Environmental Impacts

Residents and visitors alike have long treasured the natural state of Monhegan and the diversity of its animal and plant species. As we are committed to designing a project that values the needs of and creates benefits for the Monhegan community, it is critical that we also respect the island’s unique ecosystem throughout the process.

Our feasibility work will include a thorough avian survey, a sound impact study, a visual impact study and an environmental impact assessment. These studies will help us to ensure that Monhegan’s natural environment will not be threatened by a wind power project, while meeting the requirements of the State of Maine. In this section you can read about the project's
* Avian Survey
* Sound Impact
* Visual Impact
* Air & Climate Impact

Avian Survey
As of July 2009, Dr. Podolsky’s results have indicated that the number of birds and diversity of species at the site are low relative to the rest of the island, therefore the risk of collision for all birds appears to be very low. An auditory study for bats took place in August 2009. To request a copy of Dr. Podolsky’s reports, please email Suzanne Pude at spude@islandinstitute.org.

Sound Impact
MPPD is sensitive to the potential sound impacts of its operations. In 2000, we went to great lengths to protect the nature of the surrounding area by modifying the design of our diesel power station so that it would mitigate the sound impact. The turbine that we are currently considering for the island has a similar decibel (dB) rating to the existing power station. In addition, anyone that has stood outside on a windy day on Monhegan realizes that when the wind is blowing, there is a great deal of ambient noise (waves crashing, leaves rustling) that actually measures higher on the dB scale than the turbine. On quieter days, when the wind is not blowing very hard, the turbine’s operation will be minimal or even non-existent.

Nonetheless, MPPD will be contracting with sound engineers to produce a formal sound study in the near future. This will provide us with more specific dB readings for locations around the site. It will also ensure that we are meeting State sound ordinances.

Visual Impact
We believe that the small, single turbine project that we are proposing will have minimal impact to the island’s landscape. It will not change the view from the island’s most scenic outlooks such as the backside cliffs or from the Monhegan Museum. Moreover, we hope that the proposed location of the turbine will help it to blend in with nearby structures while leaving other more isolated areas of the island untouched. We anticipate that some may see the sight of a turbine on Monhegan as a symbol of increased energy independence, self-sufficiency and/or commitment to the environment.

Computer photo simulations of the site with a turbine will be posted as soon as they become available.

Air & Climate Impact
Electricity generation is responsible for 40% of the United States’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the gas that has been proven to be a main contributor to climate change. To combat climate change and to promote sustainable development, the State of Maine has made a number of commitments over the years to reduce its CO2 emissions and to increase its stock of renewable energy statewide. Regardless of its size, a wind power project on Monhegan can contribute to these larger efforts while also helping to safeguard air and water quality on the island.

It is estimated that in 2006, the Monhegan diesel system released 341 tons of CO2 in the electricity generation phase alone. While these emissions are dwarfed by the large-scale utilities in shore, they are likely responsible for the largest percentage of the island’s carbon footprint. The installation of a wind turbine would create a wind-diesel hybrid system that would vastly reduce the amount of diesel fuel burned each year, thus reducing the CO2 output of the generators as well as the emissions related to the extraction, refining and transport of diesel. Wind turbines require only minimal amounts of fossil fuel for the parts and travel related to their maintenance. They can also be disassembled and recycled once they have reached the end of their lifespan.