Publication Details

The Maine Wind Energy Act… in a time of change

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DeWan, Terry

Year Published

2018

Publication

In: Gobster, Paul H.; Smardon, Richard C., eds. Visual resource stewardship conference proceedings: landscape and seascape management in a time of change; 2017 November 7-9; Lemont, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-183.

Abstract

The 2008 Maine Wind Energy Act (WEA) established a protocol for assessing potential visual impacts of wind turbines on the Maine landscape (Maine Legislature 2003a). The WEA stipulates that vwind project visual impact assessments (VIAs) must consider several factors, including impacts on scenic resources of state or national significance (SRSNS); existing character of the surrounding area; viewer expectations; the extent, nature and duration of public uses of SRSNSs; and potential effect on continued use and enjoyment. The WEA also defined SRSNSs; set a fixed 8‐mile limit for viewshed evaluation; and allowed for expedited permitting within large portions of the state, excluding those areas with ecological, recreational, and scenic values. This paper reviews several significant changes to the visual impact assessment protocols of the WEA that have been proposed and/or enacted as a result of public opposition to the law over the past decade. These include: A change in the law that allows communities to opt out of expedited permitting review (41 have opted out), Amendments to the Site Location Application that address user surveys, public comments, photosimulations,cumulative visual impacts, significance ratings for SRSNS, and burden of proof, Limitations of the responsibilities of the State's peer reviewers who provide an objective evaluation of VIAs, Pending legislation to increase the area of potential visual effect to 15 miles for projects located near designatedscenic resources (e.g., Acadia National Park), Proposed rules that address—among other things—determination of reasonableness of visual impacts.

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Citation

DeWan, Terry. 2018. The Maine Wind Energy Act… in a time of change. In: Gobster, Paul H.; Smardon, Richard C., eds. Visual resource stewardship conference proceedings: landscape and seascape management in a time of change; 2017 November 7-9; Lemont, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-183. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. https://doi.org/10.2737/NRS-GTR-P-183-VCS-6.

Last updated on: December 20, 2018