Wind fables seduce, but Maine facts reveal HUGE WASTE

Why our well-intended policies are causing more harm than good

By Chris O'Neil, Special to the BDN

Last Tuesday, Sept. 8, the New England electricity grid system operator (ISO-NE) had a terrible day. What played out Tuesday (and dozens of other days, especially in summer and winter) is a glaring example of our feel-good energy policies leading to catastrophic results.

Temperatures were in the high 80s all over New England Tuesday. The ISO-NE projected a peak load (demand) of 24,000 megawatts per hour (MWH) for the day. We sprinted past that number at noon. While spot prices started the day under $30 per MWH they topped $1,000 before we finished lunch (that’s the difference between 3 cents per KWH and $1 per KWH)! Immediately ISO-NE went to Alert 2 status for the remainder of the day. This is when factories are asked by the grid to close up shop and send workers home. It is also when idle coal and oil plants fire up. The fiasco lasted until past 7 p.m.

New England has about 750 MW of wind capacity. We have about 850 MW of solar capacity, almost all of which is on rooftops where owners are able to sell their excess power to the grid. That combined 1,600 MW, an “investment” of at least $4 billion, wasn’t able to contribute even half of 1 percent of load Tuesday. It never exceeded 50 MWH all day, and at 5 p.m. when the sun was still intense and load was at daily peak, solar was contributing zero. (When the temperature gets hot, solar owners turn up their air conditioning so there is no power left for them to send to the grid.)

The billions New England wasted in the last decade on unsustainable feel-good generation assets were the same billions that should have been invested in critical, dependable, clean energy infrastructure. Specifically, our natural gastransmission constraints and our lack of access to large-scale Canadian hydronow stand as tragic examples of our grossly negligent misappropriation of resources.

The result of our negligence? While a few years ago we had almost entirely gotten off oil and coal, in the last three years we have quadrupled our burning of dirty oil for electricity generation. Why? Because when the power is needed on hot or cold days, all the region’s natural gas is being used by homes and businesses. Just 200 miles north of the world’s richest gas fields and lowest gas prices, we cannot get enough gas to run the dozens of new clean electric plants we bought to replace the coal and oil plants.

But shouldn’t Maine do its part to save the planet? Remember, only two statesin the nation have electric sectors that emit less CO2 than Maine. Maine has thehighest renewable portfolio standard in America, and in 2012 more than 99 percent of Maine generation was from clean sources other than oil and coal. But our unsustainable energy policy is now increasing rates, taxes and pollution. Amazingly, transportation accounts for almost five times more CO2 in Maine than electricity does. Yet, our Legislature raised the Interstate 95 speed limits while passing incentives for wind developers.

This is why Maine is increasingly getting dirty emissions from southern New England’s old plants. The absurdly high peak electric rates are unnecessarily bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars from Maine’s economy, and billions from New England’s economy. Scarce tax dollars funnel to wealthy wind developers, and vast expanses of Maine are slated to be industrialized with 50-story turbines.

But looking at those majestic white turbines on Maine mountains makes people in Massachusetts and Connecticut feel good.

Wind energy, as evident in Tuesday’s two-tenths of 1 percent contribution to load, cannot replace or even materially displace conventional grid generation.

Feel-good energy policy looks like this, and it is a major reason we are foolhardy to destroy our mountains with useless, unnecessary, unaffordable, unsustainable wind plants. If wind energy’s positive benefits could actually exceed its negative impacts, then maybe a few mountains could justifiably be destroyed. But we know otherwise.

The Friends of Maine’s Mountains mission is to educate the public about how destructive this feel-good policy is. Maine’s economy and environment are too important to squander.

Chris O’Neil is vice president of Public Affairs at Friends of Maine’s Mountains.

CAN'T STOP US: Friends and Allies continue Maine’s fight

Friends of Maine’s Mountains, as well as its many Allies throughout this gorgeous state, continue to fight the irrational, knee-jerk impulse to believe that “wind energy” is not an elaborate chase for subsidy (cold hard cash.) It absolutely is, and you can find out why HERE.

When you take a strong position, you take shots. And yet we ARE making progress, despite taking pot shots from all sides. (Thanks, Suze Orman, this column was very helpful!) You want proof that FMM and its allies are resilient and will continue to persevere? Check out THIS story from MPBN’s A.J. Higgins. We continue the fight, no matter the odds:

A.J. Higgins reports on a bill that would make major changes to Maine's wind power policies.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The future of wind energy in Maine is up in the air, as lawmakers consider a comprehensive bill that would ease the state's original goals for wind energy generation. Republican Rep. Beth O'Connor says her bill provides the kind of changes that are long overdue for opponents of wind turbine farms who feel their concerns are ignored. But supporters of wind power say O'Connor's bill threatens clean energy initiatives and Maine jobs.

CLICK HERE for full story by A.J. Higgins and Maine Public Radio.

CLIMBING EVEREST: 62,000 signatures and several million dollars

Our network should know about an important meeting on May 2. As you recall, FMM’s longtime supporter Dan Remian has been working on a statewide referendum campaign that seeks changes to the Wind Law. Saving Maine has teamed up with Dan to host an informational meeting in Freeport that you might want to attend. There’s no information about the meeting on the Saving Maine web site, and they appear not to have a Facebook page or Twitter account, but if you drop us a line at MaineMountainFriends@gmail.com, we’ll be happy to forward you the invitation.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains’nonprofit tax status prohibits us from engaging in political activity, but we plan to be there. For the better part of a year now, with Dan leading the valliant charge, a major Saving Maine priority has been gathering signatures on an initiative to amend the 2008 Wind Act. They need 62,000 signatures to get this initiative on the 2016 ballot, so it’ll be very exciting to hear how much progress their effort has made. Given that the deadline is just a few months away, by this point they’re more than likely just a few thousand short.

Of course getting the signatures is the easy part. There will be major political challenges in convincing voters that the Legislature can make the referendum work if passed. And as anyone who has ever worked on a referendum campaign knows (bear-baiting, casinos, etc.), it’s all about the TV buy. To win, you must be equipped to do battle on TV. You’ve got to have a great message, and you have to buy enough gross rating points to compete with the several million dollars that the industrial wind developers will hurl at the defeat of this measure. So, more than the report on signatures, the fundraising report on May 2 will be very indicative of the real chances for success. Again, we can’t engage in political activity, but here’s what FMM has done to pitch in:

  • In 2014, we helped publicize the launch of Saving Maine. (HERE”S THE LINK.)
  • Also in 2014, we held our Annual Wind Forum in Freeport, at which the Saving Maine petition was discussed in detail. (YOUTUBE EXCERPT HERE.)
  • We offered an ongoing publishing opportunity to any wind opponent. (HERE’S THE LINK.)
  • We published a guest column, “Change the wind law.” (HERE’S THE LINK.)
  • We created the online links to the petition that Saving Maine is using liberally on its web page. (HERE’S THE LINK.)

