LePage moves to block most new Maine wind energy permits
AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday placed a moratorium on permits for most new wind turbines in Maine, a move that could reverberate regionally a day before Massachusetts is set to announce winners in a massive clean power procurement plan.
It’s an aggressive move from the Republican who called wind a “boutique energy source” in 2012. But wind energy has boomed during his administration, going from 4 percent of Maine’s power generation in January 2011 to 20 percent in January 2017, according to federal data.
An executive order from LePage on Wednesday created the Maine Wind Energy Advisory Commission to study turbines’ impact on the environment, property values and tourism and said “no permits related to wind turbines” will be issued in certain areas until the commission releases its report.
The order is unclear on the affected region, saying protected areas include western Maine, coastal areas and bird migration pathways. But Steven McGrath, LePage’s energy adviser, said it intends to exempt eastern Aroostook County, where there are already turbines in Mars Hill.
LePage’s order came a day before Massachusetts is due to pick preliminary winners from 46 proposals from bidders aiming to help the commonwealth procure more than 9.4 million megawatt hours of new renewable power by 2022. The awards will kick off negotiations with the selected projects.
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