Friday, December 19, 2008

Salmon Recovery Questions

Bangor Daily News:
"The surge of Atlantic salmon that returned to the Penobscot and other Maine rivers to spawn this year appears to be the result of improved fish survival in the ocean rather than any changes to the state’s stocking program, biologists said Thursday.

Exactly why salmon seem to be faring better during the life stage they spend at sea is still open to debate, however.

More than 2,100 Atlantic salmon were counted making their way upriver in the Penobscot earlier this year. That was the largest return since 1992 and more than double the previous year’s figure.

The number of adult sea-run salmon returning to Maine’s other rivers was still tiny by comparison. But in almost every river, biologists observed more salmon returning this year than the five-year average.

In the Saco River, for instance, 62 adult salmon returned in 2008, compared with 24 last year. Figures were also impressive on the Aroostook, where the 44 fish represented a welcome change from the five-year average of eight fish.

Rivers in Canada, Scotland and Ireland also saw larger returns this year, according to Joan Trial, a biologist with Maine’s Bureau of Sea-Run Fisheries and Habitat.

“This year was an exceptional year. I wish we knew why,” Trial told members of the state’s Atlantic Salmon Commission on Thursday." ... more

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Appeal to Lincoln Lakes Wind Farm Approval

Bangor Daily News:
"The Lincoln Planning Board used “ludicrous” arguments in shoehorning a proposed $130 million wind farm into its regulations, a Bar Harbor lawyer opposing the board’s approval of the proposal contended Tuesday.

Representing a group opposing the project, the Friends of Lincoln Lakes, attorney Lynne A. Williams filed an appeal with the Lincoln Appeals Board on Monday charging that First Wind’s turbines do not belong in residential zones of Rollins Mountain, where the project is slated to go if it is approved by Maine Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies." ...more

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cruise Ship Numbers

Portland Press Herald's report on the income from cruise ships.

A Million Dollar Loan for Working Farms reports on the Maine Community Foundation's $1 million loan to the Maine Farmland Trust to support working farms.

Recycled Material Market Collapses

With the slwed global economy, the value of recycled material has essentially evaporated. Many communities, including ones in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts relied on the income from the collected materials. Until the market recovers, instead of generating income from the discarded material, it will now cost money to dispose of it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

U Maine Presque Isle Wind Power

University of Maine at Presque Isle
"We are the first university in the state to move forward on the installation of a wind turbine on campus. This $2 million project, to install a 600 kW wind turbine that will produce 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, will create more than $100,000 in annual energy savings and keep an estimated 572 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year. We see our project as an incredible educational opportunity, allowing us to share our experiences with you as we work to get our wind turbine up and running."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Certifying Lobster Industry as Sustainable
"An effort to have Maine's lobster industry certified as 'sustainable' is moving forward as a London-based organization begins a formal assessment of the fishery.

The Marine Stewardship Council said Thursday that it has begun a full evaluation of the lobster population, the soundness of the lobster management system and the fishery's impact on the environment. The process is expected to take a year or more.

Members of Maine's lobster industry are seeking the certification label, which assures consumers that the seafood is not overfished or harvested in a way that harms the ocean.

Supporters say that as consumers demand more 'green' food products, the lobster industry stands to lose out if it doesn't get certified."

Blueberry Prices Down

Bangor Daily News:
"The price paid for wild blueberries this year has dropped about 40 percent, according to some growers, and blueberry experts are blaming a bumper crop and a poor economy." ... more

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shortened Scallop Season Begins

The season in state waters runs from Monday to Jan. 4, and again from Feb. 25 to March 31. That's a total of 70 days, which is a nearly 50 percent cutback from last year. Fishermen will also have a daily catch limit of 200 pounds in state waters.

Regulators say the new rules are needed to give the ailing resource a chance to recover.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shrimp Season Begins
Fishermen will be allowed to catch shrimp in nets and traps for 180 days for the 2008-2009 season, which runs through May 29. The season is 28 days longer than last year and will be the longest season since 1991.

Pat White, chairman of the panel that regulates the shrimp fishery, said scientific surveys show that the resource should be abundant both this season and next. The fishery is jointly regulated by Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. (more)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Potato Harvest Down
"PORTLAND -- Maine's 2008 potato harvest will go down in the books as one of the smallest in decades due to reductions in potato acreage and yield.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says this year's potato production is estimated at about 1.44 billion pounds, down 14 percent below the 2007 harvest.
Harvest estimates will be updated next month.

Farmers harvested an estimated 54,500 acres of potatoes, the smallest amount in decades. As recently as 25 years ago, Maine farmers were harvesting more than 100,000 acres of potatoes.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the average yield this year is estimated at about 26,500 pounds per acre, down from last year's yield of 29,500 pounds."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hinckley Staying

The Ellsworth American:
"The sour economy notwithstanding, The Hinckley Co. intends to continue building luxury powerboats at its facility in Trenton.

At the end of September, the company laid off approximately 50 employees, about one-fifth of the workers at the Trenton boatbuilding plant.