Saving Maine’s ambition is exciting. We wish them the very best, and we’re looking forward to the May 2 progress reports. While they champion a winning referendum campaign, FMM will complement their effort by continuing our education mission at the Maine Legislature, at the regulatory agencies, with the media, and online with continued publishing about why industrial wind is such a bad idea.

FMM's Chris O'Neil reports from Augusta

As many of you know, Friends of Maine's Mountains tries its best to maintain a presence in Augusta. That's where the action is, at the Maine Legislature and at the regulatory hearings. We are are out-manned, out-gunned and certainly out-spent, but nevertheless determined to be "in the arena" in defense of Maine's mountains. Our representative is Chris O'Neil, and today we are pleased to present Chris' report from the Statehouse.

THIS WEEK'S NEWS FROM AUGUSTA

The FMM legislation is still being drafted

FMM's bill is in the hands of the Legislature's staff.  Expect to see it printed soon. Rep. Beth O'Connor is the sponsor for the bill that aims to correct the most noteworthy flaws in Maine's Wind Energy Act, while maximizing benefit from Maine's pursuit of renewable energy.

The so-called "100 Megawatt" legislation

Last week was the hearing for LD 132,  An Act to Remove the 100 Megawatt Cap on Hydropower Under the Renewable Resources Laws.  The bill's sponsor has offered an amendment that would treat all renewables equally regarding government mandates, allowing them to compete in the marketplace.  As FMM often points out to legislators, not all energy sources are equal.  Among renewables there are high quality and low quality resources, so we ought not force ratepayers to purchase low quality.

If passage of LD 132 helps to hasten procurement of Canadian hydropower by our partner states in the ISO-New England, it will be good for ratepayers, good for the environment, and good for Maine's mountains.

With over 5000 megawatts of firm generating capacity nearing retirement in New England (most of it dirty old coal and oil plants), our grid needs to find significant quantities of dispatchable, affordable power.  No amount of low quality wind energy can replace (or even displace) this base load and peak load generation. High quality hydropower from Newfoundland, Labrador, and Quebec can not only sustain our grid needs, it can also fulfill the various states' renewable mandates.

For senseless political reasons, this legislation has been defeated in the past. New England is approaching crisis because of natural gas pipeline deficiencies. Our continued negligence of such critical infrastructure cannot continue.  Likewise, to block this hydropower enhancement is to harm Maine's clean air and Maine's economy.

See FMM's testimony on the bill by clicking HERE.

Citizens' Rights Legislation

LD 791 is a Wind Lobby bill that incredibly seeks to expand the abilities of wind developers to run roughshod over rural Maine and its residents. This bill will be heard the Agriculture Committee on April 14. The Agriculture Committee oversees the Land Use Planning Commission, which has jurisdiction over the Unorganized Territory.

LD 828 is a citizen-written bill that seeks to restore the abilities of rural Mainers who need to have some control over wind development in their communities, like other Mainers have. Could be an interesting juxtaposition with LD 791, given the decreasing popularity of wind energy. The two bills will get back-to-back public hearings on April 14.  To learn more about this important legislation CLICK HERE.

Scenic Impact Legislation

LD 911 is important legislation that seeks to restore some reasonable scenic impact protections to the wind project siting requirements. With turbine heights now routinely topping 500 feet, with the increasing number of turbines per project, and with the cumulative number of projects coming to Maine, it is past time to protect Maine's Quality of Place. The public hearing might be in late April and should be announced soon.

Cost of Electricity Legislation

LD 1107 is a curious bill that seeks to do three things:

1.  Mandate a 40% off-peak discount for electricity customers. This would be good for electric thermal storage heat, electric vehicles, etc.  Much of the off-peak time is when New England electricity is cleanest (the dams and nuke plants can satisfy almost all demand).

2.  Mandate T&D (poles and wires) rate discounts (to be determined) for electric customers who purchase power from new renewables (essentially wind). Of course, ratepayers buy electricity from the grid, not directly from any generator. Morever, wind is a driver of T&D rates, so seeking to discount it makes no sense.

3.  Conduct a study of electricity costs.  At the April 15 public hearing in the Utilities Committee, FMM will likely support this provision, with caveats.

Maine, you’re an eyewitness to a train wreck

Business reporter Darren Fishell at the Bangor Daily News wrote earlier today that, “The corporate subsidy watchdog agency Good Jobs First found Central Maine Power Co. parent company Iberdrola topped the list of all recipients of federal grants and tax credits, primarily in tax credits for its renewable energy developments.” Here’s a link to the FULL STORY.

Why does that matter to you, the Maine electricity ratepayer and taxpayer? Iberdrola is a Spanish company. Now that you know, we present you with this “executive summary” of what blowing up the tops of Maine’s scenic mountains to build industrial wind factories is all about.

  • The wind peddlers use federal subsidies, ratepayer subsidies and “expedited” permitting to build the turbines. They reach into YOUR pockets.
  • The turbines directly and negatively impact one of Maine’s most important industries, tourism.
  • The huge turbines operate only 25% of the time, because that’s how often the wind blows at required velocities in Maine.
  • Because these turbines DON’T generate electricity 75% of the time, they do NOTHING to get Maine off fossil fuels. Conventional electricity power plants driven by fossil fuels must stay on line and keep the region’s electricity grid stable when the wind turbines, most of the time, are not producing electricity.
  • Nevertheless, transmission lines must be built from the remote mountain turbines, so companies like Iberdrola charge Maine people for the cost of building these lines.
  • Your electric rates skyrocket.
  • Here’s the kicker. The transmission lines send the electricity to Massachusetts and Connecticut (not to Maine customers), so those states can claim they’re using “renewable energy.” Maine benefits not all.

So there’s your crash course in Wind Power Economics 101. You pay, the U.S. sends money and profits to Spain, and not a single climate problem gets solved.

Press release from Friends of Maine's Mountains

Bingham Wind project: opponents concerned about decommissioning costs

(Portland, Maine) The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) posted its draft recommendation today on the Bingham Wind Project appeal.

The Board packet materials for the March 5, 2015 meeting (including the staff recommendation / Draft Board Order) are now posted on the Board’s webpage at www.maine.gov/dep/bep under the March 5 Agenda. On March 5 the BEP will hear oral arguments. 

Friends of Maine's Mountains (FMM) has opposed the project for more than two years two years. The Department of Environmental Protection granted the license, and FMM promptly filed the appeal last fall when First Wind's financial future was cloudy.

“We’re not surprised to see the DEP staff defending their original decision,” said Rand Stowell, a member of the FMM board of directors. “Even though it is a rare occurrence, we hope that the BEP will overturn the decision. But if they won't overturn it, at the very least we would like to see some stricter conditions placed on the permit.”

Stowell conceded that it is difficult to win an appeal Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court, but held open the possibility that FMM will appeal if the BEP gives the project a green light.

“We’d like to see much tougher standards on the question of decommissioning wind turbines when they’ve exhausted their useful life. We find that, generally, this issue does not get astute consideration from policy makers,” Stowell said.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM) is an non-profit educational organization that raises awareness of the destructive toll that industrial wind turbines inflict on Maine’s precious and finite mountain areas. For more information, www.FriendsOfMainesMountains.org.

