Posted 28 June 2011, by Stephen Betts, Knox Village Soup (Herald Gazette), knox.villagesoup.com
There was substantial and competent evidence to support the state’s decision to select a site off Monhegan Island for one of the demonstration wind power projects, a state judge has ruled.
The ruling by Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm rejected arguments by environmental activist Ron Huber of Rockland that the state had failed to meet state laws and guidelines.
Huber filed a lawsuit in January 2010 against the selection of a site two miles to the east of Monhegan for the test site. The Rockland man claimed that the demonstration wind power site known as the Maine Offshore Wind Energy Research Center could harm birds and the environment.
Justice Hjelm, however, issued an order that detailed the process used by the Maine Department of Conservation to consider the impact of the project on the environment including on birds and on the views of people on the island.
The state’s decision to select the site off Monhegan was not arbitrary or capricious, the judge stated in his order filed June 27 in Knox County Superior Court.
The test offshore wind power facility would be two miles off the island and not be visible to the majority of visitors and residents, the judge found.
Justice Hjelm ruled that Huber had standing to appeal the state’s selection to the courts. The University of Maine, which operates the DeepCWind Consortium, had argued that Huber had no standing to appeal the selection.
In his initial lawsuit, Huber said the designation of waters off Monhegan as a test site violates his constitutional rights to practice his religious stewardship of Penobscot Bay.
According to the Wind Consortium website, led by University of Maine researchers, the state is poised to test a scale model of a floating offshore wind turbine next summer near Monhegan. The prototype is meant to test technology ahead of a pilot wind farm in 2017.