The layoffs affected about 9 percent of the company’s total work force, according to Hinckley Sales and Marketing Vice President Edward A. Rogers. A few more employees have been let go in recent weeks, bringing the total number of layoffs to about 9.5 percent of the total work force, Rogers said." ... more

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Salmon Farming Returning

The Boston Globe reports on the second coming of salmon farming in Maine.
Maine's 2008 salmon harvest is likely to total more than 20 million pounds, the highest since production peaked at 36 million pounds in 2000 and 29 million a year later, said Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association.

Cooke has adopted a number of changes, including writing into state law a requirement that saltwater pens lie fallow for a period of time after fish are harvested. The salmon industry says this prevents the growth of pathogens that can be deadly to fish.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fort Kent Windpower Info Site

This site provides a lot of information on the "Industrial Wind Power Project Proposed for the Town of Fort Kent, Maine."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grants for working waterfronts
"The Land for Maine's Future Board has approved grants to protect two working waterfront facilities in the midcoast.

A total of $526,250 will pay for covenants that prevent the re-development of working waterfronts at the Bremen Lobster Realty Co-op in Bremen and the Ship to Shore Lobster Co. in Owls Head. The covenants restrict any future development of the properties that conflicts with fisheries uses.

The state board uses funds approved by voters to conserve open space and to protect waterfront properties and fishing facilities that are important to the state's economy and to the welfare of the towns. A total of 54 commercial boats and more than 100 fishing families rely on access to the waterfront properties in Bremen and Owls Head, the board said."

U. Maine to install wind turbine
"PRESQUE ISLE -- The University of Maine at Presque Isle has reached an agreement for construction of a wind turbine on campus.

President Don Zillman says the $2 million project underscores the willingness of UMPI to take a leadership role in making campus wind power a reality.

General contractor Lumus Construction will install the 600-killowatt wind turbine, which is expected to be producing clean energy by late spring.

The project will make UMPI the first university in Maine and one of only a handful in New England with a mid-size wind turbine."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fish hatchery may close
"Proposed state budget cuts could claim a historic fish hatchery that has produced salmon for Grand Lake Stream and other top Maine fishing destinations.

The Grand Lake Stream Fish Hatchery, which dates back to the 1870s, has been included on a list of proposed cuts aimed at eliminating an estimated shortfall of $500 million in the upcoming two-year budget that lawmakers will face in January.

Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Roland 'Danny' Martin says something has to give. Other proposals include eliminating 10 game warden positions and three biologist positions.

Every department throughout the state bureaucracy has prepared similar plans to reduce spending by 10 percent for the two-year budget that begins on July 1."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lobster update
"YORK -- Gov. John Baldacci says the tanking price of lobster underscores how the market is interconnected with the global economy in ways that weren't understood previously.

A combination of consumers' declining appetite along with tight credit that killed demand from Canadian processors caused a drastic reduction in value of Maine's signature seafood.

Baldacci says new figures from the Department of Marine Resources illustrate the severity of the problem: Maine lobstermen received less than $20 million for their catch in October, compared to more than $60 million in the same month in 2005, which was a record year for value."

Monday, November 10, 2008

'Backyard Wind Power' :
"In Maine it can be hard to find spots with enough wind. The coast is good. Hilltops are good. Valleys and wooded areas aren't so good.

Still, Mainers are finding places for them.

According to a report from the Governor's Task Force on Wind Power Development, more than 50 small and residential-scale wind turbines were installed in 2007, including one at the Kennebunkport home of former President George H. W. Bush. The group expects 150 to be installed this year, a three-fold increase." ... more

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sail Inn taking settlement
"The Maine Department of Transportation and the Dyer family have settled a lawsuit involving the former Sail Inn restaurant in Prospect.

Lawyers for the state and Paul and Robert Dyer announced Thursday that the Dyers will receive $725,000.

The dispute began in 2003 when the state took the former restaurant by eminent domain. The property consisted of the restaurant and four acres of riverfront land. The taking was necessary to allow construction of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.

Both sides disagreed on the value of the land, which is why the Dyers filed a lawsuit. At one point, the Dyers said they should have received $2 million.

After years of legal wrangling, a judge in September ordered the sides into mediation, which led to the settlement."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vinalhaven student's sustainability research

Working Waterfront:
"For the past three years, students at the Vinalhaven School have been studying the question of whether the year-round community on Vinalhaven will be able to sustain its existing way of life in the future; and as a subset of that, how the fishing industry and working waterfront access on Vinalhaven have changed over time.

They are using technologies they have learned through CREST-an Island Institute project funded by the National Science Foundation that uses placed-based education to provide opportunities for hands-on technology education -to examine this question."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Latest housing numbers
"The median sales price of a single-family home in Maine fell more than 6 percent in September compared to a year ago, to $177,750, according to data released today by the Maine Real Estate Information System.

Statewide sales were off nearly 10 percent during the month, compared to 2007, with 928 homes sold."

Lobster Industry Task Force

"Gov. John Baldacci on Friday created a task force to study the ailing lobster industry, which has seen prices fishermen receive at the dock for their catch drop drastically over the past month.