Destroying Maine's mountains AND raising the speed limit

Some things, when you take the time to fully consider context, don't make any sense at all.

Adam Lee.

Adam Lee.

As an example, Adam Lee generously commits his time, talent, and treasure to many good causes. He has served on the boards of Maine Public Broadcasting, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Audubon and Maine Conservation Voters. These are four vocal supporters of Big Wind (possibly because they are also FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED BY Big Wind). Whether he intended it or not, Mr. Lee’s philanthropy has promoted industrial wind complex development for the intended noble cause of reducing CO2 emissions.

He is also the biggest car salesman in Maine.  

So Mr. Lee is closely tied to Maine's worst CO2 emissions source - Transportation. (According to the EPA, Maine's Transportation sector is responsible for almost 5 TIMES MORE CO2 than the Electricity Generation sector.)  

Did anyone hear a peep from Mr. Lee and all those Big Wind cheerleading organizations two years ago when, without debate or even a single NO vote, the Legislature increased the speed limit on I-95?  

Not that Mr. Lee is pro CO2 … in fact he has long called upon Congress to increase CAFE standards for car manufacturers.  No, this is an ironic tale about lawmakers making ill-informed, misguided, feel-good policy decisions.  Decisions that can have massive negative impacts.

New Legislature: Best Wishes, Hope, and a Request

Since 2007, Maine, for the noble cause of reducing CO2, has been falling all over itself spending more than a Billion dollars on mountain wind energy complexes (and spending a lot more on the transmission buildup).

This costly and unnecessary infrastructure adds essentially nothing to the grid, and it has not shown any reduction in CO2. Yet our profligate spending on ineffective wind energy has transpired while we've concurrently neglected critical energy infrastructure investments in gas pipelines and Canadian hydro. It felt good for a while, but now it is starting to sting.

If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we ‘d all be driving $25 cars that get 1000 MPG
— Bill Gates

Those two infrastructure deficiencies matter a lot. No, gas and hydro aren’t as cute as wind energy, but they work and we need them. They are clean. Affordable. And our neglect of them is now bleeding Billions from the New England economy via spiraling rates while adding insult to injury: we now are burning more oil and more coal, when only a few years ago we had essentially “gotten off of” oil and coal. This has clearly proven to be a grossly negligent and harmful misallocation of resources. 

What not to do if we’re concerned about CO2

In the most recent year of EPA data (2012) Electricity Generation accounted for only 10.8% of Maine's CO2 emissions.  But Transportation CO2 was responsible for a whopping 50.1% of Maine CO2 output. See the spreadsheet analysis of data downloaded from the EPA's website. 

Click here to see how much more gasoline we burn (and how much more CO2 we belch out) when we drive at high speeds.   

So Maine’s Transportation Sector is responsible for almost FIVE TIMES MORE CO2 than our Electricity Sector. Despite this fact, recent Maine Legislatures have rolled out every possible red carpet for expensive, unnecessary, unsustainable wind energy, which doesn’t move the needle. Yet two years ago Maine legislators unanimously passed a bill that raised highway speed limits. They didn’t even debate it!

If the roof on your house is caving in, buy a bird bath?

When in 2012, coal and oil combined were only 4% of New England electricity generation, and less than 1% of Maine generation, today our deficiencies in gas pipeline / Canadian hydro infrastructure result in coal and oil churning out 4 to 6 times more electricity, at great cost, and the dirty air blows to Maine. It's truly a lose-lose. 

On most days this winter the grid operator’s ISO-NE dashboard shows that coal and oil are generating up to 20% of New England’s electricity. Because of our pipeline deficiency, natural gas is regularly being reduced from its usual 50% to as low as 30%. While this is happening, New England's $2 Billion wind "investment" is usually generating only about 1% of New England’s load, oftentimes when there is no demand. 

So why are we going backwards?

Why are we increasing our reliance on the dirty expensive stuff?  It is the result of our grossly negligent misallocation of resources. Spending Billions on wind infrastructure when we should have been planning for +5000 megawatts of coming power plant retirements. Base load and peak load plants that can only be replaced by firm generation (like gas and hydro). It's like a homeowner spending the paycheck on patio furniture when the roof is leaking.    

The electricity sectors of only two states, Vermont and Idaho, emit less CO2 than Maine. Maine has the #1 highest Renewable Portfolio Standard in the nation. We’ve shown the world how to get off oil and coal. So let's stop beating ourselves up about "doing our part," fouling our wild areas with industrial wind complexes that are neither necessary nor useful, while bleeding Billions from our economy.  

While a lot of people felt good (and a few people got rich) when Maine jumped headlong into wind energy, it has turned out to be a terribly misguided policy direction.

What can we do?

Friends of Maine’s Mountains urges the new Legislature to scrutinize feel-good proposals, to think critically over the next two years, and to work for sensible policies that benefit our environment and our economy. 

INEXCUSABLE: Corruption in Maine exposed

How humiliating. Lucky for Jeremy Payne that his  interview was on radio, not TV, so nobody could see him sweating like Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential debates.. Shall we explain?

On the very same day that Mr. Payne, president of the Maine Renewable Energy Association, appeared on a radio show to brag about a new “study” his group has bought and paid for, an independent media outlet was explaining --- in excruciating detail --- how Payne and his cronies have bought and paid for the Maine Legislature. (OUCH.)

Payne was on Bangor radio station WZON yesterday morning, January 7th, promoting a “study” concocted by a man noted for his ineptness in THIS NEWS ARTICLE. (You can hear the full interview with Payne at THIS LINK.) The study claims to detail how much money the wind industry spends in Maine, right down to the last Burger King hamburger purchased at the Kennebunk exit of the Maine Turnpike. (Yes, the “study” is truly THAT pathetic.) Isn't it remarkable how every time wind lobbyists start to feel the heat, they miraculously produce a rosy study (paid for with tax tax subsidies extracted from YOUR pocket) blathering on about how much money they spend? Unfortunately for them, Maine taxpayers and electricity ratepayers are catching on. 

The press is catching on, too.

At the very hour Payne was spinning PR fairy tales on WZON, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting was publishing its own study, aptly entitled “A study in how special interests get their way in the Maine Legislature.“ (OUCH.) You can read the FULL ARTICLE HERE. Payne figures prominently in the story, and according to the article, he appears to be a central figure in a corrupt process that funnels money to legislators in exchange for profoundly favorable treatment in the lawmaking process. (As an example, consider this excerpt: “The story of how the wind industry’s problem was taken up by Senate President Alfond, D-Portland, and his staff demonstrates a deep level of coordination between special interests and legislative leaders that often leaves citizens on the sidelines of the democratic process.”) (OUCH AGAIN.)

(We responded to Mr. Payne this morning on WZON Radio: AUDIO LINK HERE.)

