Oral arguments were heard earlielr today before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in a landmark case in Maine that is certain to serve as legal precedent for future land wind turbine cases. It’s a test case that could have major ramifications on land wind energy deveopment in the future. A decision in the case is pending and might take months to be issued by the Court.
The Friends of Lincoln Lake contended in a lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Protection that information the department used to issue a permit to FirstWind to construct 40 wind towers in Aroostook County was “flawed.” Lynne Williams, attorney for the Friends said that she was “proud to be the first to argue this matter” in the State of Maine. Williams maintained that the “health and safety of Maine people was not taken into consideration” when the permit was issued. She asserted that the “decisions were not based on ample and creditable information.”
The attorney for the state’s department of environmental protection said that it is authorized to monitor and shut down wind towers should evolving science indicate that their presence is detrimental to the health and safety of neighbors – in response to a question from one of the justices. She also said that the model used in this case was a “world-wide” model. The back and forth between the Court and the attorney’s continued in what was a “very rigorous and engaged court,” typical in this arena.
Attending the oral argument in Portland were a few members of the 100+ members of the Friends of Lincoln Lake. One of them was Gordon Johnson who said: “The birds think it’s a cornfield and the tips are going over 150 miles an hour.” Initially, the rigorous questioning of Lynne Williams had Johnson discouraged. But when he saw it was equally applied to all three attorneys in the case, he felt encouraged.
Allen Barrette, property owner on Long Pond, whose 41 acre tree farm abuts the wind power development said following the oral argument: “Lincoln is a big, open valley. Noise resonates there. There are no barriers to the noise. Espeically over the many lakes in the area. Everyone will hear it.” Barrette, a small business owner in southen Maine, intends to retire there some day went on to say that: “The town made the decision to allow permiting without notifying abutting property owners. There was no town meeting,” he said clearly annoyed.
FirstWind, the developer of the project, is Massachusetts-based. The company is one of the, if not the largest players in the land wind power development east of the Mississippi. The company has an office in the Old Port section of Portland. Kurt Adams of the Portland office is a former employee of the PUC which has caused some concern about conflict of interest in some corners.