We, the undersigned, do hereby petition pursuant to Sub-section 5 of Section 2528 of Title 30-A of the Maine Revised Statutes that the amendment to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance for the Town of St. George set forth below be submitted for voting via Secret Ballot as a referendum question.
At end of Table 1 in Section 14, Table of Land Uses, add:
35. Shoreland Zone Utility Installation (as defined) [and mark “PB” in each column]
Add the following to Section 15 of the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance for the Town of St. George, Maine:
X. Shoreland Zone Utility Installations-Permit Required
Prior to engaging in any construction within the scope of the definition of Shoreland Zone Utility Installation as set forth in this Ordinance, the applicant shall acquire a Shoreland Zone Utility Permit from the Planning Board. The Planning Board may, at a minimum, require that the permit applicant show compliance with any and all provisions of the Ordinance as they relate to Shoreland Zone Utility Permits specifically and/or Land Use Permitting in general. Failure of a permit applicant to comply with any of these provisions, or any other valid requirement of the Planning Board, shall result in denial of the permit. The Planning Board shall deny a permit application if it determines, based upon review of the application, that the proposed Shoreland Zone Utility Installation would result in substantive harm to the purposes of this Ordinance as stated in Section 1, or a substantive change to the Land Use Standards set forth in Section 15(A).
Specifically, a Shoreland Zone Utility Permit applicant shall comply with:
Permit Application requirements as set forth in Section 16(C) of this Ordinance;
Installation Standards. Land based associated activities shall each be governed by the application standards in this ordinance and reviewable and governed by those standards, including but not limited to, Essential Services.
Decommissioning Standards for Shoreland Zone Utility Installations.
a. The applicant or current owner/operator at time of decommission of any offshore utility or telecommunications installation associated with a Shoreland Zone Utility Installation in the Town of St. George, shall, at its expense, complete decommissioning of the Shoreland Zone Utility Installation within: 1) twelve (12) months after the end of the useful life of the power generation facility to which the infrastructure is connected, or; 2) as specified in the materials provided at the
time of application. The Shoreland Zone Utility Installation will be presumed to be at the end of its useful life if no electricity or telecommunications are generated or transmitted over the permitted infrastructure for a continuous period of twelve (12) months.
Decommissioning shall include removal of all buildings, cabling, electrical components, roads, and any other associated facilities located within the Shoreland Zone which were installed or modified in conjunction with any Permit issued under this Ordinance. Restore to pre-construction condition or as approved by the Planning Board. All such components or facilities shall be removed unless, at the end of the useful life, as determined in accordance with Section 15(X)(3)(a), the applicant provides written evidence of plans for continued beneficial use of these components, and this evidence is approved by the Planning Board.
Except as otherwise provided by Section 15(X)(3)(b), disturbed earth shall be graded and re-seeded, with applicable permits for said activity to be acquired from the Planning Board.
The Applicant or subsequent owner/operator shall post and maintain decommissioning funds in an amount equal to 100% of the Estimated Decommissioning Costs as described in Section 3(b) above. The decommissioning funds shall be posted and maintained with a bonding company or Federal or State-chartered lending institution chosen by the Applicant, provided that the bonding company or lending institution is authorized to conduct such business within the State and is approved by the Town of St. George. No work can begin within the Shoreland Zone before the decommissioning bond is issued and approved and deposit of fund proven to the Planning Board.
Decommissioning funds may be in the form of a performance bond, surety bond, or other form of financial assurance as may be acceptable to the Town of St. George.
If the Applicant or current Owner/Operator does not complete decommissioning within the periods prescribed by this Section they shall be deemed to be in violation of this Ordinance and the Town of St. George may take such measures as necessary, including court action, to ensure the completion of decommissioning at the expense of the applicant. The Town may additionally seek recovery of legal and other expenses associated with enforcement of this Ordinance.
The escrow agent shall release the decommissioning funds when the applicant or current owner/operator has demonstrated and the Planning Board concurs that the decommissioning has been satisfactorily completed, or upon written approval of the Town in order to implement the decommissioning plan.
