH, Maine, June 5, 2007—The Appalachian Mountain Club, Maine Audubon, and Natural Resources Council of Maine have announced their support for a wind-power project proposed in western Maine, after working out an agreement with TransCanada Maine Wind Development, Inc.
The agreement outlines multiple conservation-related actions the developer will undertake should Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) approve the company’s amended application to construct and operate a 44-turbine power facility on Kibby Mountain and Kibby Range in Franklin County, Maine.
“We are supporting the proposed project because TransCanada has been diligent in the assessment and design of the project, collaborated with Maine Audubon from the project’s inception, and agreed to amend its application to include additional measures to reduce potential harm to wildlife and habitat and the recreational, scenic, and other natural-resource values that make high-elevation environments so special,” said Kevin Carley, executive director of Maine Audubon.
Yesterday, the company submitted amendments to its application before LURC for rezoning and a preliminary development permit for the Kibby project. LURC is expected to hold a public hearing on the Kibby wind-power proposal this summer. If the project is approved, TransCanada hopes to begin construction this winter on a facility expected to generate about 357 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually—enough to power approximately 50,000 Maine homes.
The three environmental organizations want wind power to be a long-term, clean-energy solution in Maine, but sited and mitigated appropriately. They believe the Kibby project has satisfied those criteria. The project area has significant natural-resource values that include Protected Mountain Areas (areas above 2,700 feet) under LURC’s zoning standards.
Based on extensive field studies, and in collaboration with Maine Audubon, the applicant reduced the size of the project and relocated turbines to avoid creating significant negative impacts to potential habitat for the northern bog lemming, a threatened species in Maine, and to highest-value habitat potentially inhabited by the rare Bicknell’s thrush. Under terms of the agreement, TransCanada will mitigate for ecological and other on-site impacts by helping to protect high-elevation lands adjacent to the project and in western Maine that have equivalent natural-resource value.
“This agreement recognizes that no energy source is entirely benign, but that some wind-power sites are more appropriate than others and that mitigation can help achieve an appropriate balance,” said Dr. David Publicover, senior staff scientist of the Appalachian Mountain Club.
In its amended application, TransCanada will:
Conduct studies of bird and bat mortality, when the project is operating, and share the results with environmental organizations.
Commit not to develop wind facilities on approximately 1,324 acres of land above 2,700 feet located near the project area.
Contribute $500,000 to the permanent conservation of approximately 750 acres of ecologically significant high-elevation habitat and important back-country recreation lands in Maine’s Mahoosuc Mountain range. This parcel would be a component of a larger land protection effort and would complement over 31,000 acres of abutting conservation lands, including the Mahoosuc Public Lands Unit and Grafton Notch State Park.
“NRCM supports the Kibby project for the substantial amount of clean energy that it would provide to Maine people,” said Pete Didisheim, advocacy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “If approved and built, this wind farm will provide an important step forward in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and addressing the threat of global warming.”
APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB, founded in 1876, is the oldest conservation and recreation organization in the United States. With 90,000 members in the Northeast and beyond, the nonprofit AMC promotes the protection, enjoyment and wise use of the mountains, rivers and trails of the Appalachian region. For information on AMC’s wind power siting research, see: www.outdoors.org/conservation.
MAINE AUDUBON works to conserve Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat by engaging people of all ages in education, conservation and action. For more than 160 years, Maine Audubon has been connecting people with nature and leading science-based conservation in major projects across the state. An independent affiliate of Audubon’s national organization, Maine Audubon has seven local chapters, 11 nature centers and sanctuaries, and 11,000 members and supporters.
THE NATURAL RESOURCES COUNCIL OF MAINE is a nonprofit membership organization protecting, restoring, and conserving Maine’s environment, for today and for future generations. NRCM works to improve the quality of Maine’s rivers, reduce poisonous chemicals threatening human and wildlife health, decrease air and global warming pollution, and conserve Maine lands. NRCM harnesses the power of the law, science, and the voices of almost 11,000 supporters.