Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Map of the Week-Maine Expedites Wind Power

I just got back our annual trip to Maine. The trip primarily involves the following steps.
1. throw a tennis ball into the lake
2. watch the dog bring it back
3. repeat
4 - infinity. repeat

Remy taking a rare break

In between throws I got a little reading done. This article about wind energy from the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting (reprinted in the Lincoln County News) caught my attention because it's largely about a map the state made under poorly documented circumstances. The map shows sites where wind turbines can get "fast track" consideration. Maine passed a law in 2008 designed to get wind projects moving with a goal of generating 2000 megawatts by 2015.

The map in question does not appear to be freely available to the public. Official records from the meetings where the map was drawn also appear to be non-existent. In fact, the whole process seems to be poorly documented and full of questionable connections between politicians and industry insiders. These projects are causing a rift among environmental groups with some of the groups seeing more harm than good. Beyond the usual "NIMBY" concerns about noise, property values and visual blight, there is also the required cutting of forests, installation of transmission lines, modest power output and much of the power and money being funneled out of state.   

The map was approved by the state legislature as a first step in deciding which projects should be built where and does not guarantee approval. While that map is not available, here is a map from the National Resources Council of Maine showing present and possible future wind projects.

Most of these projects are mountain top sites. The term "In Development" seems optimistic as it appears to mean that permits have been submitted, not necessarily approved. The "Under Construction" category is apparently nowhere-but it seems that the state is hoping the next version of this map will have some yellow stars.

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