The Task Force on the Economic Sustainability of Maine's Lobster Industry will make a comprehensive study of the industry and recommend specific strategies to help maintain the viability of the lobster industry in Maine, according to a press release from the governor's office. The group will attempt to identify opportunities to expand and diversify both live and processed markets for Maine lobster, to increase product quality and profitability, expand marketing initiatives and alternative business models.

The task force will deliver its recommendations no later than April 15, 2009, the release said."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lincoln Group Opposes Wind Power

"A group of residents in Lincoln opposed to a proposed $120 million wind farm are pushing for a moratorium to block the project.

Friends of Lincoln Lakes plans to ask the town council and planning board next week for a moratorium on all pending wind projects, saying that the town hasn’t had enough time to study the wind farm’s potential impact on wildlife, according to the Bangor Daily News. Developer Evergreen Wind Power, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based First Wind, is proposing a 40-turbine wind farm that stretches along a ridge through Burlington, Lincoln, Lee and Winn, and plans to apply for building permits with Lincoln’s planning board by the end of the year." (more)

“Maine Street Station”

Charting Maine’s Future:
"Maine Street Station will fill an empty lot in the middle of downtown Brunswick with over 40,000 square feet of new retail and office space adjacent to Brunswick’s planned passenger rail stop and Bowdoin College. A future phase of the project proposes to add a 75-room inn, another 18,000 square foot commercial building, and 16 units of housing.

The Downeaster passenger rail service is now moving forward with
expansion plans that will bring two trains a day from Portland north to Brunswick by
summer 2010. The first phase of construction at Maine Street Station is
expected to be complete sometime next year."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lobster Prices Fall Futher

Portland Press Herald:
"The wholesale price of Maine lobster, considered low all summer, has plunged more than 20 percent in the past week to as little as $2.60 per pound in some harbors. Dealers say falling financial markets have ruined consumers' appetite for luxury items such as lobster, and the international credit crisis has effectively shut off orders from major processors in Canada.

Those and other factors undercut demand just as Maine entered its peak lobster season – and as fishermen are paying near-record prices for fuel and bait."

Monday, October 6, 2008

blueberry capital

"Every August, Wyman harvests its roughly 10,000 acres of blueberry fields along the coast of Down East Maine and in the Canadian Maritimes. It’s a big job, requiring 130 year-round employees and some 500 seasonal workers, the majority of whom are migrants. From early August through Labor Day, Wyman’s two processing factories in DeBlois and Cherryfield sift, sort, rinse, and box up to 1.5 million pounds of blueberries a day to satisfy customers like General Mills, Sysco, Sara Lee and Wal-Mart."
- Mainebiz

Free Electricity

"Former Gov. Angus King is one of the principals of Independence Wind LLC, which needs a zoning change to put wind turbines on the town's hills.

In a letter, King says Independence Wind is prepared to offer every household free electricity equal to the amount consumed by a typical Maine household. That represents 500 kilowatt hours per month for each of 200 households that were CMP customers as of Sept. 1."

Windmill Moratorium Saught

Bangor Daily News:
"The group has gathered roughly 220 signatures on a petition seeking a 180-day moratorium on construction of commercial wind power facilities as well as processing of any applications. The petition would allow the Town Council to extend the moratorium or cancel it once Fort Kent’s zoning and land-use ordinances have been amended to address wind power facilities.

The petition is a response to a Texas-based company, Horizon Wind, which has been negotiating lease agreements with landowners in the Fort Kent area and in other parts of Aroostook County."

Monday, September 22, 2008

North Haven and Vinalhaven Wind Project

"On July 28, members of the Fox Islands Electric Cooperative approved the wind power project by a vote of 383 to 5. 'It was a huge vote of confidence by the co-op in the wind power project,' said Dr. George Baker.

'We were extremely pleased,' said Chip Farrington, the co-op's interim general manager. 'It makes the project that much more exciting when you have that much support.'

As soon as the vote was held, Dr. George Baker was on the phone trying to track down turbines. 'Because turbines are in such short supply, anyone who has one only wants to sell them to people who are bona fide,' Baker said. 'All of a sudden, we're bonna fide.'

Baker had been on sabbatical from his post as a professor of the Harvard Business School, advising the co-op.

The next step is for the co-op board of directors to vote on creating a limited liability company (LLC), which would run the wind power project. This form of business organization is needed in order to finance the project, Baker said. As an LLC, the wind power project could enlist passive tax investors and would be eligible for federal tax credits that the co-op could not use, he said."
- Working Waterfront

Saturday, September 20, 2008

East Boothbay Boatyard Operating Again

"Penni Barbeau removes her welding helmet and tugs off heavy canvas gloves as she steps out from under a fire-scorched hull at the Washburn & Doughty boatyard. After weeks of doing cleanup, painting and odd jobs in the wake of a devastating July 11 fire, Barbeau is glad to be back to her welding duties.

