A lot. And not much.
The Massachusetts RFP was
awarded to the Northern Pass, a High Voltage Direct Current Transmission Line that would provide clean, reliable, dispatchable power. Mainers were thrilled to learn that Massachusetts selected the good stuff instead of a passel of feckless wind projects in Maine's most precious places.
But then Northern Pass hit a snag when the permitting authority in New Hampshire denied a license for the game-changing transmission line.
Suddenly, the thousands of Maine wind turbines that had bid in the RFP were breathing new life.
Will the Massachusetts selection committee jettison Northern Pass, or will they stick it out through a potentially long appeal process? There are alternatives on the table. Since Massachusetts seems intent on importing -- rather than generating its own -- clean energy, Mainers are on guard. CMP's New England Clean Energy Connect is a strong contender to replace Northern Pass.
FMM's first priority is to see Massachusetts host its own generation facilities. But since that is unlikely, and because Maine is intricately connected to Massachusetts via the ISO-New England grid, FMM has been advocating for clean and dispatchable power that can replace/displace the thousands of megawatts of power that is going off-line. No amount of wind turbines despoiling Maine's Quality of Place can fill the void that New England faces.
FMM is monitoring the situation and will keep you informed.
Maine puts the brakes on Big Wind
Frustrated with the Legislature's years of inaction on reforming the ludicrous Wind Act, and fearing the thousands of turbines bid into the Massachusetts FRP, Governor Paul LePage issued a de facto moratorium on new wind projects. He also ordered a study commission that will examine Big Wind's negative impacts on Maine's brand and tourism. A desired outcome is a fresh look, supported by ten years of data and unfortunate experience, at the omissions and false presumptions of the 2007 Wind Task Force.
FMM Has Been Sounding the Alarm about
Big Wind's pending threats. While the Wind Act blithely called for 2000 megawatts of installed wind capacity by 2015, Mainers have succeeded in subduing the assault. Today only 900 megawatts is online, and on average, the grid only gets less than 300 megawatts of power from that multi billion dollar "investment." The 2017 figures say that wind contributed only 3.2 percent of New England's electricity, despite the exorbitant costs. Over a billion dollars has been spent on Maine wind projects. Billions more have been spent on the transmission lines that make it all somewhat possible. And New England ratepayers are now spending billions every year to keep dirty old oil and coal plants afloat and burning fuel for the days and hours when the wind fails to blow. This is unsustainable.
Maine Wind Projects
in 2017 accounted for almost 20 percent of all Maine electricity generation. On the surface this sounds impressive. But Maine has stopped being a net exporter of electricity and is now a net importer. Too often, those necessary imports (when the wind isn't blowing) rely on dirty oil and coal from New Brunswick. This is backwards energy policy, and a clear indicator that Maine has reached its limit, both environmentally and economically. The fabled Maine Quality of Place cannot endure any more industrial wind projects, and the Maine economy cannot endure the cost.
The Maine Legislature
continues to do nothing to stop the greatest threat in history on the Maine Brand. The 2008 Wind Act passed unanimously with no debate or scrutiny, for reasons that made no sense, environmentally or economically. The same Maine legislature that presumed it could deploy wind energy to mitigate climate change recently passed a law (unanimously) to allow 75 mPH speeds on the Interstate 95 highways. This happened unwittingly despite the fact that Maine CO2 emissions from transportation are 6 times higher than CO2 emissions from electricity!
Ten years later we know what a colossal mistake the Wind Act was, but Big Wind clutches onto its golden ring with understandable zeal, and with lobbying prowess. As we enter the period when all 186 legislative seats are up for election, as well as the governor's seat, FMM is redoubling its efforts to educate policymakers about the differences between fact and fantasy.
The state is forming a "commission" that will study the long overdue balancing of Big Wind's impacts and benefits. The governor is concerned about "tourism" but it is more than tourism. The very Maine brand that is so integral to our economy is at stake if we allow southern New England to convert us into a tragic power plantation with no climate or economic benefits. Hundreds of businesses rely on the integrity of the Maine brand, and they buy and sell it daily. To defile that brand for an unnecessary and ineffective Wind Lobby is utter folly.
Please stay tuned as the legislative session turns into the home stretch, and as politicians hit the streets looking for votes. FMM will continue to remind Maine about wind energy's high impacts and low benefits.