Unsustainable costs of useless wind power in Maine

The wind in Maine’s mountains blows enough only to keep a wind turbine operating about 25% of the time. And yet as this article by Tux Turkel makes clear, it will take hundreds of millions, probably billions, to raze enough of Maine’s wild places and build the snarl of transmission lines that this totally unreliable power source demands. That's IN ADDITION TO the $1 billion plus we've already spent here in Maine to upgrade transmission lines for wind developers!

Maine people will pay for the redundant generation and the unnecessary transmission build-up, but the electricity will be shipped to the south.

While paying for wasteful infrastructure is bad enough, we will pay extra for the irreversible impact on Maine’s tourism industry. We have been investing heavily to attract visitors to the state, but our policy makers have greased the skids for developers who propose to ruin the very natural beauty that attracts visitors here in the first place. All to accommodate a power source that does no good here in Maine.

Do you remember the last time your electricity bill went down? By subsidizing wind developers, you rest assured it will only go up. Read the article in the Press Herald, and ask yourself if this makes any sense.

Maine citizens are irritating wind speculators

WCSH-TV in Portland and WLBZ-TV in Bangor, sister stations that have the largest media audience in Maine, aired a story a few days ago about petitions that have been submitted to the state’s Land Use Planning Commission by the Moosehead Region Futures Committee. Long story short, the petitions are a critical step in restoring land use rights and protections that were stripped from a tiny percentage of Maine people when Governor John Baldacci signed the Wind Energy Act into law in 2008.

Jeremy Paine, the ever-present lobbyist who is paid by the wind industry to ladle out PR mumbo jumbo, was not happy, characterizing those who signed the petitions as “people who are trying to drive off investment.”

That is EXACTLY what we are trying to do, and we hope it works. Because “investment” that depends so heavily on taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies, that produces no real benefits to the people of Maine, that threatens the state’s economy --- is investment that SHOULD be driven off, with a vengeance.

We are particularly pleased by this telling story excerpt on the TV stations’ web sites: “Opponents to the petition, including the Maine Renewable Energy Association, a non-profit trade association supporting renewable energy, says it’s merely a stall tactic that will create uncertainty and drive away developers.”

Clearly, wind opponents are making an impact, and getting under the industry's skin. This petition process might be one of the most effective tactics to date in the long fight to keep giant wind turbines from ruining Maine’s most pristine mountains and wild areas.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to the Moosehead Region Futures Committee, as well as dozens of other individuals all over rural Maine for their hard work gathering signatures.  Of course it would be remiss not to thank the hundreds of citizens who convinced the Maine Legislature to make the petition process possible.

If you’d like to learn more about the petition process and get personally involved, a good place to start is “Wind energy to suffer another blow in Maine,” a blog post Friends of Maine’s Mountains published in late December. Let’s keep the pressure on!

This news was released in Hawaii today

Hawaii wind player gets comeuppance in Maine

(Augusta, Maine) First Wind, the industrial wind developer whose projects in Hawaii have sparked controversy, has suffered two major setbacks recently in Maine.

Last week the Maine Board of Environmental Protection voted 4-1 to deny First Wind’s appeal of a decision by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to reject the company’s proposal for a 16-turbine, 48 megawatt industrial wind project in a remote area of the state. That effectively kills the project, a major loss for First Wind, with the company’s last and only recourse now being to sue one or both agencies in the state’s supreme court.

Earlier this year Maine’s supreme court struck a major blow to First Wind when it overturned regulators’ approval of a financing arrangement between the company and Emera, an electric utility company based in Nova Scotia. The decision threatens another First Wind project in the state, and possibly the company’s overall financial stability.

In Hawaii, First Wind operates four industrial wind projects, Kahuku Wind, Kawailoa Wind, Kaheawa Wind I and Kaheawa Wind II. The company also has an office on Maui. First Wind’s projects in Hawaii have been controversial, highlighted by fires at the Kahuku facility on Oahu’s North Shore in 2011 and 2012, causing safety and pollution concerns. The National Wind Watch, an anti-wind group, lists two anti-wind groups in the state of Hawaii, I Aloha Molokai and Makani Lanai.

