Looks like the NEHH Six Pack is going to be looking different in the future


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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH

If you look at the inset map, the proposed farm west of Eustis lines up with the "six pack" peaks. The applications for the power supply contracts do not contain any specific siting info that I could locate so exactly where the farm or farms are built are speculation on my part. Years ago during the first wind rush, a developer tied in with Zond Wind had installed wind monitoring equipment on the West Kennebago tower for a proposed wind farm. It was within sight of the enclave of private camps and the private sporting camp on Kennebago lake. The owners of these camps tend to be well heeled individuals who like their privacy and reportedly anyone attempting to drive down the road would be met by a caretaker and turned around. They had political clout and behind the scenes they "encouraged" the developer to go elsewhere allegedly by threatening to keep the project in court for years. One high profile frequent visitor was Barbara Walters. The developer eventually moved the project to the Kibby Range and about 25 years later a wind farm was built and a second one followed.

One of the Maine native tribes owns Snow Mtn (east of Big Island Pond) and has been actively monitoring wind but has not yet developed the site. Access to Boundary Peak would be difficult as the topo to the east is steep so any access would need to parallel the US boundary swath. This leaves the Whitecap Kennebago divide range with possibly Cupsuptic Snow as ideal wind sites as they have reasonable wind exposure and the ridge line is potentially suitable for an access road. East Kennebago is also a prime location but given its location relative to Kennebago lake it may also suffer the wrath of camp owners

The main reason this area of Maine lacks wind development currently is lack of transmission line capacity locally and downstream. Central Maine Power completed a major transmission line upgrade a few years ago partially funded by all New England ratepayers. Prior to that project, the grid in Maine was constrained so that when southern New England wanted power Maine had limited capacity to supply it. Now that the big money was spent, well connected entrepreneurs are rushing in to use of that capacity preferably using southern New England rate payers to pay for it. Unlike Northern Pass in NH , the Maine government is actively supporting transmission projects so eminent domain is available to site the transmission lines with little recourse to the landowners.

Maine used to have fairly extensive protections in place for unorganized territorys which lack local government but coinciding with the change in administrations, the regulations have been watered down making permitting easier. Some wind farms have been blocked generally in areas where there are private inholdings typically along remote lakes but to date wind farms in traditional commercial timberland tend to get approved. Maine Audubon, who used to oppose wind turbines was bought off a few years ago so there isn't a lot of viable opposition with the exception of one or two entities that earn a living off of opposing wind projects http://news.mpbn.net/post/settlement-ag-maine-anti-wind-group-must-reform#stream/0.

The reality is if incentives keep getting thrown at intermittent wind projects, its likely the Six Pack area if not the Six Pack itself is in for changes. To someone just out to click summits off a list it may be plus as I expect the roads and bridges will be upgraded and maintained to a higher standard. Of course, the owners could also elect to block access to the roads so the hike in could be a lot longer. I personally will miss the adventure of heading up there, it required planning and was always a risk that the road or bridge that was open last year would be closed this year. It also gave a lot of folks their first real up close exposure to the vast commercial timberlands that cover much of Maine.
In assessing the economic impact on Maine, I hope they consider some loss in tourism associated with certain locations. In addition to some loss of tourism due to aesthetics, there is an impact on wildlife that could effect hunting and the associated revenues.
I would suggest that we keep the governor bashing out of this as some members are not of the same mind. Both Angus King and John Baldacci have or have had a hand in wind farm development in Maine so it is not one specific individual politician behind the wind effort in Maine.

The intent of the article is to give some background to the potential project and how it came to be . Unlike the multitude of wind farms in the rest of Maine which are out of sight and out of mind to the vast majority of hikers this development is most likely going to be a surprise to those going for the NEHH in the future. Its surprising how often I have run into folks who have headed up in the north country of NH (north of RT2) who don't even know about the large wind farm in the Millsfield area. As the population rapidly drains out of much of rural maine I expect the wind farms may be the only reason the roads get plowed.
Sounds like from reading the article and comments this is just more big government and business collusion under the guise of promoting clean energy. The politicians (on both sides) get to tout their record of promoting clean energy and the energy companies get to make profits from projects that utilize large government subsidies. Sounds like same old fleecing that is the norm and that we the people complain about yet just keep on electing these folks on both sides of the political spectrum who are entrenched in it all. Apologies for the cynicism.
Can't discuss wind power without discussing the politics of it. It goes hand in hand. Its a political decision to push wind power. Its a political cecision to give tax breaks for building towers and transmission lines. Its a political desision to decide if the energy generated is worth permanently spoiling a view or restricting access to an area with towers. Its a political decision to withhold funding that has already been approved to conserve certain tracts of land from development. It doesnt take an economics degree to see how the dots are connected.
Can't discuss wind power without discussing the politics of it. It goes hand in hand. Its a political decision to push wind power. Its a political cecision to give tax breaks for building towers and transmission lines. Its a political desision to decide if the energy generated is worth permanently spoiling a view or restricting access to an area with towers. Its a political decision to withhold funding that has already been approved to conserve certain tracts of land from development. It doesnt take an economics degree to see how the dots are connected.

I agree, and these items, specifically, wouldn't run afoul of the section 9.3 in the Terms of Service. Whereas this,

Just one more year of Lepage...I can hardly wait.

without offering anything factual to the topic at hand, borders on political/flaming.