'As fast as it's been, it's been a surprise,' Barbeau said of the recovery efforts at East Boothbay's largest employer. 'It's been a lot of hard work by people here.'

Two months after the fire, Washburn & Doughty has an almost-full complement of about 90 employees working on tugboats, even as subcontractors continue to clear debris and rebuild facilities so workers can be indoors this winter."
- Portland Press Herald

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Acadia visitor count up in 2007

"ACADIA NATIONAL PARK -- Acadia National Park had 2.2 million visitors last year $ an increase from 2006 but still below the highs set in the mid-1990s.

According park officials, last year's visitor count was up from just under 2.1 million in 2006 and was the highest total since 2004.

But it was still well below the 2.8 million people who visited the park in 1995.

Acadia National park is located on Mount Desert Island in eastern Maine, with parkland also located on Schoodic Peninsula and Isle au Haut."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Greater Fishing Limits

"Maine's commercial fishermen expect yet another round of painful limits on their catches in the wake of a new scientific status report on New England's fish populations.

A federal report presented to fisheries managers last week said that although some fish species such as haddock and cod are healthy or rebounding, others – including most varieties of flounder – are still declining and severely depleted.

It was the first comprehensive look at 19 so-called groundfish species in four years.

State officials and members of Maine's struggling fishing industry said Monday there is no doubt that a new round of federal fishing cuts is coming for next spring.

'This is just plain bad news,' said Terry Stockwell, deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

'The difficulty for the industry is that they've done what's been asked of them. They fished fewer days at sea, used bigger mesh, stayed out of certain areas, and all of these measures haven't resulted in a healthy fishery. It's extremely frustrating.':

New England's groundfish fishery is the oldest in the nation and was once the bedrock of Maine's coastal economy.

It now supports a compact fleet of boats and a collection of Portland-based businesses – including the city-owned Fish Exchange – that service the fleet. .... more
- Portland Press Herald

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kirby Wind Power work started

"Work has begun on the $320 Kibby Wind Power project on Kibby Mountain in northern Franklin County.

Plum Creek, which owns the land, has started clearing for the 17 miles of roads, and developer TransCanada MaineWind Development Inc. has hired Woolwich construction firm Reed & Reed to lay the roads, build the foundations for the 44 turbines and install them, and construct the electrical collector system, according to the Sun Journal in Lewiston.

The first set of 22 turbines are planned to be operational in December 2009, and the second half in 2010. LURC approved the wind farm in July."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Millinocket mill closure

Portland Press Herald:
"Maine's elected leaders say the Katahdin Paper mill in Millinocket will be closing its doors on or about Sept. 2. The mill previously announced a July 28 shutdown, but later said that date would be pushed back.

Maine's two U.S. senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, said Tuesday they're working to see that assistance programs are in place for mill workers. Gov. John Baldacci said he's also working with mill owners to address energy costs.

Baldacci said mill owners are committed to re-starting the mill as soon as a new biomass gasification system is installed. He said the mill could then hire its employees back."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Clam Flat Closures Hurting Diggers

Lincoln County News:
"The July 25 movement of a pollution line, closing much of Broad Cove in Bremen to the harvesting of shellfish, has caused a big stink and is a pattern that has rippled from one working waterfront in Maine to the next.

'Something's not going right at the DMR,' said Bremen town selectman Bob Miller, speaking of the schedule by which clam flats are tested and the governing body which regulates the Dept. of Marine Resources, the Food and Drug Administration.

Much of the debate is between what DMR scientists need in order to establish accurate testing results, and the current test results, showing an improvement in water quality and the need to continue harvesting a crop so many in this community rely upon for their livelihood.

According to Amy Fitzpatrick, Director of the Public Health Division at the DMR, the mud flats bordering Broad Cove in Bremen were not meeting the department's clean water criteria in 2006. The DMR tests for fecal matter in water samples taken from the many mud flats up and down the coast of Maine." more...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lobster Fishing Update

Mount Desert Islander:
TREMONT — Dock prices for lobster are low and the rising costs of fuel and bait are squeezing fishermen’s bottom lines. As the profits dwindle, area lobstermen deal with the situation in their own ways. There are several common threads in their opinions of how the scenario plays out.

“The fuel is just killer,” said Wayne Rich of Tremont. “It is almost double what it was last year. Normally, I would run my engine at 2000 to 2100 to cruise; now I am running 1600-1800 rpm.” The slower the engine speed, the better the fuel efficiency.

“I am also not fishing as far out as I normally do. I think guys aren’t running offshore because of fuel,” Mr. Rich said. “If they can catch as much inside as they can outside, they do that for awhile and then they will move them outside in September or October.”

Bar Harbor fisherman Shane Carter is also easing back on the throttle. “I am running the boat a lot easier,” Mr. Carter said. - more

Downeaster Ridership Up

"WASHINGTON D.C. -- Amtrak released figures yesterday that show an increase in ridership through July, including a boost in riders on the Downeaster train, which runs from Portland to Boston.

Overall, Amtrak reports that ridership was up 14 percent in July -- 2,750,278 riders, which marks the most passengers carried in any single month in Amtrak's 37-year history.