Chris O’Neil, a spokesperson for the anti-wind group Friends of Maine’s Mountains, said the two losses for First Wind are significant, because the company can no longer count on the “blind faith” of the state’s legislature and regulatory agencies, as they had previously been able to.

“Folks here are catching on to the way First Wind does business, and they don’t like it,” O’Neil said. “They play inside baseball, fertilizing the landscape with a lot of sponsorships and political contributions. It could be that this heavy-handed business model is starting to backfire.”

O’Neil said Maine has a virulent and growing anti-wind community, and he pointed to a 2010 news article about Kurt Adams, First Wind’s executive vice president and chief development officer, as one of the reasons for the growing backlash.

According to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, Adams once worked for Maine’s governor, in charge of making sure companies like First Wind followed the state’s rules and regulations. “While he was Maine’s chief utilities regulator,” reporter Naomi Schalit wrote, “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."

In the past several months, Adams has been on the “host committee” of several fundraisers for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democratic candidate for Maine governor and supporter of industrial wind. Maine’s current governor, Paul LePage, is not as chummy with the industry, which relies heavily on ratepayer and taxpayer subsidies.

O’Neil said educating Maine people about the political muscle of wind industrialists has been a slow process, but organizations like Friends of Maine’s Mountains are now having much more success winning converts to the anti-wind cause in that state.

“It’s ironic, but First Wind’s approach has made it easier for us to reach people. Their strong-arm tactics and manipulation of the political process attract attention. That makes it easier for us to point out that wind turbines do not make economic sense in Maine.”

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.

On The Web:

  1.   "PUC chairman took equity stake in wind company"
  2.  First Wind
  3. Friends of Maine's Mountains
  4. Emera
  5. "Citizen board upholds Maine DEP's rejection of Bowers Mountain wind farm permit"

 

Bowers Wind LOSS foreshadowed by poll media ignored

(Portland, Maine) The anti-wind group Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM) said today that the decision by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) to deny First Wind’s Bowers Wind industrial wind project came as no surprise.

“The answer was blowing in the wind, but I don’t think reporters have zeroed in yet,” said Chris O’Neil, an FMM spokesperson. “The more people learn, the less they like industrial wind.”

The BEP voted 4-1 today to affirm its rejection of the Bowers Wind project, a 16-turbine, 48 megawatt industrial wind factory proposed for Carroll Plantation and Kossuth, Maine. O’Neil said an anti-wind activist who attended the meeting reported that, “It was clear that the BEP was having none of the last minute attempt by First Wind attorney Juliet Brown to have the decision to deny remanded, thus enabling First Wind to go forward with a scaled back project. After dealing with that, the Board wasted little time in approving the draft order that upholds the DEP’s denial of project.”

The activist reported to O’Neil that he did not notice any reporters in the room.

O’Neil said FMM released poll results to the media just over two weeks ago, but no Maine newspaper, radio station or television station reported on the poll results.

In its semi-annual tracking poll, Critical Insights of Portland asked Maine people three questions about wind energy. The company completed 601 telephone interviews (including cell phones) with randomly selected voters across the state between April 16th and April 24th, 2014. Poll results (at this link) indicate that support for building industrial wind turbines declines appreciably when respondents learn that:

  • Building industrial wind turbines does not significantly reduce Maine’s reliance on nuclear energy, coal or oil;
  • Building industrial wind turbines in Maine yields only a negligible reduction in carbon dioxide emissions;
  • Maine may not experience positive benefits from the proliferation of industrial wind turbines on the state’s mountains.

“I know the media have limited resources, and I certainly sympathize. But as Mainers do their homework the state is turning into a hotbed of opposition. A movement is afoot,” O’Neil said.

