An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Expedited Permitting for Wind Energy Development
Emergency preamble. Whereas, acts and resolves of the Legislature do not become effective until 90 days after adjournment unless enacted as emergencies; and
Whereas, the laws governing expedited permitting for wind energy development do not adequately restrict wind energy development from areas where it is inappropriate; and
Whereas, the Legislature anticipates an increase in the number of wind energy development proposals in the future; and
Whereas, the changes made by this legislation need to take effect as soon as possible to avoid allowing development to proceed in areas where its impacts would be untenably harmful; and
Whereas, in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety; now, therefore,
Sec. 1. 35-A MRSA §3451, sub-§3, as amended by PL 2015, c. 265, §3 and affected by §10, is further amended to read:
Sec. 2. 35-A MRSA §3451, sub-§10-B, as reallocated by RR 2015, c. 1, §39, is amended to read:
Sec. 3. 35-A MRSA §3452, sub-§3, as amended by PL 2015, c. 190, §4, is further amended to read:
In applying these criteria, the primary siting authority shall consider the primary impact and the cumulative scenic impact or effect of the development during both day and night on scenic resources of state or national significance. In evaluating cumulative scenic impact or effect associated with sequential observation, the department shall consider, in addition to the criteria in this subsection, the distance between viewpoints on the linear route and other forms of development along the linear route that effect the expectation of the user of the scenic resource of state or national significance. A finding by the primary siting authority that the development's generating facilities are a highly visible feature in the landscape is not a solely sufficient basis for determination that an expedited wind energy project has an unreasonable adverse effect on the scenic character and existing uses related to scenic character of a scenic resource of state or national significance. In making its determination under subsection 1, the primary siting authority shall consider insignificant the effects of portions of the development's generating facilities located more than 8 40 miles, measured horizontally, from a scenic resource of state or national significance.
Sec. 4. 35-A MRSA §3452, sub-§4, as enacted by PL 2007, c. 661, Pt. A, §7, is amended to read:
Emergency clause. In view of the emergency cited in the preamble, this legislation takes effect when approved.
This bill amends the laws governing expedited permitting for wind energy development by changing the definition of "expedited permitting area" to mean specified places that are identified by rule and the eastern portion of Aroostook County, specifically described as the Town of St. Francis, St. John Plantation, the Town of Fort Kent, the Town of Wallagrass, the Town of Eagle Lake, Winterville Plantation, T14 R6 W.E.L.S., the Town of Portage Lake, Nashville Plantation, Garfield Plantation, T10 R6 W.E.L.S., Oxbow Plantation, the portion of Aroostook County east of those municipalities and also all municipalities in Aroostook County that are wholly located south of the northernmost extent of Penobscot County, excluding Cary Plantation and Molunkus Township.
The bill changes from 8 miles to 40 miles the farthest distance from a proposed expedited wind energy development for which a visual impact assessment for potentially affected scenic resources of state or national significance may be required.