The Downeaster carried 48,438 of those passengers in July, which shows a 33.6 percent increase over the previous July.

'Increasing fuel prices, highway congestion, airline issues and environmental awareness continue to make intercity passenger rail extremely relevant and popular,' Alex Kummant, president and CEO of Amtrak, said in a prepared statement. 'Our record-setting ridership and ticket revenue in the month of July alone indicate we will end the year with approximately three million new passenger trip in FY09.'"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Residential windmills send power back to the grid for electricity credits"

"As energy costs skyrocket, the image of one’s electrical meter spinning backward is somewhat tempting. With wind turbine power, that image can become reality.

John Rush and Kate Burgess own Evolo Energy Solutions and Evolo Home Center in Newport. Evolo Energy Solutions offers renewable energy systems including solar thermal systems that provide domestic hot water and radiant-floor space heating, solar PV systems that provide electricity, and wind turbines for homes and small businesses
“We have varying sizes of wind turbines available,” Rush said. “Our largest is 10 kilowatts, and that is large enough to run a small farm or business.”

Rush explained that the newer types of wind turbine systems work in conjunction with the utility grid. On days when the wind is blowing, the electrical meter literally spins backwards, banking electrical credits for those days when the wind does not blow. The best candidates for wind turbine power are “interested in producing their own renewable, domestic energy, and have a good wind resource — areas on hills near bodies of water, for example,” Rush said. “There are a number of places all over the state that have good wind resources, but certainly not everyone does.”

Norway Looking to Wind Power
"NORWAY - Wes Wentworth has a vision of windmills on top of Pike's Hill overlooking picturesque Lake Pennesseewassee. The 150-acre Roberts Farm Preserve was once a model dairy farm owned by former Maine Commissioner of Agriculture John A. Roberts.

Wentworth of Norway said he hopes his proposal for the town to undertake the project will generate enthusiasm as it did when Saco officials paid $200,000 to put a 100-foot tall turbine just across the Saco River from the historic downtown shopping district in February.

'The monies generated (from energy produced) will save taxpayers. Saco did it,' said Wentworth of the turbine Saco erected in hopes of producing at least 90,000 kilowatts of electricity each year and saving about $12,600 in city energy costs."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Irving Mill Closing

NASHVILLE PLANTATION, Maine -- Irving Forest Product's Pinkham Saw Mill in Aroostook County is being permanently closed, resulting in the loss of 64 jobs.

Irving spokeswoman Mary Keith said workers were briefed Tuesday on plans to close the mill on Aug. 25. The company cited the ongoing slump in home construction as well as a 97 percent increase in fuel costs and a 40 percent increase in transportation costs since 2000.

The company said a fire that destroyed part of the mill on Monday accelerated the timetable. Irving hopes some workers will take jobs at the company's other operations in Maine. more ....
MTW Portland

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gulf of Maine Wind Farm Plan

"BANGOR — A Boston-based developer of wind turbines that can operate in deep waters has been meeting with state leaders about plans for a large wind power project at an undetermined site in the Gulf of Maine.

'What we're trying to do is focus in and find an appropriate location in the state of Maine that will have minimal impact on the fisheries and the environment,' said Raymond Dackerman, general manager of Blue H USA.

The company said it's aiming for a site far enough at sea that any large turbines would not be visible from land.

Maine has emerged as one of the premier areas on the East Coast for wind energy, but all projects approved or proposed thus far are based on land.

Experts estimate that more than 100,000 megawatts of potential wind energy could be tapped in the Gulf of Maine, which has strong and steady winds year round.

Blue H USA claims to have developed and patented a turbine that is shorter and lighter than most land-based industrial turbines yet produces more power."
- Portland Press Herald

Friday, August 8, 2008

Trust May Sell Land to Developer

"A controversial proposal to sell seven acres of conservation land on Crystal Spring Farm to a developer will go before members of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust this fall.

The land trust wants to sell the property between Baribeau Drive and Pleasant Hill Road and use the money to help conserve farmland in western Brunswick.

It intends to put the issue to a vote of members as early as October, said executive director Angela Twitchell.

The organization's board has debated the issue since it received a proposal last spring from an unidentified developer who wants to build a long-term care facility on the site.

The parcel is in the city's Medical Use Zone, and has less conservation value than the remaining 155 acres of the north parcel of Crystal Spring Farm, said land trust president Tom Settlemire.

'This is a piece of land that is not a high priority in terms of land conservation. It came as part of the package, and we identified right from the start that we could use proceeds from the sale of this land to conserve other pieces,' Settlemire said.

The land trust raised $2.2 million to buy the Crystal Spring Farm-North parcel. Some members who contributed to the campaign have called the proposed sale a betrayal, and say it violates the spirit of the fundraising campaign." - more
- Portland Press Herald

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vinalhaven and North Haven Approve Wind Projects

"VINALHAVEN — The cooperative that supplies electricity to Vinalhaven and North Haven is moving ahead with what it says will be the largest coastal wind turbine project in the Northeast.

