FOMB Encourages UMaine to Reconsider Wind Project

Dr. Paul W. Ferguson
President
University of Maine
Office of the President
5703 Alumni Hall, Suite 200
Orono, ME 04469

Dear President Ferguson:

While The Friends of Muscongus Bay believe in the potential benefits of alternative technologies, we have, in a little over three weeks, built a coalition of more than 100 people and organizations that are opposed to the siting of the Maine Aqua Ventus (MAV) wind test site currently under consideration for Monhegan Island.  This diverse group – lobstermen, business owners, year-round residents and seasonal homeowners – has been meeting weekly since its inception and its membership continues to grow.  A reason why the organization appears to have coalesced at the eleventh hour is that notices for public comment about the project were placed in a paper outside of the county (in the Herald Gazette in Rockland) rather than in the local paper covering the county where the project will be situated (The Lincoln County News).

Our concerns can be broadly categorized in three important areas – lack of trust, negative economic impact, and negative environmental impact.

1. Lack of Trust.  MAV continues to skirt questions asked by the public regarding costs to the area (“We won’t know until we do it.”) and benefits to the area (“I’m sure we can negotiate something.”).  At a meeting with five selectively invited lobstermen last week, opponents of the project were offered payment to “attend meetings.” One said he had been offered a job.  Given that it appears not a single lobsterman who fishes the Bay has spoken in favor of the project, this is astounding.  Of course, all five refused.  There are persistent and credible reports about local officials being paid by MAV for their service and, perhaps, their acquiescence on the proposed project.  We, and news organizations in Portland and Bangor, are vigorously pursuing these reports.

Does the University of Maine want the reputation of being unscrupulous in its research and business practices?

2. Negative Economic Impact.  The area’s economy is driven by its working fishing villages and the tourists it attracts to experience “the real Maine.” The current project site will remove at a minimum two square miles of fishing grounds from near Monhegan Island, lay a cable across Monhegan Bay that will impact all lobstermen and shrimp and scallop fisherman up and down the Bay, and dredge the working New Harbor, with an uncertain impact, making a very difficult industry all the more difficult.  The lobstermen fear loss of equipment, loss of area to fish, and loss of livelihood.

Does the University of Maine want the reputation of ruining Maine’s working waterfront to further its research and commercial interests?

The test turbines will be visible from several National Historic Sites, including the Pemaquid Point Light House. This iconic lighthouse, featured on the Maine State quarter and which draws thousands to the peninsula every summer, will have its historic sea view altered for generations. Seasonal residents in the area are concerned about declines in their property values since the wind farm is not situated beyond the horizon, as advocated by Senator Susan Collins.

Does the University of Maine want the reputation of damaging Maine’s tourism industry and property values to further its research and commercial interests?

3. Negative Environmental Impact. There has been no action to address the issues raised by the Maine Audubon Society in their letter of 8 November 2012 (when Stat Oil was proposing use of the site) regarding the possible adverse impact on several endangered and protected species in the area, including Roseate Terns and Atlantic Puffins. We believe siting the project in the current migratory path may violate the Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.  While difficult to quantify the impact on marine life, spawning herring and the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whales have also been spotted within the test area. 

Does the University of Maine want the reputation of causing harm to numerous endangered and protected species to further its research and commercial interests?

We continue to be dumbfounded as to how this site could have been deemed proper by the state.  When we asked the MAV folks why a site further north, which would have much less impact both economically and environmentally, wasn't selected, we were told because "it was too expensive."  This is amazingly short-sighted.  The myriad costs and negative impacts on the area of the currently proposed site were never truly considered. It was just "less expensive."

Does the University of Maine care about its reputation?

We urge your reconsideration of moving forward with this project as currently constituted.

Respectfully,

Dr. Andrew Fenniman
Friends of Muscongus Bay

cc.
Todd Saucier
President/Executive Director
UMaine Alumni Association
todd.saucier@umit.maine.edu

Derrick Rossignol
eic@mainecampus.com

Dr. David Danielson
Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
Forrestal Building
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585