The “thirty pieces of silver” bill.

Some here have wondered about what sort of economic benefits Monhegan might gain from becoming  “host community” to the University of Maine’s wind turbine research operations. What wergild, if any, would be acceptable?

Today at the Maine Legislature,  there was a work session of the Utilities and Energy Committee on LD 1504, which has been renamed and entirely rewritten  as  “An Act to Provide Predictable Economic Benefits to Maine Communities that Host Wind Power Projects.” (copy not available)

To listen to the Committee discuss the LD 1504 on Feb 2, 2010 with Pete Didisheim of Natural Resources Council of Maine, Click Here (15 minute mp3.)

This bill is a try at establishing a payout system to compensate Maine host communities for wind extraction-related degradation of their scenic and other natural assets by the sonic and visual pollution that is sometimes a byproduct of contemporary wind turbine technology.  Compensation is also
being  considered for the no-go areas around and above wind farms set up for safety and security purposes.

Highlights of the worksession At the worksession the Utilities and Energy committee’s staff policy analyst Lucia Nixon  said that  the re-written bill  “will specify community benefit agreements that windpower developers be required to have with host communities, and the nature and level of payments under those agreements, provide more specificity in the statutes regarding tangible benefits, and the documentation of those benefits.

She said the stakeholders (who are they?)  were charged a week ago by the Committee to work together. They met last  Friday, and the Utilities and Energy Committee staffer has been reviewing these stakes’ drafts by email as late as noon today. (2/2/10)

Pete Didisheim of NRCM  spoke at the work session for the selected group of stakeholders who are hammering out the wording of the bill.  Pete told the committee that they’d come a long way in the last week but were “not quite there yet“.  He said the discussion group expects to be done by Tuesday February 9th and would  deliver something  “that  has the full support of the stakeholders and all the parties, and fully vetted through the agencies, the wind comunity and all the interested parties.”

At present, however, he said there are “still a few issues. So rather than present it in its current form, we’d like  to bring you the final product. when we can walk  through it carefully and  describe exactly what we disagree on.”   

One of those issues is who levies such a tax? The affected municipality? The state? Federal government?  “There’s quite a bit of concern as you can imagine,” Pete said,  “about that potentially being siphoned off to…other areas”

So have Pete and other stakeholders been talking to Monhegan?  Are Monheganians feeling “vetted”?