Members of the Fox Islands Electric Cooperative voted 382 to 5 this week in favor of the plan to erect two or three turbines that will provide electricity directly to residents of the two Penobscot Bay islands without going through the power grid.

The co-op said the turbines are expected to generate 3.5 to 5 megawatts more power than a wind project in Hull, Mass., a coastal town of more than 11,000 year-round residents that gets about 12 percent of its power from two land-based turbines.

Vinalhaven and North Haven have a combined year-round population of 1,500 that balloons to 4,500 during the summer. The turbines are expected to generate enough power for all winter residents, enabling the co-op to sell excess electricity into the grid; in summer, the co-op will have to import power to meet all of its customers' needs.

The overall cost of the project is expected to run between $10 million and $13 million, according to Bill McGuinness, policy specialist with the Island Institute, which has been working on the plans"
- Portland Press Herald

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lobster price down

"A solid harvest and diminished demand from diners adjusting to the weak economy have pushed the retail price of lobster in Maine beneath $6 a pound, tightening the financial squeeze on fisherman struggling with soaring fuel prices.

While fewer locals and tourists overall are shelling out for lobster dinners, some say the affordability -- at a time when most food prices are rising -- has encouraged them to eat more of the seafood delicacy than usual."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Geothermal regulations

"There are an estimated 500 geothermal energy systems in Maine homes and businesses, but only about a half dozen are registered as required under federal and state law. And some engineers and experts warn that a lack of proper regulation is a disaster waiting to happen.

So the state is trying to assess the risk posed by the systems and impose some oversight without discouraging investment in the technology, one of several alternatives to fossil fuels as the cost of heating oil soars.

'We need to promote this technology. It just needs to be done right,' said Erich Kluck, an environmental specialist who runs the state's Underground Injection Control Program. 'If we don't have clean drinking water, the price of oil isn't going to matter.'"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

'Great Eastern Mussel Farm shuts down'
"The Great Eastern Mussel Farms Inc. of Tenants Harbor announced this morning it is immediately shutting down the company and laying off its 40 full-time employees.

The company cited increased regulatory challenges, competition from Canadian mussel growers and rising energy costs for the demise of the 30-year-old company. Founded in 1978 by Endicott 'Chip' Davison, the company was a pioneer in developing the modern mussel industry in North America."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Unemployment Up

"The Maine Labor Department says the state's unemployment rate rose by seventh-tenths of a percentage point in May to 5.4 percent, Maine's highest rate in more than a decade.

Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman says last month's monthly increase was unusually large. The comparable seasonally adjusted national jobless rate for May was one-tenth of a percentage point higher, 5.5 percent.

Labor officials say the increase is due in part to the sagging national economy. But part of the rise is due to a statistical fluke, because jobless rates were measured a week after many college students finished their work study for the year but had not yet gotten summer jobs."

Slight Income Growth

"Mainers' personal incomes grew 0.8 percent, slightly below the national average, during the first three months of the year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday.

The first-quarter growth rate in Maine matched the rate of growth in the last three months of 2007. It was also slightly below the national increase in personal incomes of 1.1 percent.

'It's entirely consistent with the economic pattern that we've seen,' said Charles Colgan, an economist and professor at the University of Southern Maine.

Colgan said that, in general, personal incomes follow the economy, unless there's something unusual about the labor market. Maine's unemployment rate has risen in recent months, so there's no upward pressure on wages, he said.

Colgan is expecting very modest growth in the economy in the second half of the year.

Health care and social assistance continued to be the industry sector contributing the most to personal income growth, accounting for 0.16 percentage points of the 0.8 percent increase.

The biggest drag was from the construction industry, where personal income declines took 0.07 percentage points off the total growth."
- Portland Press Herald

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eliot passes solar and wind ordinances

Voters in Eliot approved two new ordinances permitting wind and solar energy systems in town.

The solar ordinance passed 852 to 158 and the wind ordinance passed 831 to 183.

The two ordinances will permit small wind and solar energy systems, and will allow the town to regulate them to make sure they’re installed and operated safely. The town’s energy commission, which put forth the ordinances, believes they will send a statement that alternative power systems are welcome in town.

The ordinances spell out regulations such as setbacks and height limitations.

Eliot is now among the first communities in the state to pass an ordinance that specifically addresses these kinds of systems, according to Michael Starn, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association.

- mainetoday

Passamaquoddy gets more money for tidal power effort

The Passamaquoddy Tribe of Pleasant Point has received a $120,000 grant by the Department of the Interior's Division of Energy and Mineral Development to continue pursuing tidal power in the region.

Two years ago, the tribe received a $55,000 federal grant to study the feasibility of harnessing tidal currents for energy. Stephen Crawford, the tribe's environmental director, told the Bangor Daily News the grant will fund the testing of an underwater turbine in several locations to work toward developing a tidal-power site in the waters off the reservation.

According to Crawford, if all goes well the tidal turbines could supply power to every Washington County town in a little over a decade.

