Friday, August 03, 2007

Energy plant a 'step backward,' critic contends

Maine Today
AP Newswire
July 26, 2007

WISCASSET — An environmental critic of a proposed $1.5
billion energy plant that would burn gas extracted from coal
challenged claims that the project would boost efforts to curb
global warming.

"This will be a step backward in our attempts to lower
greenhouse gases," Steven Hinchman, staff attorney for the
Conservation Law Foundation, said Tuesday night at an
informational meeting on the Twin River Energy Center project.

The plant, to be built on the site of the former Maine Yankee
nuclear power plant, would use coal and wood biomass to
produce electricity and diesel fuel.

Hinchman took issue with a claim by Scott Houldin, Point East's
project manager, that the type of clean diesel fuel produced at
the site would help address the global warming issue.

"Studies show the process works when you make diesel fuel out
of biomass, but not out of coal," Hinchman said, citing a 2001
Department of Energy report that said making diesel fuel out of
coal increases the carbon dioxide footprint.

Houldin said he would bring more information on carbon
dioxide tracking to another informational meeting in two weeks.

Some in the crowd of about 100 welcomed the project.

"I think it's a wonderful thing that you're putting that land to
use," said Katherine Martin Savage, a former selectwoman. "It
couldn't be any better for the town."

But Dennis Dunbar of Westport Island raised the issue of the
plant's height and its visual impact.

"I'm concerned about the loss of property values for those of us
who live nearby," he said. "The skyline of such a plant, the lights
all night, that could reduce the value of my home by up to 50

Houldin emphasized that the project would not go forward
without support from the town.

"This is an opportunity," he said. "And we need to know how you
feel about it before we proceed."

Houldin said Point East expects the permitting process to take
two years and construction to take another four years, putting
the target date for completion of the plant at 2013.

Rep. Peter Rines, D-Wiscasset, said following the meeting that
the state could use more diversity in its fuel sources. "Maine's
energy portfolio is too dependent on natural gas," he said. "This
certainly would be a step in the right direction."

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