Add the following to Section 16(c), Permit Application:
6. For all Shoreland Zone Utility Permit Applications, the following submission standards are also required.
All information in the application, unless specified, will become part of the public record. Information submitted by the Applicant must be continuously updated throughout the application process as changes are made or new information becomes available.
The Applicant shall include a written application, which shall include:
Applicant’s name and contact information.
Legal owner/operator and contact information (if different from the Applicant).
Description of the legal structure of the Applicant including a corporate organizational chart.
Location map of the project showing the location of the each utility cable or transmission line, associated facilities, all property under partial or total control of the Applicant including easements and those under lease with private landowners, roads, municipal boundaries, proximity to all major geographical features in the Town of St. George.
Detailed site plan showing the location of each utility cable, transmission line and associated infrastructure and any of the following features located within the Shoreland Zone: property boundaries, required setbacks, topographic contour lines (maximum 2-foot interval), buildings (identify use), roads, driveways, right- of-ways, overhead utility lines, Scenic Features, tree cover, wetlands, streams, water bodies, areas proposed to be cleared of vegetation or re-graded, and areas proposed to be excavated or blasted.
Construction plans showing the detailed drawings of the proposed infrastructure, elevations, cross sections, plan view, capacity and installation requirements.
Copies of all private landowner agreements and easement agreements.
Copies of any deeds or purchase agreements for land owned or under option by the Applicant.
Receipt showing payment of application fees and escrow for professional and public hearing fees.
Proof of financing.
Documentation demonstrating a construction site erosion plan and stormwater runoff control plan as may be required by Section 15(J) of this Ordinance that minimizes potential adverse impacts on streams and wetlands and the Shoreland Zone.
Photographs of existing conditions of the proposed site(s) within the Shoreland Zone where surface disturbance, construction activity and installation of cables, transmission lines and associated facilities are proposed to be located.
An additional set of photographs of the existing conditions shall have the above ground portions of proposed cable or lines and associated infrastructure superimposed on it to accurately simulate the project when built.
Proof of Liability Insurance in the amount of two million dollars ($2,000,000.00) per occurrence.
A plan for construction including: time-line showing all aspects of the construction, location of all activities within the Town and a list of contact persons for all stages of construction.
A map shall be provided showing all transmission lines/cables and rights-of-way that will need to be built or upgraded to accommodate the utility cable, transmission lines, and associated infrastructure. Applicant shall submit copies of signed letters of intent to grant easements, long-term leases or other property rights from involved landowners and any governmental unit responsible for access, approval or construction of transmission and distribution lines. The Applicant shall submit an affidavit stating that no property will need to be taken by eminent domain to facilitate the proposed activity within the Shoreland Zone necessary to support the project.
A written summary of all routine operation and maintenance procedures that may take place within the Shoreland Zone prior to decommissioning of the installation.
Document all potential hazardous wastes that will be used within the Shoreland Zone and how these wastes will be transported, handled, stored, cleaned up if spilled, and disposed of during any time prior to the decommissioning of the installation.
A road and property use and risk assessment plan in compliance with Section 16(C)(5).
A decommissioning plan in compliance with Section 15(X)(3).
Copies of all written agreements and disclosure of all verbal promises, for contracts, subcontracts, employment, consulting fees, gifts or other payments in excess of $10 (cash or in-kind) to property owners (or their assigns) or businesses in St. George, either previously made or contingent on permitting of this project.
Applicant shall deliver a letter by certified mail to the owner of any property that the Applicant proposes to be impacted by the Permit. The letter will state that the Applicant has filed an application, list future development that will be restricted or impacted, and to what extent it will be restricted or impacted, by virtue of the permit being granted. Examples of restrictions include, but are not limited to, restrictions on building structures, digging or disrupting the earth or zones in which future utilities installations can expect interference from the installations proposed under this permitting process including all addendums and extensions to the permit. Applicant must provide fair compensation to any impacted or restricted landowners for restricting future development of their property.
