Maine lawmaker backs bill to block wind turbines

Source: By Patrick Whittle, Associated Press • Posted: Tuesday, April 11, 2017

PORTLAND (AP) — The state legislature is considering a proposal that would prevent Maine from permitting an offshore wind energy project in the vicinity of Monhegan Island.

Monhegan Island is a tiny island about 12 nautical miles off of Maine’s coast that is well known as a home to artists, seasonal residents and lobster fishermen. Maine Aqua Ventus intends to install a two-turbine, 12-megawatt project off its coast.

Republican state Sen. Dana Dow, who represents the island in the statehouse, has submitted a proposal that would prevent the project from happening. His proposal would create a prohibited zone where an offshore wind energy test area would not be able to be located.

Dow’s proposal would also prohibit the state from issuing a permit for an offshore wind project within 10 nautical miles of the Monhegan Lobster Conservation Area. The proposal states that its goal is to “protect Monhegan Island by limiting wind turbines.”

Dow submitted his proposal in late March. It has been referred to the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, but it has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing or a vote.

The project has received more than $10 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. But Dow, who lives in coastal Waldoboro, has said Monhegan deserves the same kind of protections as Mount Katahdin and Acadia National Park.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine is monitoring the progress of the proposal, said Dylan Voorhees, the council’s climate and clean energy program director. He said there is no such place as a conflict-free location for a wind power project.

“Wind power is an important renewable energy resource as we diversify our energy mix and reduce dependence on fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions,” he said. “At the same time, we need to make sure that we get the siting right for projects, and that’s equally true offshore as for onshore.”

AP file photo

Sharlie Sudduth, of Marion, Mass., packs up her easel and paints after spending a week on Monhegan Island, Maine, attending a painting workshop Friday, June 21, 2002. The tiny island, 10-miles off the coast of Maine, has about 60-year-round residents and attracts close to one-thousand visitors a day during the summer months.

AP file photo

Gulls are attracted to the bait bag held by sternman Brandon Demmons while working aboard a a lobster fishing boat, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, off of Monhegan Island. The sternman’s main task is to replace bags of dead herring after the captain removes the lobsters from the hauled trap.

AP file photo

Andy Benoit paints a view of the harbor of Monhegan Island, Maine July, 12, 1998. For over a hundred years, artists, naturalists, and hikers have been coming to this island, which is 10 miles off the coast of Maine.