Petition filed for judicial review of wind power project decision

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Protesters gather in front of the Spectacular Events Center in Bangor on Jan. 5, where the Land Use Regulation Commission voted to approve the Sisk Mountain wind power expansion in northern Franklin County. (Photo by Jake Hanstein)

FARMINGTON – An organization in opposition to an 11-turbine expansion of the Kibby Wind Power Project has filed a petition with the Maine Supreme Court, asking for a judicial review of the Land Use Regulation Commission decision which approved the project.

On Jan. 5, the LURC board voted 5 to 1 to approve an expansion to the 44-turbine Kibby project, running 11 turbines down the Sisk Mountain Ridge. That outcome was expected, following an earlier decision in December 2010 to instruct the LURC staff to draft a document approving the new project. The expansion represented a scaled-down version of a 15-turbine proposal LURC voted down in July.

The Friends of the Boundary Mountains, a conservation advocacy group focusing on the mountains of western Maine, was an intervening organization throughout LURC’s approval process. The group, which has opposed other wind power projects in the past, filed a petition for judicial review with the state’s highest court Monday.

The petition alleges that the altered proposal submitted by TransCanada, downsizing the project after a vote by LURC which instructed its staff to draft a rejection, was not adequately scrutinized by the agency.

“It’s clear the changed proposal never received the required scrutiny by LURC that the original proposal did,” Bob Weingarten, FBM representative said, in a prepared statement, “otherwise it never would have passed muster.”

The petition also claims that that LURC wrongly excluded data which the FBM wanted to present regarding the electricity generation at the Kibby Wind Power Project.

A representative of TransCanada said his company is well aware of the petition filed this  week.

“We will be defending the LURC’s decision,” Kibby Project Manager Nick Di Domenico said.

A judicial review, if initiated would focus on whether LURC followed the correct process, not whether a wind power expansion is appropriate on Sisk Mountain.

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