The MATC recognizes the need to develop wind power as a renewable energy source. However, this need must be balanced against the recreational, scenic, natural, and cultural resources of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Maine. Background and more detailed information is contained in MATC’s wind power policy.
As stewards of the AT in Maine, part of the MATC’s mission is to preserve the scenic integrity and minimize development impacts adjacent to the AT. To carry out this mission, MATC’s Wind Power Committee was created in 2009 to monitor proposed wind power projects, research and assess their potential impacts to the AT, and make recommendations to the MATC Executive Committee for action. Current Wind Power Committee members include:
|Tony Barrett (Chair)||Tom Carr||Mike Ewing||Laura Flight|
|Lester Kenway||Bill Millis||Bill Plouffe||Milt Wright|
MATC is Pro-Appalachian Trail, Not Anti-Wind Power
- Both the MATC and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy support significant increases in renewable energy including wind power. Its policies are to site projects appropriately, to design them to minimize impacts to the natural landscape near the AT, and to protect the AT experience.
- When the Maine Wind Energy Act was passed in 2008, there was only one grid-scale wind project operating in Maine (Mars Hill). The turbines were less than 400 feet high and were built on a hill that had existing cell towers and a ski area. Today, the typical turbine is now about 20% higher.
- Additionally, the impact on the night sky from flashing red warning lights that are installed on turbines is visible. In general, when wind farms are located on ridge lines in undeveloped areas they are significantly more prominent landscape features than many of use anticipated they would be.
How to Make Our Voice Heard?
The MATC has taken issue with several proposed wind power projects in the past. These efforts entailed becoming an intervenor, and seeking legal council which expended valuable MATC resources and dollars. With proposed wind power projects continually popping up in the AT viewshed, contesting individual projects is cost prohibitive and is a reactionary approach to the issue. As a result, starting in 2013 MATC boldly took a proactive approach by submitting legislation to mitigate future impacts of wind power projects.
Why Changes to the Maine Wind Energy Act are Necessary
In 2008, the Maine Wind Energy Act was passed as emergency legislation to create rules for a new industry, venturing into previously unregulated territory. Several years later we have been alarmed at the scale and amount of proposed projects. To use our limited resources in the highest and best ways, MATC decided it was time to recalibrate the Wind Energy Act to better balance wind power development and scenic impact. The first effort in that direction was the compilation of the “Report on the Maine Wind Energy Act After Four Years of Experience with Recommendations for Changes to Achieve a More Balanced Public Policy.“. Subsequent to that, MATC started its legislative efforts.
2015 MATC Legislative Efforts
MATC has submitted legislation for the 2015 session. When the bill has a LD (Legislative Document) number, we will update the information in this section. In the meantime, if you are interested in writing a letter, speaking at a hearing, or becoming involved with this effort, please contact Wind Power Committee Chair Tony Barrett.
2013 MATC Legislative Efforts
LD#1147, “An Act to Protect Maine’s Scenic Character,” was submitted to the 126th Maine Legislative session in January 2013. An amended version did make it to the legislature for a vote, but it did not pass. The proposed legislation included:
- provisions to eliminate the stipulation that scenic impacts beyond 8-miles are insignificant;
- increased to 15 miles the distance for requiring visual impact assessments;
- established a “rebuttable presumption” that projects located within 15-miles of the most significant features of Maine’s landscapes including the AT would have an unreasonable adverse impact;
- required consideration of cumulative impacts in permitting decisions;
- required rules governing decommissioning plans for all permitted projects.
MATC Information on Wind Power
- Cumulative Impact Map
- Presentation: The Appalachian Trail and Wind Power: An Uneasy Alliance
- Presentation: Views from Pleasant Pond Mountain
- Presentation: Views From Bigelow Mountain
The map below shows 8-mile and 15-mile distances around wind projects to demonstrate where potential visual impacts need to be evaluated. Wind projects are not prohibited in these shaded areas, in fact, current and future projects have been/will be developed in these areas.
Chronology of MATC Legacy Wind Information
- February 21, 2014- Members of the AT Coalition address inaccuracies with a Letter to the Editor and submit to the Bangor Daily News, Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel and Portland Press Herald. AT Coalition Letter to the Editor
- January 13, 2014- MATC Wind Power Fact Sheet
- March 19, 2013- Letter to the Energy, Utility and Technology Committee to introduce the need for changes to the 2008 Wind Energy Act
- February 25, 2011- President’s Letter to MATC membership regarding Highland Wind Power Project
- January 4, 2011- MATC President’s Letter to LURC about the cumulative impact of wind projects along the AT