Maine Supreme Court Denies Appeals For Wind Projects

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The Maine Supreme Court has issued two opinions rejecting appeals of permits granted for the development of the Record Hill wind project in Roxbury and the Oakfield wind project in Oakfield, according to Verrill Dana LLP, the law firm that represented the project developers.

The opinions upholding the Maine Board of Environmental Protection's (BEP) approval of both projects mean that the projects' permits are now final and non-appealable.

The court unanimously affirmed the BEP determination that both wind power projects comply with all relevant permitting standards, including the state's strictest sound limits.

The opponents had claimed that the Board was required to have held a public hearing, should have found that the projects would result in adverse health effects and did not satisfy standards related to decommissioning and financial capacity. The court disagreed, rejecting all of the opponents' arguments.

The Record Hill wind project is a 22-turbine, 50.6 MW facility being developed by Brunswick-based Independence Wind, of which former Maine governor Angus King is a principal.

The Oakfield wind project is a 34-turbine, 51 MW facility being developed by First Wind. The two projects are unrelated, but the Maine Supreme Court heard oral argument on the appeals of both projects at the same time and issued its opinions rejecting those appeals on the same day.

Writing for the Court in Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury (CCSR) et al. v. Board of Environmental Protection et al., Justice Ellen Gorman found that, with respect to the Record Hill wind project, ‘the Board's findings concerning the health effects of wind turbine noise are supported by substantial evidence in the record. The report of the [Maine Center for Disease Control] and the [Department of Environmental Protection's] noise control consultant's opinion both support the finding that the Record Hill wind project will not generate unreasonable adverse health effects.’

Gorman further found that, ‘because the record before the Board was voluminous and included numerous written comments, studies and information submitted by both Record Hill and CCSR, we see no reason to conclude that the Board abused its discretion or otherwise erred in denying CCSR's request to conduct a public hearing on the ground that the record was 'adequately developed.'’

SOURCE: Verrill Dana LLP

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