Otherrelevantstudies,reports,certificationsandapprovalsasmaybe reasonably requested by the Planning Board to ensure compliance with this Ordinance.
Signed affidavit from the Applicant that Applicant has read the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance of the Town of St. George and agrees to abide by its provisions, as may be amended from time to time.
The applicant shall submit to the Planning Board plans showing the proposed location of the Shoreland Zone Utility Installation along with a statement describing the short and long term impacts associated with cables, line, and infrastructure construction, installation, operation and maintenance including but not limited to the disruption of earth, soils, ramps or paved areas and plans for restoration of disrupted areas.
In addressing how construction, installation and short or long term maintenance and operation of the cables, lines and infrastructure , as it lies in the Shoreland zone, will impact existing marine and Shoreland activities and marine and Shoreland resources, the statement must specifically address each of the following areas of impact:
impact on water pollution;
impact on natural beauty and open space;
impact on shore cover;
impact on fish spawning areas, aquatic life, bird and wildlife habitat;
location of new buildings or infrastructure associated with the Shoreland
Zone Utility Permit;
impact on public access to the water including parking and loading
activities, circulation of traffic and avoidance of congestion;
impact on archaeological and historic resources.
7. Proof of required permitting
The applicant shall additionally provide proof of issuance of all State and Federal Permits associated with the offshore utility/telecommunications installation which is associated with the Shoreland Zone Utility Installation. If the permit has not been issued, the applicant shall provide proof of application or consultation and an explanation as to the status of the review or consultation, or evidence of denial of the permit. Proof of permitting includes but is not limited to the following departments and agencies:
US Army Corps of Engineers-River and Harbors Act Section 10 Permit
Maine Historic Preservation and/or Tribes
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Maine DEP – NRPA Section 9 Permit by Rule
NMFS and USFWS – Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
NMFS – Marine Mammal Protection Act, Consultation
US Coast Guard – Ports and Waterways Safety Act, Consultation
Consultation (part of DEP permit process)
Maine State Historic Preservation Office – National Historic Preservation Act,
Section 106 Consultation
8. Plan and Risk Assessment for Road and Property Use within the Shoreland Zone
An application for a Shoreland Zone Utility Permit shall include a road and property use and risk assessment plan containing the following information and meeting the following requirements. All references to public and private roads or ways or private or public property in this section shall be presumed to refer to such roads or property to the extent that they lie within the Shoreland Zone.
A description and map of all public and private ways, and other property, in the Shoreland Zone of the Town of St. George to be used or affected in connection with the construction of the proposed infrastructure, including a description of how and when such ways and property will be used or affected.
A description of the type and length of vehicles and type, weight and length of loads to be conveyed on all public or private ways in the Town of St. George Shoreland Zone.
A complete assessment of the proposed use of public ways in the Town of St. George Shoreland Zone in connection with the construction of the proposed infrastructure, including: the adequacy of turning radii; the ability of the ways to sustain loads without damage; the need to remove or modify (permanently or temporarily) signs, trees, utilities, or anything else; any reasonably foreseeable damage to public or private ways or other property, public or private; any reasonably foreseeable costs that the Town may incur in connection with the use of property in the Town, including but not limited to costs relating to traffic control, public safety, or damage to public ways, or to other public or private property.
AtrafficcontrolandsafetyplanrelatingtotheuseofpublicwaysintheTown in connection with the construction of the proposed infrastructure.
Any additional relevant information that the Planning Board may request relating to the use of public or private ways or other effects on public and private property that may occur in connection with the construction and operation of the proposed infrastructure.
ThePlanningBoardwillevaluatetheriskassessmentplanwithassistance from such consultants that it deems appropriate, including without limitation a third-party engineer chosen by the Planning Board, the cost to be solely borne by the Applicant. The Planning Board may document the condition of
public ways and other property to be used in connection with the construction of the proposed infrastructure in such manner as it deems appropriate. The Planning Board may require changes to the risk assessment plan that it deems to be appropriate to protect public safety, to protect public and private property, and to address anticipated costs to the Town associated with construction.
