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Champlain Wind, LLC v. Board of Environmental Protection

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

December 3, 2015

CHAMPLAIN WIND, LLC
v.
BOARD OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Argued April 8, 2015.

On the briefs: Juliet T. Browne, Esq., Scott D. Anderson, Esq., and Gordon R. Smith, Esq., Verrill Dana, LLP, Portland, for appellant Champlain Wind, LLC.

Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Margaret A. Bensinger, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee Department of Environmental Protection.

Frederick F. Costlow, Esq., Richardson, Whitman, Large & Badger, Bangor, for amicus curiae Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed.

Sean Mahoney, Esq., Conservation Law Foundation, Portland, for amicus curiae Conservation Law Foundation.

At oral argument: Juliet T. Browne, Esq., for appellant Champlain Wind, LLC.

Margaret A. Bensinger, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee Department of Environmental Protection.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and CLIFFORD, JJ.

OPINION

SAUFLEY, C.J.

[¶1] Champlain Wind, LLC, appeals from a decision of the Board of Environmental Protection in which the Board considered and balanced competing statutorily defined policies applicable to wind energy projects in Maine. The applicable statutes establish the dual policies of expediting

Page 280

wind energy development in defined geographic areas of Maine and at the same time providing enhanced protection for specific scenic resources. Champlain proposed the Bowers Wind Project to be situated within, but very near, the geographic border of the expedited permitting area. Within sight of the proposed wind turbines lie several scenic resources of state or national significance. On the record before us, we do not disturb the Board's balancing of the Legislature's policies, and we affirm the Board's denial of a permit for the Project.

I. COMPETING LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

[¶2] In 2004, the Maine Legislature enacted the Maine Wind Energy Act,[1] and in 2008, it enacted additional statutes governing " Expedited Permitting of Grid-Scale Wind Energy Development." [2] As subsequently amended, the Wind Energy Act has a stated purpose to " encourage the development, where appropriate, of wind energy production in the State." 35-A M.R.S. § 3402 (2014). To support and expedite permitting of wind energy projects, an " expedited permitting area" has been established to " reduce the potential for controversy regarding siting of grid-scale wind energy development by expediting development in places where it is most compatible with existing patterns of ...


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