not appropriate for intensive wind power development”
The Agency comments are starting to come in on the Highland Wind Project….and the truth is starting to come out.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has detailed many concerns about the Project, including:
“….strong concerns about potential wildlife impacts resulting from this proposed project….”
“Specifically, the Highland Wind Power project is likely to have negative impacts on two State Endangered and Threatened species, one state Special Concern species, three Significant Wildlife Habitats, and potential direct mortality to as many as eight state Special Concern species of bats. As such, we conclude that this project, as currently proposed, will likely have undue adverse impacts to multiple high value wildlife resources.”
Northern Bog Lemming: “We have significant concerns that the proposed development will have undue adverse impacts to this series of wetlands along Witham Mountain and believe that maintaining the integrity of this complex is critical to the local population of this Threatened species.”
Roaring Brook Mayfly and Spring Salamander: “The magnitude of project area within occupied stream habitat is of great concern and poses a high potential for undue impact to both species.”
Bats: “Results from the applicant’s acoustic monitoring for bat activity within the project area show the highest recorded bat sequences for any previously proposed project in Maine.”
“MDIFW is greatly concerned that this proposed project poses a significant long-term mortality risk to both resident and migrant bats.”
“Therefore, MDIFW believes that the currently proposed Highland Wind development poses an undue risk to bat populations.”
Nocturnal Migrants and Diurnal Raptors: “The passage rates of nocturnal migrants and diurnal raptors through the project area are among the highest reported for projects in Maine. Furthermore, a high proportion of nocturnal migrants and diurnal raptors pass the project area at altitudes equal to or less than the maximum turbine heights, greatly increasing the risk of collision. Observations revealed that over 80% of spring diurnal raptors (260) and nearly 50% of fall diurnal raptors (301) flew within the height of the proposed turbines, and approximately 60% of spring raptors and nearly 90% of fall raptors flew along or crossed the project ridgelines during passage. Both the potential for direct mortality with turbines and displacement from preferred flight corridors are concerns.”
“Similar concerns for nocturnal migrants exist at the proposed site. On average more than 23% of spring migrants passed through the rotor swept zone (RSZ) during the applicant’s pre-construction surveys. Further, over 60% of the 21 nights surveyed showed a passage rate of at least 20% through the RSZ. On those nights, approximately 75% of the total documented nocturnal migrants (176,993) passed through the project area. These data are much higher than at the Saddleback Ridge project in nearby Carthage, which was also surveyed during the spring of 2009.”
“The proposed Highland Wind Project has some of the highest recorded passage rates through the rotor-swept zone, and is among the highest passage rates (targets/km/hour) of any project reviewed by MDIFW.”
“However, results from the applicant’s radar surveys suggest that the
proposed site poses a higher risk to nocturnal migrants, especially a single catastrophic mortality event, than of any project proposed in Maine to date.”
“Absent a commitment by the applicant for significant operational mitigations (e.g., seasonal curtailment of turbines during migration periods), there are no plausible strategies to mitigate risks to migrating birds at this time.”
“Conclusion: MDIFW has provided technical assistance and consultations to this project since 2007. Despite considerable discussions and previous project modifications, an array of concerns remain unresolved and are evident in the application now before LURC. As proposed, we feel the project in Highland Plantation is not an appropriate site for this development and consequently poses a significant adverse impact for wildlife resources. Piecemeal minimization and mitigation measures for some impacts are plausible, but are not consistent with the conditions of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (no undue adverse effect) nor Maine’s Site Location Law (no adverse environmental effect), those Laws which govern permitting standards for a project of similar scope throughout the state. We conclude that the collective wildlife concerns detailed above demonstrate that this is not an appropriate locality for an intensive wind energy installation such as that currently proposed by Highland Wind Power.”
There is a lot more to the report, including concerns about fish and vernal pools, but the highlights above really tell us all we need to know—- The Highland Wind Project is a bad idea!
If this were any other project, in any other jurisdiction, a report like this one from MDIF&W would be the end of the story. But this is a Wind Project, pushed by a former Governor, in LURC jurisdiction. You can bet that the fight will continue.
We can only hope that in the end—common sense and the well being of the people, economy and ecology of the State of Maine win out over greed and politics.
To read the entire DIF&W report, and to see the other Agency Comments and other information related to the Highland Project, you can go to the LURC website at: http://www.maine.gov/doc/lurc/projects/Windpower/HighlandWind/Highland_DP4862.shtml
Stay tuned folks, this story has only just begun……………..