If the Applicant requires the temporary closure of any public way, the Planning Board may require the Applicant to enter into an agreement relating to the use of the public way which may involve a construction schedule which accounts for accommodating heavy flow and tourism related traffic.
The Applicant shall be responsible for paying for any damage to any public way. If the risk assessment anticipates damage to any public way, the Planning Board may require the Applicant to provide a surety in an amount that the Planning Board determines appropriate to secure any obligation under the agreement, including but not limited to any obligation relating to alterations or modifications to public ways made in connection with the applicant’s activities.
9. The Applicant for a Shoreland Zone Utility Permit shall submit an Estimate of Decommissioning Costs to the Planning Board at the time of the permit application. Such Estimate shall describe any work required to be completed to meet the standards set forth in Section 15(X)(3) Decommissioning Standards for Shoreland Zone Utility Installation above and the estimated cost of completion of that work.
Add the following to Section 16(E), Procedure for Administering Permits
In addition to the above, all Shoreland Zone Utility Permits shall be subject to the additional submission standards below:
When reviewing a Shoreland Zone Utility Permit for completeness, the Planning Board will notify the Applicant within 90 days from the date of submission whether the application is complete. This completeness review period is specific to a Shoreland Zone Utility Permit application and supersedes the 35 day completeness review set forth in Section 16 D of this Ordinance. Specific studies may be required for a consideration of completeness including but not limited to State Agency certification and permitting, and environmental impact studies. If the application is deemed to be incomplete the Planning Board shall indicate the additional information needed. The application shall be deemed abandoned unless the Applicant provides the information requested, demonstrates that additional time is needed to complete required studies, or obtain permits, or submits in writing the reason for any delay within 30 days from the date of notice indicating the application is incomplete.
Professional Services: In reviewing a Shoreland Zone Utility Permit application for compliance with this Ordinance, the Board may retain professional services as necessary to assist with its review, including but not limited to those of an attorney, engineer, biologist, or land use planner. Within fourteen (14) days of filing an application the Applicant shall deposit in a joint escrow account with the Town the sum of $1,000.00 as partial payment for the appropriate Town
expenses in hiring consultants and experts, as the Permitting Authority shall, at its discretion, deem necessary. If at any time the balance of the fund falls below $1,000.00, the Applicant upon notice shall submit additional funds to maintain a balance of no less than $1,000.00 so that the Town’s full and actual expenses of examining and verifying the data presented by the Applicant can be paid in full by the Applicant. If at any time the balance of this fund falls below $1,000.00 for a period of 30 days after notification the application shall be considered to have been withdrawn. The balance of the escrow account shall be returned to the Owner/operator after all expenses have been paid, and after a permit is granted or the Applicant has withdrawn. Also See Town of St. George Permit Fee Schedule.
PORT is a community organization formed by citizens of the Town of St. George, Maine (“St. George”). Maine Aqua Ventus (“MAV”) has approached St. George regarding the possibility of landing the cables for its floating wind turbine pilot project (“Project”) in St. George. PORT was founded to represent the interests of the St. George coastal community with respect to the impacts of the Project on its landscape, character and quality of life, as well as on the fishing community that is vital to the regional economy. In reviewing comments already filed in response to the January 24 Order, PORT sees that many comments supporting the Project have been filed by persons located in other states, and from as far away as Australia. PORT believes that it is important that the Commission hear the views of Maine coastal communities, and particularly those (such as St. George) that may be directly affected, regarding the impacts of the Project.
The Commission’s January 24 Order requests comments on whether the Commission should reconsider orders issued in 2014 in which it approved a term sheet for a long-term power purchase agreement for the Project (“Term Sheet”) pursuant to the Ocean Energy Act (“Act”). The January 24 Order notes that there have been developments since 2014 that may warrant reconsideration of the Commission’s approval of the Term Sheet. The Commission has identified a series of specific issues upon which it seeks public comment. In this context, PORT recognizes that under the Act, the Commission lacks authority over environmental impact and siting issues associated with the Project. However, in determining whether to reconsider its approval of the Term Sheet, the Commission should be cognizant of the impacts the Project would inevitably have upon the existing industries, environment, and culture and history of Maine’s unique coastal communities, and should weigh those impacts in the balance when considering whether the Term Sheet as originally approval is truly beneficial to all affected interests, including consumers and the communities that would experience the direct adverse impacts of large floating offshore wind turbines with the associated landing infrastructure.
