An Act To Improve Wind Energy Development Permitting
Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §3451, sub-§1-A is enacted to read:
Sec. 2. 35-A MRSA §3452-A is enacted to read:
§ 3452-A. Impact on subalpine forest habitat; adverse effect
In making findings regarding the effect of a grid-scale wind energy development on the natural environment pursuant to Title 38, section 484, the primary siting authority shall consider any portion of the generating facilities or associated facilities of the development located within a fir-heartleaved birch subalpine forest natural vegetation community as defined by rule by the Natural Areas Program established within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry under Title 12, section 544, as constituting a significant adverse effect on the natural environment.
Sec. 3. 35-A MRSA §3459 is enacted to read:
§ 3459. Best practical mitigation
Sec. 4. 38 MRSA §344, sub-§2-A, ¶D is enacted to read:
(1) If 5 or more interested persons request in writing that the commissioner hold a public hearing, then a hearing must be held as provided in section 345-A.
(2) The commissioner shall hold an adjudicatory hearing under Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 4 if an interested party who qualifies as an intervenor makes such a request in writing stating the intent to offer a witness or cross-examine a witness.
(3) The commissioner shall accept public comment on applications during the course of processing the application. The commissioner shall set a deadline for receiving public comments.
(4) The commissioner may not issue the final decision until 10 business days after the close of the public comment period. The commissioner's final decision must include responses to the public comments.
This bill improves the permitting process for wind energy development by providing for public comment and the opportunity for the public to request a hearing and by permitting an intervenor to request an adjudicatory proceeding. The bill provides that wind energy development constitutes a significant adverse effect on the natural environment if proposed in a fir-heartleaved birch subalpine forest natural vegetation community. The bill also requires that a wind energy permit must require best practical mitigation to reduce impacts on scenic, wildlife and other resources.