In a world in which Payne’s paymasters silence media outlets like MPBN (link) and environmental groups like Maine Audubon (link) with large corporate contributions (Hey, why not? --- greasing palms works in the Maine Legislature), thank goodness for the work of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. If you take the time to read the FULL ARTICLE HERE, and visit all the links within the story, we guarantee that you will be revolted by what they have discovered. For instance, there are 178 pages of e-mails and documents at THIS LINK that document incestuous relationships and unbelievably blunt exchanges between wind lobbyists and legislative power brokers. The purpose? To put money in the pockets of wind speculators, at the expense of YOU, the Maine taxpayer and electricity ratepayer!

If you take the time to read this article and all the e-mails, please mention your disgust to your local state rep or state senator the next time you run in to him/her at the grocery store. We will certainly be doing the same.

As light bills skyrocket, Mainers will revolt

Click HERE for 20 Facts Every Mainer Should Know, which we just updated today. It’s information about wind power in Maine, but without the political correctness and “green gobbledygook” from the spin doctors who are trying to pocket your tax dollars and raise your electric rates. The “20 Facts” are important, and this excerpt today from a Bangor Daily News article explains why:

Opponents of wind projects at the local and state levels continued to pose regulatory challenges to new projects through appeals that have risen to the state’s top court, which has clarified parts of the state’s regulatory appeals process.

That’s right, folks. Our effort is making a difference, and we intend to continue our education effort in 2015. And here’s why we must do this, as explained by the very same BDN reporter in the same article:

Electricity prices around the region shot up. Power prices have risen for small-business customers in Maine and residential customers in other New England states, all of which share a power grid. Similar increases are expected to hit Maine’s residential power customers in March.

Drastically higher electric rates, without doing anything to get Maine off oil. That’s what wind turbines do for Maine. We don’t think Mainers will stand for it, especially after they read "20 Facts.” 

FMM Fan Mail

Here at FMM we get lots of praise from supporters who appreciate the good work we do in protecting Maine’s economy and environment.  But we get some unfriendly mail too, as well as some fair inquiry.  Check out the note we recently received, and the exchange that followed it:

“Hello friends of fossil energy.  Say hi to the Koch brothers, or, at least, their bag man.”

FMM:  Dear Mr. _____

Please look a little closer.  Just because FMM opposes grid scale wind energy does not mean that FMM favors “fossil energy.” 

Thank you.  FMM

“What do you favor in regard to energy?”

FMM: 

Hello Mr. ____

Good question. We often discuss "energy" and electricity separately.  For overall energy, that which is the best balance of clean, affordable, and sustainable.  

Specifically for electricity, the same, although electricity generation in Maine is light years ahead of overall energy.  For instance, Maine CO2 emissions from Transportation are about half of all Maine CO2 emissions. That is four times as much CO2 as from Electricity. 

In answer to your question, and as it concerns electricity, we ask why so many people presume that massive change is needed.  Maine's electricity CO2 is third least in America, and the Maine Renewable Portfolio Standard is the highest in the nation. 99% of Maine electricity generation is from clean sources other than coal and oil.  

Wind does nothing to replace or even displace conventional generation.  If we want to help close dirty coal and oil plants elsewhere, it cannot be done with wind, which has the dual fatal flaws: intermittent and unpredictable. Higher-quality tidal energy for instance is intermittent, but it is entirely predictable.  Many higher quality renewables could do the job, and indeed they do.  

In short, Maine wind energy is not sustainable, useful or necessary. It is expensive and it requires expensive transmission infrastructure too. Its impacts far exceed its benefits, so it should be avoided.

Thank you for taking the time to ask.   FMM

Gov. LePage disabled offshore wind by scaring off Statoil.You still aren’t being specific about sources you would find acceptable.”

FMM: 

Hello Mr. _____

You asked:  "You still aren’t being specific about sources you would find acceptable."  

To repeat, we find "acceptable" that which is clean, affordable, sustainable, useful, and necessary.  One might argue that wind is somewhat clean, but it falls short of the other criteria. 

Your question presupposes that we want or need to drastically change that which we have. What we have is excellent. Unfortunately Maine Yankee is gone, but Maine, as noted earlier, adapted well to that loss. Your question and apparent premise is like asking the Patriots' coach who he wants for a quarterback.  He's likely to reply that he's pretty satisfied with Tom Brady.

As for Statoil, FMM was pleased that they abandoned Maine (whether they were "scared off" or not).  Their “research” project was not useful, necessary, sustainable, or affordable.  The above market rates they were awarded by a PUC mandate were five times the market rate -- for a tiny amount of low quality electricity. One of the world's largest oil companies, Statoil pours plenty of its own money into R&D where it thinks it can realize a return. Statoil did not need to get a $200 million gift from the working people of Maine, and their retreat proved that they would not have “invested” their own money in the project, probably because there was obviously no return on investment. 

Thanks again for your interest.

FMM

NEWSFLASH: paper spikes political correctness on wind energy

Too bad this is news, but it is; and to honor the occasion we might have to petition the Governor to declare a state holiday.

The industrial wind turbine industry has taken a serious body blow....is maine's press corps finally taking a critical look underneath the hood?

The industrial wind turbine industry has taken a serious body blow....is maine's press corps finally taking a critical look underneath the hood?

One of Maine’s venerable newspapers, The Ellsworth American, has abandoned pack journalism and political correctness, and instead has introduced some critical thinking to the debate on wind energy in Maine. It has published an editorial this week that actually expresses skepticism about wind industry subsidies, which, in the world of Maine media, is practically unheard of.

So badly do Maine reporters want to “believe in green,” so skilled has the industry PR machine been, and so compromising have been their donations to organizations like MPBN (link) and Maine Audubon (link), that true analytical thinking has been largely absent from Maine newspapers and airwaves. Until this week, that is, when the Ellsworth American aimed a bright light on some inconvenient truths about the wind industry in Maine:

“Since Maine’s wind energy act became law in 2008, the energy playing field has been tilted sharply in favor of wind developers and against the state’s citizens and the environment in which they live.” And more:

“Maine — and the nation — have had ample time to realize that the wind industry has never fulfilled its promise in the three decades since state and federal governments began doling out tax credits and subsidies. The industry continues to claim it needs special consideration and taxpayer support, even as developers have tucked millions upon millions of dollars into their own pockets.”

Friends of Maine’s Mountains has been pointing out the media’s penchant for ignoring stories that are critical of, or damage to, the wind industry. We’ve had media in Massachusetts (link) and Hawaii (link) cover wind energy setbacks here in Maine that reporters here in the state refused to cover. The Ellsworth American’s editorial, along with previous excellent reporting by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, may indicate that at long last, the free ride in the media that the wind industry has always enjoyed may be coming to an end. And speaking of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, the following are some excerpts, for those who haven’t read them yet, by reporter Naomi Schalit.

