Feb 22, 2010

Maine DeepCwind Consortium may drop Monhegan location for alternative Downeast site.

MONHEGAN ISLAND. Four members of the DeepCwind Consortium gave a presentation on Monhegan on February 16th, and  then took questions from island residents and from an opponent of the Consortium's plan to build and operate floating offshore wind test platforms south of  the wind-tossed scenic island.

Representing the Consortium were the University of Maine's Elizabeth Viselli, Jake Ward, Robert Lindyberg,  and Suzanne Pude of the Island Institute's Community Wind program. Collectively they described the history of ocean windfarming and the reasons for promoting it in Maine waters now, and described the technology they propose installing two miles south of the island.

While islanders at the meeting in the Monhegan schoolhouse were appreciative overall of the consortium's efforts and supportive of their ingenuity in seeking out renewable energy,  concerns were raised on a variety of fronts: noise and infrasound pollution, loss of fishing grounds access, visual pollution, and seabird mortality. Some island residents said that the state's decision to site near Monhegan took place without consulting them, in effect leaving them out of the loop . 

In response to those and other concerns, the DeepCwind representatives at the meeting agreed to drop the Monhegan location for an alternative site, if shown there are too many likely impacts to Monhegan's people, birds, scenic beauty and/or fishing  from their operation.  Jake Ward of the consortium said: " If everybody says that it totally makes no sense, then we'll have to look at one of the other test sites."    Listen to DeepCwind presenters  Read transcript of  followup question and answer session (pdf).

Most praised the overall process, but urged the consortium to be careful to determine ahead of time whether the windmills could  harm the island plantation's arts colonies, its thriving tourist trade, its fame as a birder's paradise and its lobster fisheries and groundfisheries. They also wondered if the political clout of DeepCwind Consortium members like BIW and Cianbro could overwhelm their voices before the government.  

While all welcomed the idea of  lower cost  non-petroleum-based electricity, they also voiced concerns, including the potential for the state's lease to be taken up by a  commercial operator. Some noted that the planning and decisionmaking process seems to be shaping up as one where Monhegan itself has little say beyond a consultative role.

The consortium members also noted interest by the aquaculture industry and by  tidal power researchers to also locate in the test area south of Monhegan.

Penobscot Bay activist Ron Huber briefly outlined his lawsuit in Maine Superior Court  over the state decision to designate a test area off Monhegan.

The wind researchers also revealed that the Baldacci Administration is about to bring a bill before the Legislature that would allow fast-tracking of commercial windfarm leases, throughout Maine state waters. Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree confirmed  the bill,  predicting  it to go public within the next few weeks. 

The final decision by DeepCwind on whether to stay with the Monhegan site may rest upon Maine Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm'  rulings as he considers the case,  Huber vs Bureau of Parks and Lands, in which plaintiff Huber  argues that the Bureau of Parks and Lands failed to adequately consider the impacts to Monhegan and the surrounding ecosystems before choosing it as host to the state's offshore test site. Huber is asking that the R&D site be moved to another of the alternative offshore locations that were under consideration by the state.

Ward and Pude promised to keep Monheganers abreast of developments.

PHOTOS: 1. Jake Ward of DeepCWind Consortium giving presentation to Monhegan residents February 16, 2010 Photo by RonHuber 2, View of  Monhwegan's Christmas Cove that would include windmills under state plan. February 16, 2010  Photo by Ron Huber. 3. Monhegan surrounded by windstorm whitecaps. Photo NASA


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this info. It’s what wasn’t said that is critical. Augusta, with Salazar’s blessing, will push through the draft bill on opening up coastal waters (state) for commercial wind development, probably within the next 3 months. UMO and Consortium strongly support it, in spite of their public focus on deepwater offshore development. The nucleus of the Consortium is composite materials – doesn’t matter where blades operate – they stand to make big money – the Consortium is a business. Watch Neptune Wind – they have already put into place the early stages of permit application and enviro consulting for mid-coast (Metinic) area alone - 40-60 turbines proposed there and have at least 2 other additional sites eyed. The long-term goal by the Consortium at the UMO site is to have a 25+ turbine commercial wind farm in a step-process over the next 20 years. This could happen even if they ‘sell’ their lease or if the demo sites become, through the proposed bill, commercial sites. I can’t see any interest in funding cabling if there weren’t going to be commercial interests at the site. Follow this up and confirm as much as you can.

Ron Huber said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Huber:

Do you see anything unethical about blogging about your efforts to sue the DOC in this manner? In this post and another I read, you describe yourself in the thrid person, as if you did not write the post. You say, "A Rockland man has filed suit..." giving the impression that you are not that man. In the reader's mind, there is a notion that you will then, in a journalistic fasion, provide objective information - instead you go on to promote your cause and portray "Ron Huber" as, I daresay, a hero. You even weave in quotes from yourself, as if you interviewed yourself.

If you want to convince people of your argument, you should come out and say who you are and what your opinions are. This is very misleading.

Anonymous said...

Once again, you are providing incorrect information AND seriously spinning otherwise factual information.

I hope your case gets thrown out--we can protect our own interests, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Since when is there a cable? Anyone who was at that meeting can confirm that at least the people from UMaine have no money for a cable and were only open to it if islanders supported it. Shame on you being so dishonest!

Ron Huber said...

Penobscot Bay Blog being his outlet for opinion and news about the bay, Huber is of course free to write in whatever tense suits: 1st person, 2nd person, third; present tense, past tense, future perfect...Even now, he finds a 3rd person present tense sufficient to reply to your comment that was, after all, sent an hour and 45 minutes ago.

As his writings are copied and e-served elsewhere, they may lose their Penobscot Bay Bloggian imprimatur. At such time, the words must stand upon their own legs; the use of first person pronouns would make it too unwieldy, insufficiently impersonal in tone for the reader to give it more than a passing glance.

Thus we blog.

Ron Huber said...

Poor anonymous: When you wrote "Since when is there a cable? Anyone who was at that meeting can confirm ..."

You are complaining about what the Monheganers and the UMainers said in a transcript of the meeting. The cable discussion is their topic, not mine. Neither you nor anyone else has a jot of say in what the Monheganers' positions are, beyond they themselves. In fact there are probably as many positions on wind turbines on and offshore Monhegan as there are Monhegan residents, full and part time.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Mr Huber:

Your sarcastic answer to my direct observation truly evades the matter at hand. In fact, your response reinforces the unethical nature of your writing style. Your aim is to have your blog posts picked up by other websites - however, you write as though you are someone promoting Ron Huber, as though you agree with his perspectives and are going out of your way to write a long, detailed post about him. As though you find his convictions so just and strong that you must promote his vision.

Bloggers are held to ethical standards which you are dodging. Any time you pass off a piece of writing for something it is not, you deceive readers and do the public an injustice. You have every right to sue the government as a concerned citizen - as a blogger, you have a right to self-promotion. You also have a duty to portray that self-promotion in an honest light. The style of your writing, as well as your evasive response to my observation, reveals that you are unwilling to admit this. The transparency of your bias will cause some, such as me, who would ordinarily see the sense of your cause to dismiss you entirely.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Huber's motto is along the lines of: "Who needs ethics when you have poorly written prose, some incorrect information to share, and an Internet connection?"