PORT’s comments below address specific matters under the headings stated by the Commission.
C. Renewable Energy Goals
As the Commission notes (January 24 Order at 4), one of the purposes of the Act was to harness the potential for offshore wind energy resources to meet Maine’s renewable energy goals. PORT agrees with the Commission that Maine has been very successful in developing renewable energy resources, to the point where Maine’s existing renewable resources exceed the state’s renewable energy goals. Indeed, Maine has become a leader in this area.
As a result, PORT does not believe that Maine electricity consumers, who already experience relatively high energy costs, should be called upon to subsidize an experimental project that is not necessary to meet the state’s renewable energy goals. Nor should Maine’s coastal communities be subjected to the adverse impacts that inevitably would flow from the presence of floating wind turbines and the associated infrastructure necessary to bring electricity onshore. To the extent that Maine seeks to pioneer in the development of alternative energy technologies, it should look to new and innovative technologies that will not cause harm to existing communities and industries.
D. Tangible Economic Benefits and Commitment to Manufacturing Facility
In considering whether the Project and the associated Term Sheet will present the opportunity for Maine to achieve tangible economic benefits, PORT urges the Commission to bear in mind that if the Project comes to pass, it will inevitably produce adverse impacts on the individual coastal communities near the ultimate project site. These impacts will include damage to the landscape, environment, character, and quality of life of these communities. More specifically, long-standing fishing communities that have been a vital part of the state’s economy will be devastated due to loss of fishing grounds. In addition, there will be a significant loss of tourism dollars: the landscape will be less attractive and there will be diminished birding opportunities due to the effect of the Project infrastructure on migratory birds. Any benefits calculation should be a net benefits calculation that factors in the tangible detriments resulting from the Project.
In addition, as the Commission notes (January 24 Order at 5), other states on the East Coast have established offshore wind programs and are seeking to locate manufacturing facilities in their states. See “‘Made in the U.S.A.’ Turbines Complicate U.S. Offshore Wind Plan,”
Bloomberg News (Feb. 14, 2018) (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-14/-made- in-the-u-s-a-turbines-complicate-u-s-offshore-wind-plan, last accessed Feb. 21, 2018). This makes it increasingly unlikely that Maine will become a regional center for wind energy manufacturing, one of the goals of the Act. At a minimum, the Commission should take this into consideration when determining the economic benefits that can be expected to flow from the Project. The Commission should also consider that increasing the overall cost of electricity to Maine consumers by subsidizing the Project as contemplated by the Term Sheet may very well discourage other manufacturing from locating or expanding in the state.
E. Project Specific Circumstances 2. Interconnection Location
As the Commission notes (January 24 Order at 6), at the time the Term Sheet was approved it was anticipated that the Project would be interconnected with the electric grid at the Town of Bristol. MAV subsequently abandoned that proposed interconnection site. MAV has since approached St. George about the possibility of interconnecting there, but PORT is opposing any such proposed landing, and as the Commission notes, the interconnection location is still unsettled.
PORT believes that it is vitally important that “persons with an interest in the ultimate interconnection location have an opportunity to comment on the project[.]” (Id.) As explained above, if the Project ultimately is constructed, it will inevitably produce at least some adverse impacts on the affected coastal communities. The Commission cannot and should not blind itself to these impacts, and if the Commission is to take these impacts into account in its determination of tangible economic benefits – as PORT believes it must – this can only be done if MAV has identified an interconnection/landing site. Until an interconnection site has been selected and affected persons have had the opportunity to comment, the Commission should not grant its blessing to the Term Sheet.
PORT appreciates the opportunity to provide comments and to participate in this process.