Maine poll exposes softness in wind energy support

(Portland, Maine) Answers to questions asked recently by an independent, nonpartisan polling firm indicate that support for building industrial wind turbines in Maine is not as strong as wind power cheerleaders have led policy makers and the public to believe.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM), a group that opposes industrial wind turbine projects, commissioned Critical Insights of Portland, Maine to ask three questions about wind energy in its semi-annual Tracking Poll. The company completed 601 telephone interviews (including cell phones) with randomly selected voters across the state between April 16th and April 24th, 2014. CLICK HERE for a PDF of the results, which indicate that support for building industrial wind turbines declines appreciably when respondents learn that:

  • Building industrial wind turbines does not significantly reduce Maine’s reliance on nuclear energy, coal or oil;
  • Building industrial wind turbines in Maine yields only a negligible reduction in carbon dioxide emissions;
  • Maine may not experience positive benefits from the proliferation of industrial wind turbines on the state’s mountains.

(Click HERE for PDF of supporting information, and click HERE for PDF of Maine generation sources.)

Chris O’Neil, spokesperson for Friends of Maine’s Mountains, said the results raise questions about the extremely positive approval numbers that wind developers routinely cite when they attempt to justify steep taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies.

“For years wind developers have peddled the general benefits of wind energy, and they have a lot of financial resources behind them that we’ll never match,” O’Neil said. “People certainly want to believe it’s all good. But impacts to Maine exceed the benefits, and these poll results point out weak support for industrial wind when that shortfall is understood. Mainers expect tangible benefits for the enormous investment the government is forcing taxpayers and ratepayers to make in wind energy.”

O’Neil noted that almost 80% of respondents reported that they’re less likely to support building industrial wind turbines “if the development will not positively impact Maine.”

O’Neil said skepticism about wind energy is increasing, and as a result Maine policy makers are starting to ask much tougher questions about the benefits of industrial wind turbines in sensitive mountain areas. He pointed to several anti-wind bills in the last Legislative session that fared well, including legislation that would have eliminated the state’s “megawatt goals” and replaced them with a policy objective of demonstrated and “tangible” benefits.

“Now that policy makers have driven a new car off the lot, they’re finally kicking the tires and looking underneath the hood. Expect to see much tougher scrutiny of proposed wind projects in the future,” O’Neil said.

For more information about Friends of Maine’s Mountains, visit www.FriendsOfMainesMountains.org. For more information about Critical Insights, visit www.CriticalInsights.com.

Industrial wind has Achilles’ Heel in Maine

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      Photo by Gregory Rec, Maine Sunday Telegram, 2010. First Wind’s Stetson wind farm, in Washington County near Danforth, is among the turbine projects in New England that sometimes can’t send their power into the grid because local transmission lines are too weak.

Photo by Gregory Rec, Maine Sunday Telegram, 2010. First Wind’s Stetson wind farm, in Washington County near Danforth, is among the turbine projects in New England that sometimes can’t send their power into the grid because local transmission lines are too weak.

“Inadequate transmission lines mean some power has to be kept off the grid. And ratepayers will like bear the cost of future upgrades.” (Portland Press Herald, August 4, 2013)

Every wind energy “supporter” should read THIS ARTICLE. Industrial wind projects will cause the cost of electricity to rise in this state. When this becomes widely understood by Maine people, count on it: popular support for building industrial wind factories on the top of Maine’s mountains will plummet. People think wind is “free.” It’s not. Plus, it does nothing to get Maine off fossil fuels (See 20 Key Facts), and the reduction of New England CO2 emissions that results from building wind turbines in Maine’s scenic wilderness areas is miniscule.

READ 'EM AND WEEP

“Wind developers want ratepayers to pick up a larger share of the upgrade costs, and they have a recent ruling by federal utility regulators on their side. To the extent that New England policy makers decide in the coming years that more renewable energy benefits the region, customers will help pay for new transmission lines.”

CLICK THIS LINK to read full article, “Inadequate transmission lines keeping some Maine wind power off the grid,” by Tux Turkel, Portland Press Herald, August 13, 2013.

BREAKING NEWS: major setback to industrial wind project

(Augusta, Maine) The Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) held a meeting today in Augusta, Maine to review the denial First Wind's Bowers Wind Project by the Maine Department of Environmenal Protection (DEP). After a long day of testimony and deliberation, the BEP voted 4-1 to move closer to a "likely rejection" of the Bowers Wind Project. We are happy to report an excellent showing by our friends and allies. CLICK ON THE VIDEO for a quick pan, revealing a room JAMMED with industrial wind foes. Here's a good article by the BANGOR DAILY NEWS.

