WERU News Report 2/18/14

Producer/Host: Amy Browne

The state legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology committee held a public hearing today on LD 1750 “An Act To Amend the Maine Administrative Procedure Act and Clarify Wind Energy Laws”.
The summary of the proposed bill reads: “This bill amends the Maine Administrative Procedure Act by amending the definition of “rule” and requiring that every agency decision be based on the best evidence available to the agency. The bill also amends the laws governing expedited wind energy developments to provide that in determining the tangible benefits of an expedited wind energy development, the primary siting authority may not require the submission of evidence of the energy and emissions-related benefits or make specific findings related to energy and emissions-related benefits. Those benefits are presumed. The bill also provides that in determining whether a proposed expedited wind energy development will have an unreasonable adverse effect on scenic character or existing uses and whether an applicant must provide a visual impact assessment, the primary siting authority is required to consider the energy and emissions-related benefits of the expedited wind energy development, the policy objectives of the Maine Wind Energy Act and the energy, environmental and economic benefits associated with the expedited wind energy development.”
Lindsay Newland Bowker, Environmental Risk Manager with Bowker Associates Science & Research In The Public Interest—and frequent guest on this program— says “The text of this bill comes almost verbatim out of First Winds’ appeal to its 2nd denial which is still pending before the BEP, a fact which raises questions of propriety and the suggestion of legislation influence on BEP’s decision.” That’s in reference to First Wind’s proposed 100 million dollar Bower’s Mountain wind development project downeast. Bowker also raises question about whether this committee has the proper jurisdiction to make the proposed changes.
For more of the story behind the headlines, we take you to today’s public hearing on the issue