- Mainebiz

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Plastic recycling

Here is some data from ecomaine on plastic recycling (via The Vigorous North):
The non-colored (natural) HDPE milk jugs (marked with a number 2 on the bottom) are now commanding over $800 per ton ($18,000 per trailer load). We sell a lot of this material to a Company in York PA called Graham Packaging which makes new plastic containers for detergents and cleaners (non-food).

The Colored HDPE #2 containers are sold to various markets (including Graham Packaging) at $600 per ton. Again, they make new bottles out of scrap bottles.

The PET #1 containers are sorted automatically by our scanner and sold at $400 per ton to various markets that make carpet or stuffing for sleeping bags and jackets, etc.

The 3-7 plastic we mix and sell together because we don't get enough of any one of them to substantiate accumulating them in separate loads. These markets are in their infancy (just like the #1 & #2 markets were 18 years ago). However they're the smallest percentage of what we process... See below.

Make up of the Plastics we process:

Colored HDPE #2: 28%
Natural HDPE #2: 25%
PET #1: 25%
Plastics #3-#7: 22%

Paper mill closing will leave 208 jobless

"MILLINOCKET - Katahdin Paper Co. LLC says it's closing its Millinocket paper mill, putting about 208 people out of work.

Fraser Paper, which operates Katahdin's mills, cited high energy prices Thursday for the indefinite closure of the Millinocket mill effective on July 29.

Fraser CEO Peter Gordon says fuel costs have doubled over the past 12 months. Last year, the Millinocket mill consumed more than 400,000 barrels of oil.

Paper produced at the Millinocket mill is used in the magazine, catalog and retail-insert industries. Katahdin's East Millinocket mill, which produces paper used in telephone directories, is not affected."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lobster boat sales slow

"JONESPORT — For the first time in 24 years of building lobster boats, Wayne Beal doesn't have any job orders.

He has a 42-footer under construction at his boatyard -- but he's building it for himself, so he can give up boat building and go lobster fishing instead.

In Maine, where lobster is king, Beal and other lobster boat builders are braving tough times. With the lobster catch down and fishermen feeling an economic squeeze, boat sales have hit the skids.

So even with the uncertainties facing lobster fishermen, Beal believes he's better off doing that than sitting around and hoping for more boat orders to come in."
- Portland Press Herald

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Environmental news site redesigned
"The Internet-based Maine Environmental News Service has been redesigned by its new operator, Planet Maine Web Design and Hosting, company officials announced.

“The site has been totally redesigned using the latest in web-based data base technology, said William Sugg of Planet Maine who said he launched the site in 2000 while he worked for the Maine Environmental Policy Institute. “The site now has over 50 volunteer contributors. The site has evolved into an essential resource for Maine professionals working in the environmental field.”

Professionals working on environmental issues can add announcements from their organizations, Sugg said.

The site offers press releases, event information, publications and alerts from Maine environmental organizations, he said, along with news articles and audio from newspapers and the Maine Public Broadcasting Network."

LURC updating plan for North Woods
"AUGUSTA — The Maine Land Use Commission is updating its 1997 Comprehensive Land Use Plan — the blueprint for future use and preservation of the North Woods — and has scheduled public workshops for citizens to register their views.

In central Maine, a workshop will be held in Augusta from 6 to 9 p.m. May 7 at Augusta Civic Center."

Ethanol Refinery
"OLD TOWN (NEWS CENTER) -- The University of Maine and Red Shield Environmental in Old Town now have the financial backing to build an ethanol refinery.

The pulp mill and research university learned on Friday that they are getting a $30 million federal grant from the Department of Energy.

Ethanol is a bio-fuel that can be made out of wood waste.

The university is developing the technology to build a refinery at the Red Shield pulp mill.

Tuesday, state leaders joined Red Shield and UMaine officials to celebrate this significant step forward.

'There aren't many places in the world, if any, that could bring the talent, the technology, the facilities, or the resources together between a visionary company and a leading research university the way that this project does,' said UMaine President Robert Kennedy.

Red Shield is expecting it will take about two years to get the bio-refinery built and on-line.
It expects that the ethanol it produces will be marketed and sold as a gasoline additive.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Offshore wind turbines proposed

King pushes for offshore wind turbines | Portland Press Herald:
"King said Tuesday that the state should launch a massive research and development effort to create a $15 billion network of offshore wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine over the next 10 years. Only something as ambitious as 1,000 turbines spinning 26 miles off the Maine coast will be able to break the state's reliance on oil and prevent an economic catastrophe, he said.

'The Gulf of Maine is the Saudi Arabia of wind,' King said. 'There is nothing I've come across that has the large potential this has We need to be thinking big about this.'

King called for the wind power equivalent of the 'Manhattan Project' during a lecture at Bowdoin College Tuesday evening, referring to the effort that produced the atomic bomb. He said such a 'wind ranch' could provide all of Maine's electricity, as well as heat for its homes and power for its cars."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Downeaster a good investment

Another report indicates that keeping the Downeaster is worth the money.
"The Amtrak Downeaster passenger train will generate billions of dollars in economic benefits in Maine and New Hampshire over the coming decades, according to a new study.