Industrial wind biting their fingernails in Maine

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 7.40.06 PM.png

Industrial wind speculators, especially First Wind, will be on edge tomorrow because they’ll be trying to get the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) to reverse the DEP’s denial of the Bowers Wind Project. The BEP holding a public meeting tomorrow, Thursday, May 1, at the Augusta Civic Center, 9:00 AM.

First Wind will be on edge because Maine people are finally catching on: industrial wind is a high-cost, low-benefit waste. More than that, Mainers are also starting to understand how companies like First Wind --- hoping to pocket tax and ratepayer subsidies --- have manipulated the political system, including agencies like the BEP. Resentment about that is starting to filter up from the grassroots through the political food chain, to elected officials and regulators. So this, on the eve of tomorrow’s important meeting, is an excellent point in time to review three outstanding articles by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. The articles are an ugly but necessary glimpse at the “inside game” industrial wind developers like First Wind have been playing. Three excerpts and links follow:

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.

Maine wind foes, guess what?

There's more than one way to skin a cat, and this is one of the best --- simply prevent the wind speculators from getting their hands on the land. As many of you already know, there was exciting news Sunday from Keep It Grand, "A Citizens Organization to Protect East Grand Lake." Our hearty congratulations to everyone involved, and you can find out more about Keep It Grand AT THIS LINK. If you haven't seen it yet, here's the text of their e-mail BULLETIN they sent out on Monday:

***********

April 28, 2014

Dear Members,

Keep It Grand is pleased to announce that Flagstaff Mountain and Greenland Ridge have been purchased by David and Lynette Snow, Jr. of Darien, CT from Haynes Timberlands.

The transfer of ownership constitutes an abrupt and welcome change of course for the highlands overlooking East Grand Lake, which have been targeted for a major industrial wind power grid. Under the new ownership, wind turbines will no longer threaten the spectacular beauty of this border lake, shared by neighbors from Maine and New Brunswick.

The 5,315-acre tract lies wholly within the town of Danforth, and incorporates about 5.3 miles of ridgeline from north to south. All of Greenland Ridge and 1,050-foot-high Flagstaff Mountain, the focus of an extensive field of wind towers and turbines proposed by developer Cianbro, Inc. and Haynes Timberlands, is included in the parcel. The tract also includes 4,400 feet of frontage along East Grand Lake and approximately 15,000 feet of frontage on Sucker Lake.

“This is a magnificent parcel of land,” said KIG president Wes Lord. “Its high elevation and dramatic views over East Grand Lake make it special. And in the same token, the special character of East Grand depends on the natural integrity of this unspoiled range. Folks along the lake can take a deep breath of relief.”

The Snow family first came to East Grand Lake in 1905, when William and Elinor Snow (David’s great grandparents) purchased half of Manley Island. Since that time, generations have summered on the lake and have gained a deep affection for the area. The Snows presently spend summers at their family cottage in Forest City.

“Our intent is to maintain the parcel as working timberland, in order to preserve local jobs reliant on the flow of wood and fiber from the forest,” said David Snow recently. “Those jobs are important to local communities here. This tract has been aggressively harvested, and we would like to manage it in a way that is more sustainable. We will secure professional forestry counsel to guide decisions on the land.”

The Snows also plan to allow outdoor recreation such as hunting and snowmobiling. “There is significant game habitat on this parcel, and Maine people are accustomed to the privilege of open lands. So long as the land is respected, we hope to keep it open for public low-intensity recreation.”

Haynes Timberlands is owned by Malcolm and Barbara French of Enfield, Maine. Their ownership tenure is terminated as of April 28, 2014. Plans are in place to remove the two meteorological towers by July 31, 2014.

“Folks around the lake owe much gratitude to KIG Board Member David Snow, who has stepped forward to rescue those values we all cherish,” added Lord. “Thank you!”

Sincerely,

The Keep It Grand Board

BULLETIN for Industrial Wind Foes!

Wind industrialists are hoping we don't show up this week. They want to put more millions, generated from our tax subsidies and higher electricity bills, into their pocket.