DAMNING EXCERPT: While he was Maine’s chief utilities regulator, Kurt Adams accepted an ownership interest in a leading wind energy company. One month later, in May 2008, he went to work for that company, First Wind, as a senior vice president. The move from a state job to the private sector richly rewarded Adams: A "summary compensation table" in a recent SEC filing shows that Adams's 2009 compensation of $1.3 million included $315,000 in salary, $658,000 in stock awards, $29,000 of "other" compensation and $315,000 in "non-equity incentives." Full article, “PUC chairman took equity stake in wind company,” at this link.

DAMNING EXCERPT: Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met – the number is likely to be at least 1,000 and perhaps as high as 2,000. Instead, they got carried along in the wave of enthusiasm that emerged from the administration, the legislative committee, wind power developers and the governor’s task force. “Wind power was exciting,” says Pingree. “I think legislators had a sense we wanted to be bold and have the state be a real leader in this area -- they may not have known how many turbines, or the challenges of siting that many turbines.” Full article, “Wind-swept task force set the rules,” at this link.

DAMNING EXCERPT: There was never a mandate for the task force to examine the relative merits of wind power development in Maine. Instead, members started from the assumption that wind power should be developed in Maine, and the sooner, the better. Full article, “Wind power bandwagon hits bump in the road,” at this link.

Today's wind news with MAJOR implications for Maine

“…(O)pponents of large-scale wind development said it was built too close to homes. And neighbors say they suffer at times from repetitive noises and vibrations that disrupt sleep, trigger health problems and erode the quality of island life.”

Portland Press Herald, FULL STORY

“…(T)he wind turbines that Anbaric and National Grid plan to tap in northern Maine have not yet been built because no transmission project has been approved.”

Boston Globe, FULL STORY

GUEST COLUMN: “Change the wind law”

Editor’s Note: Friends of Maine Mountains announced last month that here on this blog space, we will publish factual information and videos from anti-wind activists all across Maine and the world, upon request. This guest column by Dan Remian is the first that we have received, and we are pleased to publish his work in this forum. If you are interested in submitting, please make your submission at mainemountainfriends@gmail.com.

Important Information on the Statewide Referendum

Background

In 2007, America was entangled in war with Iraq. Facing high oil and gasoline prices at home, Governor John Baldacci was concerned for Maine's energy future. In the preceding few years, three grid-scale wind energy projects were proposed under Maine’s site location permitting process. Two projects (Mars Hill and Kibby) were approved; the third was fraught with problems and so it was denied. In all three cases, Maine’s traditional permitting process worked, but potential wind developers were unhappy about the case that was denied. 

Wind developers and well-intentioned conservation groups saw an opportunity.  Together they urged Baldacci to assemble a task force that would make permitting easier for wind energy applicants, made urgent by the world’s political and economic oil crisis. Energy experts were skeptical about the charge, pointing out that Maine had already “gotten off oil” for electricity generation purposes, and that, despite popular opinion,  wind energy was in fact low benefit and high impact.

The task force was dominated by people with strong ties to the wind industry. Their “solution” to the oil crisis/wind opposition “problem” was to provide a special zoning and permitting process for wind energy projects: Maine's Wind Law. It passed without debate by unanimous votes in the House and Senate. With the stroke of Baldacci’s pen in 2008, the red carpet was rolled out for a level of rural industrial development that was unprecedented in the Maine history.

The Wind Law is so slanted in favor of the wind developers and so slanted against the citizens of Maine that the Maine Office of Energy and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection have recommended that the law be modified. In over 20 attempts, frustrated citizens and conservation groups have gone to Augusta submitting bills to modify the law -- but the legislature has refused to even consider them. 

This is why there is a Citizens Initiative! The official title of the Citizens Initiative (CI) is: 

AN ACT TO REPEAL AND AMEND SECTIONS OF THE EXPEDITED WIND ENERGY ACT TO CHANGE THE PERMITTING CRITERIA  FOR WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT


This is not a wholesale repeal of the Wind Energy Act. The CI will simply level the playing field and restore citizens' rights. If approved by Maine voters, the law as amended by the CI will:

  1. Eliminate the special expedited permitting process that is destroying many of Maine’s most valuable natural areas
  2. Leave in place a Wind Law that is fair, that will not prevent wind development and that will allow wind project permitting decisions to be based on science and empirical evidence.
  3. Restore to citizens who live in 2/3 of the State their voice in local wind project permitting
  4. Restore the right of Maine citizens to appeal wind energy permitting decisions in Superior Court
  5. Eliminate arbitrary and unreasonable wind energy goals that create artificial demand and disrupt free markets
  6. Require a wind developer to obtain a Public Benefit Determination:
  • proving that Maine needs the additional electricity generation;
  • proving that the electricity generated by Maine wind facilities will be for the benefit of Maine citizens;
  • proving that turbine noise emissions meet American National Standards Institute criteria;
  • that includes a bond to cover 100% of the cost of decommissioning the turbines and restoring the landscape when the project is no longer viable.

7. Challenge assumptions in the Wind Law that as a result of wind development:

  • fossil fuel energy facilities will be closed;
  • we will achieve energy independence by reducing our use of foreign oil;
  • our CO2 emissions will decline and climate change will be controlled;
  • wind energy will have only positive benefits for our health and environment.

What We Need To Do

A CI relies on citizen support for passage. If we get enough signatures the petition will go to the Legislature for consideration. The Legislature may choose to enact it or send it to the voters as a ballot measure. The first step was getting Secretary of State approval of the petition language. That step is complete and Maine citizens can now sign the petition that is being circulated. Click here to see the petition.

We need to gather over 50,000 signatures. That's where I hope you will help. Please help us by pledging to collect a certain number of signatures. How many do you think you can get?  5?  50?  500?  Can you ask other concerned citizens to collect signatures too? 

You may have noticed that as more and more of these projects are built, the public's attitude has shifted against the wind developers. We are finding citizens eager to sign petitions. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to collect signatures.

A person collecting signatures is known as a Circulator. Both Circulators and signers must be Maine residents registered to vote in Maine. The rest is as easy as signing your name.  If you’re ready to help I can provide you with everything you need to know.

We want the CI on the November 2015 Ballot. Our deadline to collect all the necessary signatures is January 22, 2015. This is urgent, so contact me today if you can help.

As always, thank you for pitching in to protect Maine's environment and economy.

Dan Remain, Cushing, ME, (207) 354-0714,Email  N7CD@gwi.net

EASY, SO EASY --- that's what this is for you

How’d you like to help us arrange a funeral for the Production Tax Credit (PTC)?

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
— Author Unknown

As you probably know already, the PTC is a terrible tax policy that “has fostered a rush of developers who are rewarded for siting turbines on every free acre that has or might get transmission access, no matter who is in the way and no matter the cost to citizens.” It’s time to kill the PTC.

Many of you will be getting an e-mail soon, sent via Constant Contact, from Friends of Maine’s Mountains. It will be a copy of a letter we are sending to U.S. Senators King and Collins, and U.S. Representatives Pingree and Michaud, asking them not to renew the PTC. You’ll be able to “sign” the letter by reply e-mail to us. (If you’re not on our list but you’d like to receive this, please drop a quick note to mainemountainfriends@gmail.com). Once we collect all the signatures, we will facilitate their delivery to Congress.

