AG: Executive order doesn't change state law on wind power

IndustriesAssociated Press

Maine's attorney general is pushing back on Republican Gov. Paul LePage's announcements of a moratorium on new wind power projects and creation of a secretive commission to study the impact of wind turbines on tourism.

Janet Mills, a Democrat, said Monday that the governor's executive order does not change existing state law, and that her office will advise agencies on what to do if a company does request a permit during the governor's moratorium.

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She said she's concerned about the impact of the governor's order on investment in the University of Maine's offshore wind power demonstrator project.

Maine has more wind turbines than the other five New England states combined. Supporters say the wind industry has created much-needed construction jobs in the state.

In his executive order, LePage said that the benefit of wind turbines is "uncertain." The governor generally has opposed wind power because its cost means that it needs to be subsidized.

There is no timetable for the commission to report its findings.

In the interim, the commissioners' discussions, agendas, minutes and documents will be shielded from public view thanks to an exception to Maine's Freedom of Access Act.

The governor chose to use that FOAA exemption "so that commission members can feel empowered to speak freely," said Julie Rabinowitz, the governor's press secretary.

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