Please watch this video to find out why Thursday, May 1 is so important! First Wind wants to reverse the DEP’s denial of the Bowers Wind Project. Watch the video to understand full context. The Board of Environmental Protection is holding a public meeting on this Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center, 9:00 AM. We need you there!

VERY IMPORTANT BULLETIN FOR ALL INDUSTRIAL WIND FOES IN MAINE!

VERY IMPORTANT BULLETIN FOR ALL INDUSTRIAL WIND FOES IN MAINE!

Maine keeps spinning an extravagant wind gamble

CLICK IMAGE FOR VIDEO

CLICK IMAGE FOR VIDEO

Speaking of spin, that’s exactly what the industrial wind barons do when they are pulling the wool over our eyes about the scarce tangible benefits of this unnecessary development. (Click on this link for our ECONOMIC VIDEO MESSAGE of the day.)

The wind itself may be free, but the turbines, the transmission lines, the higher electricity rates that you will pay, and the tax subsidies that you have to keep shelling out are astronomically expensive compared to other fuel sources like natural gas, which is plentiful. The costs of industrial wind turbines far outweigh the benefits. As long as Maine keeps propping up a technology that can’t stand on its own, plan on paying much more than necessary for your energy.

Dear Maine: Get ready for HUGE SPIKES in your electric bill

If you like to pay steep increases in your light bill, then you’re probably a strong supporter of blowing up Maine’s mountain tops to build more industrial wind turbines. WATCH THIS VIDEO to find out what we mean.

CLICK THE IMAGE for video.

CLICK THE IMAGE for video.

Remember, folks, wind turbines only work about 25% of the time at best. Plus, if you build industrial turbines on mountain tops where there is no existing infrastructure, then you ALSO have to build the transmission lines all across the state. The only thing that makes this scheme work is taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies. That’s right, YOU pay the freight, while the developers pocket millions and ruin Maine’s scenic wilderness areas. That’s why Central Maine Power raised its rates by almost 20% recently.

You can expect more increases into the future, unless the Maine Legislature changes course. During this Legislative session they refused to modify Maine’s wind goals. So if you like paying drastically higher bills, pat your state legislator on the back. If you think wind energy should LOWER your light bill, then tell your state legislator to make some changes --- fast.

WATCH OUR VIDEO and read this article in Forbes, “Wind Industry Study: Electricity Prices Skyrocketing In Largest Wind Power States.”

FMM probes --- is First Wind stiffing Mainers?

CLICK ON IMAGE for video report.

CLICK ON IMAGE for video report.

(Portland, Maine) The voice of wind opposition in Maine, Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM), has been receiving reports that workers associated with First Wind’s industrial wind project in Oakfield may not be getting paid. In a YouTube VIDEO published today, the group issued a call to its network, asking anyone having more information about possible nonpayment to report it to the anti-wind group.

(WATCH: VIDEO LINK)

“We want to be on top of this information, because we’re bird-dogging it,” said Chris O’Neil, FMM spokesperson. “If they’re stiffing loggers and skidder drivers up there, we want to know.”

O’Neil said a recent decision by Maine’s supreme court could doom First Wind’s future in Maine, because the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has asked First Wind if it now has enough funding to finish four projects in the state worth $1 billion (See Portland Press Herald, “Maine DEP asks First Wind to re-prove its financial capacity,” 4/9/14). He said FMM will immediately forward any evidence of the company’s financial hardships to top officials at the DEP. To contact Friends of Maine’s Mountains, write to: MaineMountainFriends@gmail.com.

What will take to stop wind turbines in Maine?

Frankly, it’s going to take resources. Financial resources if possible, but especially time resources, human resources and communications resources. Friends of Maine’s Mountains is very pleased to introduce a significant upgrade to our website, a first of many steps as we continue to turn up the heat on the industrial wind lobby. Here’s a VERY SHORT VIDEO WELCOME, and we invite you to visit us often as momentum increases. As wind foes pool our limited resources and continue to collaborate across a broad spectrum of interests, our effectiveness will continue to improve!

CLICK ON THE IMAGE to view a quick welcome video.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE to view a quick welcome video.