You oppose industrial wind factories on the tops of Maine’s beautiful mountain ranges? This is an EASY way for you to pitch in. If you'd like to read the letter, CLICK HERE. Happy Thanksgiving.

“Everyone has a stake in thwarting bunko schemes of such enormity”

At its annual summit earlier this month, Friends of Maine's Mountains (FMM) rallied several anti-wind organizations together and also welcomed Jon Boone as keynote speaker, just a few days after the election in which the wind industry had bet heavily on the wrong gubernatorial candidate, as we explained in THIS previous blog post.)

Mr. Boone pulled no punches. He is a resident of Maryland, an author and former university administrator, someone who has thought very deeply about the “get rich quick” aspects of government’s rush to prop up industrial wind speculators with steep subsidies and ratepayer increases. He is the founder of Stop Ill Wind, and one of the earliest American leaders in the fight against industrial wind power. His presentation was entitled, “Energy, Power, Productivity: Why Wind Represents Dysfunctional Technology.” If you’d like to watch the tail end of his presentation CLICK HERE, but he summed it all up very nicely with one simple sentence, “Everyone has a stake in thwarting bunko schemes of such enormity.”

As part of its educational mission, the reason our organization was formed several years ago, Friends of Maine’s Mountains gathers concerned citizens from around the state every November to discuss ways to protect Maine's environment and economy from the impacts of industrial wind power. In addition to Boone, attendees this year enjoyed presentations from the group that is planning a statewide referendum on wind power, ratepayer advocates, opponents to various wind developments, and conservation organizations. This was one of the best conferences yet, and we hope next year’s will be even better. Maybe we’ll see you there, to compare notes on the fierce and effective opposition that all of us expect to deploy in the next 12 months. As this year’s attendees surely agree, it is vital that all of us continue to organize, inform, cooperate, collaborate and communicate.

Kvetch & complain, or achieve & accomplish?

What are YOU personally more likely to do? If it’s the latter, then maybe we can help.

If you have something to say, we can help.

If you have something to say, we can help.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains is an educational organization, but we’re not afraid to be aggressive if the situation calls for it. When it’s time to act, that’s what we try to do. CLICK HERE for a link to one recent example. Let’s give you another example. This space, the one in which we are now communicating with you, is our blog. It functions as both the FMM newspaper and the FMM television station. It attracts thousands of visitors in any given month. What’s published here is followed by reporters, by legislators, and the general public. And what’s more, our network continues to grow as we publish more and more fresh material about the economic Ponzi scheme known as “industrial wind.”

One of the most common complaints we hear is that the media won’t publish your side of the story. So guess what? We’ll publish it. That’s right, folks. You have news that’s not being covered? We’ll cover it. You want to put together a video and have it reach a decent-sized audience? We’ll put you “on the air.”

Action is the foundational key to all success.
— Pablo Picasso

Google “wind opposition Maine” and you’ll see that FMM is one of the first search results that pop up. That’s why most of the reporters covering the recent sale of First Wind came looking for Friends of Maine’s Mountains when they needed an authoritative quote from the opposition. (Reporters Google, too, you know!)

So it occurred to us --- if we have this access, why not give YOU access to our growing network? We know there is a lot of expertise and wisdom out there, and we figure the citizens of Maine should be able to tap into your wisdom. Whaddya say, game to give it a shot? Great. Here are some basic guidelines.

  • Alert us by dropping an e-mail to: fmmpressoffice@gmail.com.
  • Be receptive, please, to suggested edits that improve the piece.
  • When writing a blog entry, try to keep it to 3 or 4 paragraphs.
  • When producing a video, try to keep finished product between 1-3 minutes.
  • If you have raw video that you’re not sure how to edit, we will consider providing those services.
  • In all cases we will credit the writer/producer, happily. However, if you would rather contribute anonymously, be sure to make that clear.
  • It’s OK to be tough. But we ask that you be as professional as possible, and as factual as possible.
  • Especially when writing blog posts, try to supply as many supporting Internet links as possible, and photographs. It’s always best to create the most informative piece possible, and that includes documentation. Readers like to verify.
  • For large files, especially video, alert us ahead of time at fmmpressoffice@gmail.com, and we’ll set up a file transfer protocol which will make things easier.

You say the media is not covering your story? Remember, things have changed, and this applies now to all of us: WE ARE THE MEDIA. SO PUBLISH…and achieve.

Greedily CASHING OUT in Maine

First Wind's schtick was money, not progress

Hello Friends. Perhaps First Wind should have named itself “Me First.” Because this past week offered the most blatant proof yet that the company’s interest in Maine was never energy independence for our state. It was ALWAYS purely financial. Of course, there are still many starry-eyed believers out there addicted to the PR opium that the industry traffics in Maine. But for sober and pragmatic analysts, this week’s news confirms (yet again) that Maine is a prime target for plunder, and unabashedly picking the pockets of the state’s ratepayers and taxpayers is how Wall Street will accomplish that.

By now you've seen the news that our biggest menace is being sold to SunEdison, a major player in solar energy. Lots of people are buzzing about it. Here are our initial thoughts:   

IT"S CALLED GETTING RICH. That was always the goal for Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. It had NOTHING to do with helping Maine people. (Photo by W. Marc Bernsau, Boston Business Journal

IT"S CALLED GETTING RICH. That was always the goal for Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. It had NOTHING to do with helping Maine people. (Photo by W. Marc Bernsau, Boston Business Journal

We know First Wind was financially under water and headed for bankruptcy unless it found a white knight to bail it out. Nova Scotia utility Emera could have been the white knight, but for three years now their planned merger, called a Joint Venture Holdco, has been hung up in legal challenges. We have seen the JV Holdco as illegal, but also as a way for First Wind to carpet bomb Maine with sprawling wind projects. We strongly opposed the merger.  

The hedge fund sharks at Madison Dearborn and DE Shaw, surely tired of taking losses (First Wind has been bleeding at least $10 million per month for the last few years), and worried about the Holdco's legal chances, probably called their Wall Street bankster buddies and worked out a fix.

The Board at Sun Edison is a gaggle of Wall Street investment bankers. The management and principals at SunEdison are a bunch of former Wall Street investment bankers. Think: Goldman Sachs, KKR, Blackstone. Citi, JP Morgan…the same incestuous crowd that brought us the mortgage-backed securities bubble which, when it burst, splattered all over the world economy.