The study, 'Amtrak Downeaster: Overview of Projected Economic Impacts,' was commissioned by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority to identify long-term economic benefits in Maine and New Hampshire associated with development along the train's Portland-to-Boston corridor. It also examined potential economic impacts of expanded service to Brunswick and Rockland."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Wind Power?

Mainebiz reports on a Texas Company looking to build a wind farm.

Houston-based Horizon Energy is examining a wind farm site near Bridgewater, but won't disclose any other potential sites in eastern Aroostook County, according to the Bangor Daily News. The company's long-term plans envision 400 turbines in the county, the paper said.

The company, doing business locally as Aroostook Wind Energy, has been considering northern Maine for wind power development for the past two years, but it recently began approaching land owners about acquiring or leasing land for the turbines and transmission lines, the paper said.

Horizon has not submitted any plans to regulators in Maine, but a project manager for the company told the Daily News it hopes to begin construction on the first wind farm by 2010."

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oakhurst goes solar

"Oakhurst Dairy will install solar hot water panels on the roof of its Forest Avenue facility to cut down on energy use and reduce carbon emissions.

The panels represent a step toward the Portland company's goal of reducing carbon emissions 20 percent by 2010. By using the panels to pre-heat water used in the dairy plant, the company said it expects to save 5,000 gallons of heating oil a year. Recovering waste heat from the system will save an estimated 2,500 additional gallons of oil.

Work on the project will begin April 14, Oakhurst said. The project is expected to be done by the end of May.

The company said that, when complete, the panel project will be one of the largest commercial solar energy systems in Maine, with 2,700 square feet of solar panels.

Oakhurst has also converted its fleet of trucks to use biodiesel fuel and improved effiency in refrigeration to cut down on energy use and reduce emissions."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Save energy; Create Jobs

"Maine businesses could save more than $450 million a year in energy costs by adopting cost-effective efficiency measures, according to a report released Thursday by university researchers.

These measures could help create between 1,500 and 2,500 jobs by 2020, the report said, and boost the state's gross domestic product between $170 million and $260 million, depending on energy prices."
- Portland Press Herald

Is lobster green?

"Efforts are under way to have the state's signature seafood certified as sustainable by an international organization that evaluates fishing practices worldwide. With consumers demanding more 'green' food products, the lobster industry stands to lose out if it doesn't get certified, supporters say."
- Portland Press Herald

1,000 turbines by 2020?

"The group's draft report calls for streamlined regulatory review of wind power projects in most regions of the state so that 1,000 or more turbines could be set up by 2020. It also identifies important scenic areas -- places such as Baxter State Park, Acadia National Park and the Appalachian Trail -- that would be protected from the visual impacts of wind farms."
- Portland Press Herald

Real Atlantic Salmon Rebounding?

"For the first time in almost a decade, fishermen will be allowed to cast for Atlantic salmon on the Penobscot River in the spring.

The Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission voted unanimously Thursday to open the river to fly fishing for a limited season this May, despite protests from the federal government and even some anglers."
- Portland Press Herald

Wilbur Yachts Going Strong

"With contracts through June 2009, the yard is plenty busy, a fact which earned recognition recently from the Department of Economic and Community Development. Wilbur Yachts this year is one of two Down East companies that received Pine Tree Development Zone certification. The program is a performance-based tax incentive initiative designed to stimulate growth in targeted business sectors in order to strengthen the economy and create jobs for Maine people."

Biddeford mill keeping busy

"WestPoint Home, which changed its name from West Point Stevens after emerging from bankruptcy in 2005, has more than once reached the verge of obsolescence and found new ways to remain profitable. Forty years ago, as the last of the cotton-weaving mills were leaving Biddeford, WestPoint textile engineers were told to come up with a viable new product or close the factory, according to Bill Plante, the plant's manufacturing and service manager.

In response, inventor Francis Spencer led a group of fellow employees through a process that developed the Vellux blanket. Vellux is a lightweight fabric that consists of a thin layer of foam sandwiched between fluffy coatings of chopped nylon fibers, or flock. The blanket is produced through an adhesive process and requires no weaving."
- Portland Press Herald

Future of Portland Fishing in Doubt

"Groundfishing trawlers, which have vanished from their historic home ports of Rockland, Eastport and Boothbay, now appear to be abandoning Portland, Maine's last remaining groundfishing hub.

Portland's fleet of medium and large draggers left the harbor for Massachusetts before Christmas, and most boats have yet to return. On a recent day, at least 13 Portland-based or formerly Portland-based draggers were in Gloucester Harbor. In Portland, there were two.

The migration has cut the supply of local fish for Portland processors and is costing area businesses that serve the fleet millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Cash-strapped boats are landing fish in Gloucester primarily because they can earn extra money selling lobsters they catch in their nets, a practice allowed in every coastal state but Maine. At least five draggers have left Portland permanently for Gloucester and Boston."
- Portland Press Herald