Maine Audubon report says wind farms can be built with low impact to wildlife population

BY MORGAN ROGERS

December 10th, 2013 

Maine Audubon, a wildlife advocacy group based in Falmouth Maine, issued a report stating that there is enough room to develop wind energy in the state without major damage to the wildlife population.

Maine has 1.1 million windy acres that could be used for wind energy development, 933,000 of which does not contain sensitive habitats, according to the report released Dec. 4 by wildlife biologist Susan Gallo.

The areas designated for wind projects that have both enough wind and low impact on the wildlife comes to 418,000 acres, which is 45 percent of the total acreage being looked at for potential development.

“We recommend that any land-based wind development in the mountainous areas of northern and western Maine and along our coast be carefully studied,” stated the report.

The Board of Environmental Protection struck down two challenges to permits issued earlier this year for the $110 million Hancock Wind project in Hancock County on Dec. 5th. Darren Lord and Oscar Weigang had filed an appeal against the construction of the 18-turbine wind farm in the Hancock County territories of T16 MD and T22 MD, but were rejected.

Maine Audubon’s report asserts that all concerns will be taken into account, as there will be a site-by-site review.

“The location and siting of wind developments is a complex issue, and while there is a broad array of important concerns — impacts to the local economy, tourism, outdoor recreation, regional power supplies, local residents, and scenic views — Maine Audubon has always focused its concern on wildlife and habitat,” the report stated.

According to the report, at least 15 percent of the acreage needs to be developed in order to meet the state goal of 3,000-megawatt capacity of land-based wind energy by 2030.

This would require 600 more wind turbines to be constructed, which would produce enough energy to power between 675,000 and 900,000 homes.

Maine Audubon maintains that it is possible to develop wind farms without compromising sensitive habitats.

Maine generated 884,000 megawatt-hours of wind power in 2012, which displaced an estimated 535,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a report issued by Environment Maine last month.