The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) has denied a permit application submitted by First Wind subsidiary Champlain Wind LLC for the Bowers Wind Project, a 69.1 MW wind energy development planned for Maine's Penobscot and Washington counties.
As currently proposed, the project would consist of 27 Siemens wind turbines with maximum height of 428 feet; new access and crane path roads; 34.5 kV above-ground collector lines; permanent meteorological towers; an operation and maintenance building; and a new substation to connect to an existing 115 kV transmission line.
The commission had raised concerns regarding the visual impact of the wind turbines' nighttime lighting, so First Wind began studying whether it could incorporate a radar-assisted warning system into the project's design. Such a system, however, would first need to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
However, local environmental groups expressed opposition to the wind project, claiming it would have an adverse impact on the area's landscape and wildlife, especially the lynx, birds and bats.
As a result, First Wind asked LURC to withdraw the company's application for the site permit and said it would submit a revised project proposal with a new layout design. However, the commission denied that request, and instead rejected the permit application, First Wind spokesperson John Lamontagne tells NAW.
The company is still proceeding with the project and intends to submit a revised plan in the coming months. Lamontagne also notes that First Wind is looking to use more efficient turbines to reduce the project's footprint.
"We have already analyzed the feedback that was raised during the review and are currently in the process of reconfiguring a new project that will be different than the one originally proposed," Lamontagne says.
"This is not the first time we have made adjustments in response to community and regulatory feedback and then have continued on to build a successful project," he continues. "Now that we have received official word from the commission, we plan to file a new proposal in the coming months that will better address stakeholder concerns while also bringing economic benefits to the surrounding community."
Provided that the project gains all the necessary approvals, First Wind expects the project's construction to begin next year.