Cohocton Wind Watch: Foes file lawsuit to block Aroostook wind project
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Foes file lawsuit to block Aroostook wind project

Opponents of a soon-to-be-started wind farm in the Aroostook County town of Oakfield took legal action Tuesday in a last-minute attempt to stop the project.

They filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Bangor, aimed at a 50-turbine wind farm to be erected by First Wind of Boston through its subsidiary, Evergreen Wind II LLC. Initial road construction is set to begin before winter on the 150-megawatt project.

A key focus of the complaint, reviewed by the Portland Press Herald, is that the dredging and filling associated with the 59 miles of transmission lines needed to connect the wind farm to the regional power grid would degrade streams that support Atlantic salmon and violate the federal Clean Water Act. The complaint names the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of the Interior as defendants.

A spokesman for First Wind, John Lamontagne, said the company hadn’t yet reviewed the complaint. But he noted that the Army Corps and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service thoroughly reviewed the $400 million project and its impacts, and concluded that it complied with federal laws.

“We believe this project will be able to deliver significant economic benefits to the region and the town of Oakfield while generating clean renewable energy that will power thousands of homes,” Lamontagne said.

The Oakfield lawsuit mirrors a legal tactic used last year by wind power foes who are trying to block an expansion of the Kibby Mountain wind farm in northwestern Maine. That case is still pending.

Nearly seven years since Maine’s first wind farm went up on Mars Hill, controversy continues over the visual, noise and environmental impacts of power production around the state’s rural lakes and mountains. Opponents have been increasingly frustrated by plans for larger wind farms, a result of changing technology and new, long-term contracts for renewable energy with utilities in southern New England. In Oakfield and at TransCanada’s planned expansion on Sisk Mountain in Franklin County, they see a potential legal path to challenge permits in federal courts.

“Part of this shifts (opposition) from the turbines to the water bodies,” said Lynne Williams, a lawyer representing Oakfield opponents.

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