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The Maine Energy Office announced Friday that electricity rates in Maine as compared to the national average are much higher than other states. The data, provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, indicates that Maine rates are improving. However, Maine is still 24 percent above the US average.
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The euphemisms of pro-wind developers at a LURC hearing to add Kossuth Township to the expedited wind development zone highlight last fall offered a picture of disturbing political and financial alliances that scar Maine landscapes.
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Doug Rooks is correct about at least one thing (May 9). There is a growing backlash to industrial-scale wind turbines on Maine's mountains. People who care about Maine's present and future are refusing to roll over for the short-term interests of the wind industry and its largely unfounded claims.
The millions of people who live south of Maine in the region from Boston to New York create huge demands for electricity.
But because supplies are so limited, they have the highest power costs in America. ...Existing power lines running from central Maine to the south can't carry any greater peak load, either from within Maine or from our Canadian neighbors.
As one economist put it, Maine is sandwiched between 6-cent power to our north and a 10-cent market to our south. That price gap is creating pressure to build a new $1 billion transmission line to move electricity from northern generators to southern customers.
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With the addition of expensive wind, and even more expensive off-shore wind, and the cost of the new power line, Maine people cannot look forward to lower rates. Yet we will be in economic competition with Vermont and other states. Our future should be with hydro and natural gas, not wind power.
But the saddest thing to me is the way the public has been discouraged from participation.
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The [Maine] RPS law limits the amount of energy we can use from renewable sources, such as hydropower, solar, tidal, biomass and geothermal. But in 2009 legislators lifted the cap for wind power, which is expensive to build and produces a minimal amount of our electricity.
In 2011, we got only 4.5 percent of our electricity from wind. While it produces only a fraction of energy, it is some of the most expensive electricity we buy.
The former vice president, now in his second career as a climate Cassandra, has spent the past few weeks pushing the notion that the United States can be "repowered" -- that all its electricity needs can be met without producing greenhouse gases. He says it can be done within a decade. ...The problem is that, despite the current boom in green power, renewable sources such as the sun and the wind still provide just a tiny fraction of the U.S. electricity supply. The rest is mainly dirty stuff: coal, gas, oil. To replace one with the other over the course of a decade, energy experts say, would make the Manhattan Project look like a science-fair volcano.
If climate change is the Big One, let's start with energy policy. We must do more to support renewable energy, and Scotland is well placed to lead the way, for example, with marine technologies. But the newly elected Executive must also make sure that renewable energy developments avoid the most sensitive locations, such as the Lewis peatlands, whose future is threatened by a huge wind farm right in the middle of an area safeguarded under European law for its wildlife.
Renewable developments that cause irreparable damage to such precious places make no sense. We can make the shift to greener energy, and create jobs, without sacrificing such places.
The state's utilities, which are funded by ratepayers, are already seeking alternative energy sources because it's good business.
The Pacific Northwest, with it's clean, inexpensive electric power created by the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, is the envy of the nation.
Why then should it be necessary to approve Initiative 937, which mandates that the larger utilities in Washington state obtain 15 percent of their power from other clean, renewable sources?
It's not. This state is already ahead of the nation.
The Maine Public Utility Commission's analysis showed that the first two years of the increased renewable energy mandate added $7 million to Maine ratepayer's electric bills.
Rather than continue the automatic increases to the renewable energy source mandate, we think there is a better approach by allowing consumer choice while still supporting renewable energy development.
Massachusetts has an ambitious goal for renewable-energy development but no realistic plan or guidelines to reach it. The result is a free-for-all with the state lavishing money on wind-power development in the Berkshires, investors and other states benefiting from the largess, and Berkshire towns and residents left in the dark as to the real consequences for our community, our economy, and our beautiful mountains.
Editor's Note: Eleanor Tillinghast is head of Green Berkshires, Inc., an environmental
group based in western Massachusetts.
All too often I hear an enthusiastic statement that wind generators will replace the power plant and become the singular source of our energy supply. Despite what the infrequent visitor to western Kansas may think, the wind does not always blow. Consumers want to turn on the television or do the wash at any time, illustrating that the demand for electricity is present even when the wind is not blowing.
Some people perversely claim to like the appearance of the turbines. That reflects the rise of a kind of anti-aesthetic, fostered by the urbanisation of society, brutalist architecture and the excesses of modern art. Anyone who prefers Lewis, or Perthshire, or the Borders covered with turbines has lost that spiritual connection with his native landscape that is the heritage of the true Scot. This vandalism must be halted or the consequences will be total degradation of our countryside. Look thy last on all things beautiful...
Among too many political leaders, the argument that carbon-free energy is as much — or more — about “green jobs” as it is about addressing global warming has turned from a politically expedient talking point into an economically dubious article of faith. Confusing the goals of clean energy leads politicians to saddle their states with expensive policies, such as Mr. O’Malley’s green-power protectionism, instead of seeking to secure the best deal for electricity consumers and the environment.
Those customers aren't the only ones who are being fleeced. Even at high premiums the entire wind industry would be blown away by conventional power sources if not for huge taxpayer subsidies. According to a 2008 Energy Information Agency (EIA) report, the average 2007 subsidy per megawatt hour for wind and solar was about $24, compared with an average $1.65 for all others.
Normally, I don't write about problems I encounter in getting information from government because I feel it's too "inside baseball" for readers.
I'm making an exception because I think this incident illustrates the problems besieged opponents of industrial wind turbines living in communities across Ontario are encountering in getting straight answers from their own government.
This, as Premier Dalton McGuinty appears hell-bent on erecting these giant steel structures, up to 40-storeys high, as fast as he can.
The last time McGuinty was this juiced we got ... eHealth.
Mr. McGuinty warned last month that he won't tolerate NIMBYism when it comes to wind farms unless objections are based on safety issues and environmental standards. This doesn't solve anything, however, as a new report yesterday by Environment Commissioner Gord Miller illustrated.
The main point of the report is that the 183 species facing extinction or endangerment could be further threatened if the government doesn't bolster its new Endangered Species Act.
The centerpiece of the McGuinty agenda was his controversial green energy policy.
The idea here had three parts. First, electricity consumers would subsidize new forms of power generation, such as wind power, through their hydro bills. Coal would be phased out as a source of electricity generation and replaced by natural gas.
Today, the wind power generated in Ontario is both expensive and useless. The province actually pays hundreds of millions of dollars to other jurisdictions to take surplus power off its hands. Energy-intensive companies are leaving because their hydro bills are too high. And taxpayers are stuck with 20-year contracts that will add billions to their hydro bills (and/or the provincial deficit).
It took legislators decades to establish agencies and laws to protect the environment, and Gov. O'Malley one legislative session to strip Allegany and Garrett counties of these protections.
The 2008 Fast-Track legislation denies review and restrictions for wind turbine development by the Department of Environment, Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland Energy Administration and the Department of Natural Resources, and of obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Public Service Commission (PSC). All other counties in Maryland have these agencies protecting them.