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Environment and Outdoors

Opponents Seek To Block Wind Power Project Off Monhegan Island

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press/file
The University of Maine's prototype wind turbine generator off the coast of Castine in 2013.

Several hundred Midcoast Maine residents have signed a petition opposing the planned Maine Aqua Ventus wind power project off Monhegan Island. Evy Blum, of the Preserve Our Remarkable Town, a group opposed to the project, says many St. George residents fear that siting the 576-foot high floating turbines off the island will negatively impact local fishing grounds and the region's tourism industry.

"Putting an industrial plant a few miles off shore and then bringing the cable for the transmission of power into this tiny village and bringing it straight up the peninsula would really disrupt both of those activities - tourism especially, and lobstering and fishermen, absolutely," Blum says.

Partners in the Aqua Ventus wind turbine project off Monhegan Island say considerable misinformation circulated by opponents of the initiative regarding the plan's alleged negative impact on fishing and tourism will be corrected in upcoming dialogues with residents of St. George.  Jeffrey Thaler,  associate university counsel for UMaine — a partner in the project — said those erroneous details will be corrected.

"Information that's been apparently distributed among some people does not accurately reflect the project plans, so this is not uncommon," says Thaler. "I've been doing projects like this for over 30 years in Maine and we know there are concerns from the public and we will provide  accurate information and people can then make up their minds once they have both sides heard."

Blum says her group will deliver its petition to the St. George Town office Tuesday.

"We the undersigned do hereby urge the select board to take all steps necessary to prevent the landing of offshore wind electric cable onto any property owned by the town of St. George," Blum said.

Blum says her group also favors an amendment to the St. George shore land zoning ordinance similar to one advanced by another community that creates a permitting process for utility installations such as a turbine-to-shore cable.

A spokesman for the University of Maine and the Aqua Ventus initiative, has stated that the project is supported by many area residents and that re-siting the turbines is not an option at this point.