They are simply pursuing their latest bubble scheme, this one complete with tax credits and government-imposed consumer mandates…but best of all, COVER (the public thinks it's saving the planet). Their LLCs exist to strip-out cash for as long as it flows. The same cabal has its hands on the political reigns of Washington DC, so watch for the FERC to push ISO-NE transmission upgrades. Watch for continued EPA restrictions on "dirty" generation.  All this when Maine is already a clean energy leader.*

(They) unveiled a deal on Monday to buy First Wind for up to $2.4 billion. That’s a nice reward for First Wind’s private equity backers, Madison Dearborn Partners and D.E. Shaw & Co.
— Jon Chesto, Managing Editor, Boston Business Journal

While Emera's deep pockets paired with First Wind's ambitious plans might have been a massive threat to Maine, at least Emera is a real business, likely to take a long and sustainable view. Witness their HVDC undersea cable investment connecting them to vast high quality clean energy in Newfoundland (NALCOR). That isn't a get rich quick scheme; it's a long term billion dollar + investment that builds value and critical infrastructure for society. SunEdison is in the business of extracting value. Paper. Get rich quick and stay rich. They will not be building critical infrastructure.

The pressing question for us, Friends, is whether they are only interested in First Wind's current projects, some of which are financed with junk 11% paper (think: sub-prime mortgages) so that they can sell that debt at 5%, therein creating more cash to strip? It's easy money when Treasuries are yielding so little. Or will they want, possibly without the Production Tax Credit, to develop new Maine wind projects? We know there are LOTS of wind testing towers (known as “met towers”) out there in Maine's mountains.

Not only could this alliance destroy Maine's Quality of Place, it could destroy the economy (again, and possibly with bailouts, again). With a quarter of New England's firm, dispatchable base load and peak load generating plants (capacity) nearing retirement, what is the grid going to replace them with? Two thousand 50 - story monstrosities in Maine that only work 15 minutes of every hour on average, and generally work when unnecessary?  How are we going to keep the lights on? How are we going to sustain industry? How are we going to pay our light bills if all this useless and unnecessary infrastructure is built?

In losing Emera we might have just put down a bad dog. In gaining SunEdison we might have just adopted a pack of wolves into our house.

*99 percent of Maine's electricity generation already comes from clean sources other than coal and oil. Maine has the #1 highest Renewable Portfolio Standard in the nation.  Only two states (Vermont and Idaho) produce lower CO2 emissions from electricity generation. Transportation is responsible for about half of Maine's CO2 emissions, 4 to 5 times more than from electricity. Yet we are being targeted for wind development and its expensive transmission buildup, even as our legislature unanimously approves increasing the speed limit on the highway!

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Related Reading

Tough questions about spoiling view at Baxter State Park

Last week Friends of Maine’s Mountains, whose mission is educational, sent Chris O’Neil on an educational mission.

Katie Chapman (left), project manager for EDP Renewables, and Jeff Bishop, a member of the company's government relations team. Photo by Whit Richardson, Bangor Daily News.

Katie Chapman (left), project manager for EDP Renewables, and Jeff Bishop, a member of the company's government relations team. Photo by Whit Richardson, Bangor Daily News.

A Texas company that wants to build Maine’s largest industrial wind site in Aroostook County, just 30 miles from Baxter State Park, held a public meeting in Mars Hill. O’Neil is a government relations consultant to Friends, and we wanted him to ask some tough questions. EDP Renewables held its Number Nine Mountain Wind Project Public Informational Meeting (PIM) at the high school gym in Mars Hill. The red lights of the giant turbines on the mountain were flashing just behind the parking lot.

The PIM is required of the developer prior to its application submission, and a summary of the PIM must accompany the application. EDP says it will submit its application by year-end. About 50 people attended, many of them homeowners and camp owners in the Number Nine Lake - Presque Isle Lake area. Some attendees came from towns further south toward Houlton, because they are concerned about new transmission from the project.  

We've learned from previous PIMs that the wind developer likes to set it up "science fair" style, with easels and tables displaying maps, renderings, and other information about the project. Their casually-dressed project managers and PR people mill about the crowd, responding to questions, explaining things, etc. In addition to the EDP people, a Stantec engineer was there to handle technical matters. Nobody on the developer team appeared to be even 40 years old. It wasn't clear whether he was there to answer questions, but a gentleman from Maine Drilling and Blasting had driven up from his home in the Bangor area. 

Chris O'Neil, government relations consultant to Friends of Maine's Mountains.

Chris O'Neil, government relations consultant to Friends of Maine's Mountains.

That "science fair" format allows the developer to provide adequate opportunity for public questions and responses from the applicant. That bold line is straight from DEP Rule Chapter 2, Section 13, which dictates how the PIM must be conducted. Of course, we sent O’Neil to the meeting with questions, some of them provided by our allies.

During the approximately 30 minute "science fair" portion of the program, O’Neil met several of the concerned citizens as they looked anxiously at maps and pointed out their camp's proximity to turbines. He informed several people that they have the right to ask questions -- but not make statements -- per the DEP Rule. He told them to not fall into the trap of asking questions 1 on 1. After about 30 minutes, the company’s PR lady announced that she would show a brief slide show, and everybody sat in the bleachers on one side of the gym. O’Neil remained standing, in plain view. The PR person’s slide show was informational, as required by the DEP Rule. As she concluded the trade show, she said, "So that's the presentation. The Team is here and we'll make ourselves available around the room to answer questions if anyone has them."

One gentleman with whom O’Neil had earlier talked raised his hand in the bleachers and yelled: "I have a question."

The PR lady stuttered and looked nervously back at her team and said into the microphone: "We will all be here for you to ask us questions."

Another man: "I wanna hear his question. And the answer." Crowd:  A murmur of approving "yeahs." PR lady: "We really want to answer your questions and we'll be here to--"

That’s when O’Neil interrupted, "You are required by the rules to 'provide adequate opportunity for public questions.' That is not discretionary. This is that 'opportunity’ and these people deserve to have their questions aired for all to hear."

That resulted in lots of nervous "Who is that jerk in the suit?" looks on the faces of the EDP Team, and lots more "yeahs" from the crowd.

The gentleman in the crowd asked his question, and the PR person answered it. Then she attempted to thank everyone, with the sort of body language one uses when one is wrapping up. That’s when O’Neil jumped in again.

“I have a few questions."

Gentleman in the crowd, to PR lady: "Give him the mic so we can all hear." The PR lady, looking like she had acid indigestion, handed O’Neil the microphone, and he proceeded to very politely ask the questions. (The questions are listed at the end of this post.)

After O’Neil’s second question, one member of EDP Team said, "OK Chris, it's clear that you know the rules but we are not here to take testimony."

O’Neil looked at her sternly and said: "Ma'am, I represent a statewide group and thousands of people who have concerns about this project. I drove 300 miles to ask their questions so that you wouldn't have a thousand people here. You came to Maine proposing the biggest wind project in the northeast and it is serious business. Beginning tonight, you are no longer just delivering doughnuts to the snowmobile club. The application process effectively starts here, and we have questions and answers that will be part of the record. I assume you want to be a good neighbor. Do not be dismissive and do not treat us with hostility. You're in Maine and the game is on. Now play ball."

O’Neil proceeded with his questions. The EDP team did not answer any of the questions, although they tried and fumbled on a couple. When O’Neil finished he politely thanked the PR person and handed the microphone back to her. Then several other attendees asked questions.