My feelings are my own. Im not ashamed of them. I didnt bash anyone nor can anything I wrote/said be construed as name calling. I apologize if I offended those political sensitivities.
Here is a map that shows several of the new northwest Maine mountain wind proposals and transmission lines. I believe the wind project named "Alder Stream" is at least in part on Penobscot tribal land, including Snow CoP. There may be more information located in the actual (heavily redacted) filings here: http://cleanenergyrfp.com/bids/

Folks should remember that many of the players involved are in this for the long game. For example, the emergency legislation in Maine that allows expedited siting of industrial wind installations goes back almost a decade. As a lover of the outdoors and citizen interested in energy policy, it is frustrating that many of the organizations we typically rely on to keep us informed have, IMHO, done a poor job at understanding the implications of supporting individual projects and pieces of legislation. The utility players understand the chess board; I'm not sure anyone else does.

In the OP Peakbagger hinted at some of the potential practical impacts of a wind farm in the 'NEHH six-pack area' - On the one hand possible improvements to the area's infrastructure (roads, bridges) and maybe reliable plowing in the winter (independent of any logging activity), on the other hand the potential for access issues ranging from restricting area road use for authorized personnel only to what? Could access to a given mountain or at least its summit area be blocked altogether (?)

It's likely too early to speculate on any of this but what's is the precedent in the area, like in the Kibby Range - are hikers still allowed on access roads, access to summits?
I did go through the files in the proposals. There are several references to site maps and other attachments along with deeds and right of ways but they are all blank. The recent graphic in the prior post refers to Alder Stream that runs east west south of Boundary Snow. This would imply that Cupsuptic Snow, White Cap and Kennebago Divide, would be visually impacted but may not be directly impacted sites. It is interesting the Penobscot Nation letter of support was included in the filing. Seven Islands sold a conversation easement in this region and the map on this source http://www.conservationeasement.us/browse/map shows that White Cap and Cupsuptic Snow are inside the easement which may protect them. It looks like the Kennebago Divide Summit may not be. In general I would expect the land to the east of Big Island Pond is the most likely site thus impacting Boundary Snow the most. Of course once the transmission line corridor is built, there is frequently the temptation to add more farms.

I don't have practical experience at the Kibby farms, the construction phase of the first project got some bad publicity when they were literally burying construction vehicles in mud and their sedimentation management was poor to non existent, this caused siltation issues to the woods along the roads and I believe fines. They also has a fairly major fire on one of the turbines which is covered in this link http://bangordailynews.com/2013/04/...-million-turbine-at-maines-largest-wind-farm/

There are personnel exclusion zones at the base of the wind turbines at the Millsfield NH farm which are closed to the public year round. I believe the Cohos trail had to be rerouted due to this. There are definite issues with ice shedding from the blades in winter within these zones so winter access will most likely be impacted. The Balsams development has to get Brookfield to agree to reduce the exclusion zone on some of their turbines to allow the proposed expansion of ski development. I did hear from some upset locals that the Millsfield turbine access roads were gated at one point. I don't know if that's forever or was a special occurrence.

One thing I discovered is that the original developer of the Millsfield project hired a very personable project manager who made lots of verbal commitments at public meetings. He gained a lot of local trust and support. I asked for clarification on the project managers verbal assurance that public access to the summits would be maintained and got an e-mail from him confirming it. Very soon after the commissioning was complete and the park was commercial it was sold to Brookfield Power and this individual was long gone. I have not personally tried to gain access but expect those assurances are not worth anything. The permitting process does have opportunities for public input but the reality is that unless there is a full time entity keeping an eye over the process of permitting, public input has very little influence and verbal assurances are worthless. Following permit proceedings is not something a typical person can do in their spare time, its pretty much a full time job. The "Friends of the Maine Mountains" sounds like they are looking out for the public and they may, but as I linked to previously what they really seem to be is self perpetuating entity that makes their living opposing high profile projects.

My call is for those who have these on the list they may want to go sooner than later.
That would be an interesting debate. There were comments by Gene Daniell when the NEHH list was changed so the four pack became the six pack by adding Cupsuptic Snow and Kennebago Divide that he preferred the peaks that were pushed off the list. One of them was Middle Abraham a fun little bushwhack. I cant remember the other one off hand
Thanks, I agree, nothing special about the Arm compared with Middle Abraham.
My call is for those who have these on the list they may want to go sooner than later.

I would think that the official NEHH list would be amended in some way if peaks on it were suddenly off-limits.


A number of years ago when I had a long and very nice conversation with a prominent member of the 4000 footer committee about dogs being recognized by the committee for the NE67 and the NEHH even though they had not done the peaks in Baxter park because they were not permitted in the park I was basically told as Tom just put it:
Last I checked, the list was based on facts and figures, not feelings? :rolleyes: ;)
"It doesn't matter what the difficulties are, if you haven't climbed the peaks you don't get the recognition."

By the same logic it would seem that if for whatever reason you haven't climbed all the NEHH peaks you either shouldn't be recognized for climbing them or if the rules can be changed for people they could also be changed for canines.
I was on one of Gene's last labor day hikes to the four pack. At the time, the USGS maps were getting their final revision and the 4k committee was on the cusp of changing the NEHH list as the recorded elevation of some of the summits changed. At the time, Gene's comment was that the decision of the committee was that they were going to make this one revision and then "lock" the list even if the elevations of the mountains on the list changed. There is a precedent for this as the ADK 46 list is a historical list based on information available when it was created, there are 4 summits lower and one higher than 4K so the ADK 46 would actually be the ADK 43. There was also some commentary at one point regarding the removing the PATN off the NEHH list in response to the infamous bootleg trail.

Luckily Croydon is on a lesser list but given that its on private property closed to the public it would be good precedent. Out west several of the 14K have trails on private land and one summit Culebra Peak,is privately owned and a hiker had to pay a $100 fee to hike the summit. There was also the long running controversy over the privately owned high point in Rhode Island which was surrounded by private land and the landowner prevented access. This owner apparently has been bought out and access is restored.

Obviously opinions change and Gene was just one of many members of the 4000 footer committee but it does indicate that things may not be cast in stone.