General and Maine
When I entered the campaign to save Maine's iconic mountains from development, I had a huge dread: the fear of being seen as a "NIMBY" (Not in my backyard).
I didn't want to be perceived as someone who was not interested in current events unless they directly affected me. I saw the acronym NIMBY as a slur, and no one likes to be insulted.
Several months have passed since I entered the fray. My education has been equivalent to the school of hard knocks. Trial by wind.
Turkel reports that Maine lawmakers have set a goal of installing 2,000 megawatts of wind power by 2015.
He then quotes a local financial analyst who points out that, "Ratepayers are going to pay for all the government mandates," and "The market isn't driving this. The government is driving this."
The article suggests 2,000 megawatts of power will cost $4 billion.
Much has been written lately about harnessing the wind resources of Maine.
Influential stakeholders have characterized Maine as the "Saudi Arabia of Wind" and others rant about placing huge industrial turbines atop pristine windswept ridges.
I suppose most Mainers and I fall somewhere between the two extremes.
As more wind power projects are proposed for Maine, the idea of a standardized community benefits package makes increasing sense. Rather than have every little town try to reinvent the wheel and negotiate a good deal for itself from wind developers, a base package would make life easier for volunteer boards and municipalities with small legal budgets. Such packages shouldn't necessarily stop at town lines, however.
Mainers have been condemned for global warming on circumstantial evidence by a stacked jury and without due process.
The jury was stacked with biased legislators, environmental sellouts, state bureaucrat enforcers, and industry insiders. The verdict -- LD 2283 The Expedited Wind Power Law -- was rushed through the Legislature.
These jurors then became our self-appointed "judges," "wardens" and "jailors."
Two more Maine towns, Avon and New Vineyard, easily passed moratoriums on wind-turbine developments within their jurisdictions.
They add their names to the rapidly growing list of Maine towns that have wisely moved to protect their residents and property owners from the state's weak siting laws.
Also within the last few weeks, Phillips and Penobscot did the same. These four join others such as Buckfield, Thorndike, Dixfield and Rumford.
Rep. Jon Hinck, D-Portland, has a perceived conflict of interest.
His wife is an attorney whose clients include Maine's major wind power companies. He is a lawmaker who sits on the Legislature's Utilities and Energy Committee, whose purview includes bills affecting wind power companies.
The only thing preventing this situation from being an actual, rather than perceptual, conflict of interest is the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, which -- in a recent opinion -- said it was not a conflict.
Money spent on wind turbines from China will not jump-start an industry in America.
The whole point of the federal government's stimulus program is to create jobs. In America.
Unfortunately, that's not how it's working out, according to four U.S. senators who raise concerns that should not be ignored.
The near-universal enthusiasm for wind power seen in the early days of the industry here in Maine has waned, in large part because of the complaints from those living near towers and turbines, which dominate the landscape and can produce annoying noise. As people hear about those complaints, sympathy for wind farm neighbors grows, as does wariness about the technology. While people may still support wind in the abstract, the thought of towers and turbines in their backyards tends to sour that support.
Wind power development, as approved by our state government, will ruin the Maine woods. Goodbye trees, goodbye wildlife, goodbye forested landscape. Hello to 1700 forty-story wind turbines. Hello fan-blade shadow flicker. Hello to 1700 red strobe lights towering above us. Farewell to the night sky. And hello to a constant low resonance hum, or worse.
Before we commit, for the supposed "common good," to having a 400 foot windmill in every backyard in rural Maine, it's time to give the harsh realities of this possibility some serious thought. Now is the time, because once a majority of towns cave to the idea, it will be too late.
The good news is that the three-turbine wind farm on Vinalhaven is producing plenty of low-cost power for the year-round island community.
The bad news is that it's also producing complaints from residents about noise and questions about where this new technology can be reasonably sited.
The problems at Vinalhaven are disappointing.
Industrial wind power is on the fast track to devastate the remote mountain ridges of Maine. Mainstream groups would have you believe that wind power is the next best solution to climate change; however, many Maine residents are beginning to realize that the only thing green about industrial wind power is the money that lines the corporate CEOs' pockets. Activists from around the state are joining Earth First!ers' to fight the most recent "green-washed" corporate attempt to pillage the mountains of Maine.
I am writing to get help for Maine homeowners unfortunate enough to live near an industrial wind development.
Citizens from Freedom, Mars Hill and Vinalhaven have been seriously affected by health issues associated with these huge machines. Industrial wind turbines, whose rotors now can sweep 5 to 6 acres with tip speeds traveling at 180 mph, can send sound pressure waves for miles.
I have been advocating for wind power for decades. I never thought I would see the day when I would be opposing wind power development. However, the current frantic rush to install industrial wind on every viable mountaintop is both shortsighted and ecologically damaging. All one has to do is look at the impact of the Kibby TransCanada industrial wind operation in the remote Boundary Mountains of western Maine. This is nothing more than industrial wind mountaintop removal.
The facts about wind power have been concealed behind the propaganda that has accompanied the wind industry's well planned assault on Maine beginning with the Governor's "Task Force on Wind Power," a group of appointed department heads and wind industry insiders whose mandate was to uncover and remove the obstacles to wind power development. ...While the misuse of tax dollars to support this industry is appalling, even more egregious is the wind industry's insistence on placing turbines too close to people's homes, subjecting them to noise induced sleep deprivation and a cascade of medical problems.
It is unfortunate the recent guest column regarding wind generation in Montville ["When it comes to wind, 'Montville leads the way,' by Mark Pantalone, 11/5 TRJ] was filled with sarcasm and emotion, but was short on facts. It did nothing to find solutions to bringing down taxes while preserving what Montville has.
Let me get this straight. Central Maine Power is requesting a $1.4 billion upgrade of the transmission system from the Maine Public Utilities Commission. This transmission system will not benefit Maine because it is to increase transmission capacity between Orrington to the New Hampshire border right out of the state. I think that is about 125 miles. That's a pretty expensive project to take full advantage of wind power.
"You begin to feel like you're being used," a long-time Maine Audubon supporter and state legislator told me about the wind power movement in Maine. "There seems to be no real benefit to the people or communities of Maine."
What? We are being used? No benefit to the people of Maine?