O’Neil lingered after the formal conclusion of the session and connected with many of the local folks who will necessarily be the local opposition group. He handed out business cards and encouraged them to organize, offering to facilitate if necessary. EDP was clearly not happy that Friends of Maine’s Mountains crashed their party, but O’Neil did his job. For the record, here are the questions he asked:

November 12, 2014

Questions for Applicant - Number Nine Wind Project

1. Maine DEP Rule Chapter 2, Section 13 dictates the requirements for tonight’s Public Information Meeting: At the meeting, the applicant or its designee shall present a summary of the project; provide clear and concise written information that details the expected environmental impacts of the project and lists the state, local and federal licenses necessary for the project; and provide adequate opportunity for public questions and responses from the applicant. 

I thank you for the opportunity to ask a few questions, and in the interest of time, I would be pleased to allow you to defer responses to any question that might not be readily answered this evening. Will EDP provide written replies for the record if any question tonight remains unanswered?

2. Maine DEP Rule Chapter 2, Section 13 further dictates: The applicant must submit a signed certification attesting that a public informational meeting was noticed and held in accordance with this section. The submission must include an estimate of the number of attendees and a narrative responsive to any significant issues relevant to the licensing criteria that are raised at the meeting. The certification must be submitted with any application that requires a pre-application meeting pursuant to section 10(B) of this rule.

To the extent that you must submit sworn certification to DEP with your application, and to the extent one or more of my questions might be technical or misinterpreted, I request that you share your draft certification and narrative prior to your submission, so that we can be on the same page before it goes into the record. Will EDP agree to such collaboration?

 3. According to the NREL wind resource map, the proposed project area has poor to marginal wind quality. The Stetson and Stetson II wind projects 50 miles south are on similarly low hills with weak wind resources.  The Stetsons in 2012 achieved capacity factors of 21.4% and 18.4% respectively, but they were the beneficiaries of considerable government grant funding.  Maine people want assurance that your LLC has a sustainable business plan, including full decommissioning of a potential massive blight, in the event of failure, abandonment, or insolvency. DEP now requires full pre-funding of decommissioning, but the applicant is allowed to estimate the cost, which is always ridiculously low.  Are you willing to bond and guaranty full decommissioning at the actual eventual cost?

4. You have secured leases for +50,000 acres.  So that the public will benefit from disclosure as the public participation process moves forward, can you please tell us now who are the lessors and what are their various subsidiaries and affiliated entities?

5. An aggrieved party in Connecticut has a pending law suit against the Connecticut department that ordered your controversial Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The State has filed a motion to dismiss. If the motion is denied, the court could take considerable time before we know the outcome of the litigation. Given the tenuous status of the Production Tax Credit, and given the increased viability of large-scale hydro and New York wind to satisfy state mandates, thereby diminishing the likelihood of a lucrative PPA, and given the probability that regional natural gas deficiencies will soon be fixed, what assurances will you give Maine that this project is a viable business concern, discussing each of the above factors.

6. Transmission and generator lead lines for wind projects are expensive. The proposed project is separated from the ISO-New England by a considerable transmission gap, which is exacerbated by the Orrington bottleneck.  Emera Maine and other utilities have devoted considerable resources to maintaining regional reliability at minimal cost to ratepayers. According to an Emera Maine report dated 12-18-13, Emera Maine might be required to purchase that portion of the lead line necessary to connect to ISO-NE, with socialization implications.  Please explain all the implications for ratepayers in the various systems, based on all the possible T&D configurations that might occur relating to this wind project.

7. Last year a representative of your company named Jeff Bishop testified before the Maine legislature on LD 1750, a bill brought by the wind lobby. Mr. Bishop explained

EDP’s support for the bill because it “clarifies that wind developers do not have to prove the energy and emissions benefits of their project…”  He further said “this seems appropriate.”   As Mainers have become increasingly educated on wind energy’s true impacts & benefits, we have come to know that wind energy’s “energy and emissions” benefits are theoretical at best, and in many cases are fictional. Given that we are being asked to absorb massive environmental and economic impacts from this sprawling and costly project, including encroachment on “forever wild” Baxter State Park, will you please be a good neighbor and delineate said benefits for us, subject to expert review and cross examination during the permitting process?

8. The Connecticut Legislature has repeatedly upheld their law essentially forbidding industrial wind energy in the Nutmeg State.  Congratulations to you in winning the still disputed (see #5) competition for Connecticut Renewable PPAs, topping a field of 47 bidders, many of which were in Connecticut. DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty awarded EDP for 250 megawatts of capacity, and a CT solar firm for 20 Megawatts of capacity.  Given that Connecticut lawmakers refuse to site wind complexes in their own state, and given the sacrifices Mainers will be asked to make, would EDP support a Friends of Maine’s Mountains initiative that seeks Connecticut land for the relocation of Maine’s nuclear waste to Connecticut?

9. If you took that question as somewhat facetious, this one is not.  We have had too many bad experiences with wind developers and we do not trust them. How many EDP employees were ever employees of Enron or its affiliates and subsidiaries?  Please list all, and their current positions at EDP.

10. For about a year EDP has stationed a pair of young public relations staffers indowntown Presque Isle.  For several years EDP and the former Horizon have conducted PR activities in the area. Surely your activity is more than buying coffee and donuts for the snowmobile club. Please save Maine taxpayers the expense of Freedom of InformationAccess compliance, and provide for the record all correspondence with public officialsregarding the project.

11. Roughly 10,000 square miles of Northern Maine have been designated as lynx critical habitat by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. What has been done to determine that a sprawling project involving extensive blasting and clear-cutting will not disturb this endangered species and comply with the federal Endangered Species Act?

12. Stakeholders in Aroostook are now grappling with several serious issues in the MEPCO-Emera-NB Power-Van Buren-Houlton-NMISA region. The system here has serious issues, from reliability to potential base load shortages.  We have two biomass plants with 70 megawatts of base load capacity.  Those ostensibly could provide load following to balance the zero capacity generation that you propose, which is unlikely to perform more than 15 minutes per hour on average. Those dispatchable biomass generators with firm capacity will certainly be harmed by grid disruption as a direct result of your project, and they will need to find higher revenues through rates and capacity payments, or they may very well go under, putting hundreds of local people out of work, including forest products professionals who provide some $40 million worth of fuel annually.  Then Aroostook will need to get its base load and load following power elsewhere, perhaps from oil plants in New Brunswick.  In short, irrespective of whether it is useful or necessary, your project could cause calamity.

12A. When you submit your tangible benefits/community benefit package in your application next month, will you provide a true “net” benefits assessment, deducting the negative impacts, including those named above, or will you merely report half the equation, which is to count the money that you sprinkle around the County?

12B. Given the pending negative impacts on system reliability and ratepayers, will you  agree to an additional criterion in your permit process:  a PUC Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity?

Thank you for your apparent willingness to be a good neighbor. Your proposal has lots of people concerned, so your ability to adequately answer our questions here will go a long way in determining that EDP and the project will be good for us.  We look forward to your replies.