First Wind Reaches Deal With Wary Conservation Groups

NAW Staff, Wednesday 19 February 2014 - 13:55:37

First Wind has worked with a coalition of non-profit organizations representing the Appalachian Trail to help alleviate their concerns about one of its proposed wind farms in Maine.

The nationally recognized 2,180-plus-mile Appalachian Trail footpath stretches from Maine to Georgia. First Wind has five operating wind farms in Maine and has proposed the Bingham Wind project, a 62-turbine facility located in the state.

However, the Appalachian Trail Coalition groups have expressed concerns about the potential impact that Bingham and other energy projects may have on Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) viewshed lands. Therefore, First Wind says it has entered an agreement to protect such lands in Maine through the creation of a dedicated $700,000 conservation fund.

The groups have identified the Orbeton Stream Conservation Easement Project, which is meant to protect 5,800 acres along the ANST in the western Maine high peaks area, as the intended recipient of the first $150,000 from the land conservation fund. First Wind says this would help complete the funding necessary to close on that project.

In addition to the fund, First Wind says it has agreed not to propose any additional turbines to the Bingham Wind project that would be any closer to the ANST and to install radar-activated lights on its Bingham wind turbines once the Federal Aviation Administration approves this technology. The lighting would remain off except when aircraft are in the area of the project, thereby significantly reducing potential impacts of nighttime lighting, the developer adds.

Based on the measures reflected in the agreement, the coalition groups say they do not oppose the Bingham project.

“Our organizations recognize that all energy generation sources have environmental impacts. The Bingham Wind project is no exception, and it will have an expected visual presence on the A.T.,” comments Ken Kimball, AMC’s director of research. “The A.T. coalition organizations appreciate First Wind’s willingness to voluntarily work with us to mitigate this project’s impacts and to protect lands with a connection to the ANST viewshed.”

Matt Kearns, vice president of business development for First Wind, adds, “We’re proud to work with the Appalachian Trail Coalition Groups to proactively protect important, high-priority environmental resources and areas in Maine and along the A.T.  This agreement reflects the importance that there be clean sources of renewable energy in Maine balanced with protecting important viewsheds.”




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