Impact on Wildlife and Maine
First Wind LLC of Boston is going through the LURC permitting process right now to build an industrial wind turbine project that would consist of 27 forty-three story tall turbines overshadowing pristine lakes ...that total over 17,000 surface acres.
Haven't we learned anything from Mars Hill and Vinalhaven about sound and human impacts?
What kind of energy is really going to be produced to mitigate the impacts stated above?
The applicant offered to put 1,000 acres into conservation. The 1,000 acres just happens to surround the turbines and roads. Gee, thanks.
Concerns about this project need to be expressed to the DEP soon.
If the 1,800 turbines were constructed, as much as 50,000 acres of carbon-sequestering forest would have to be clear-cut. In addition, the turbines require electricity to run, which does not come from the turbines and must be generated on site by diesel generators or brought in on separate power lines.
One study done in Colorado actually determined that wind power increased carbon emissions by 10 percent.
As an environmentalist, I have for decades supported a move away from our addiction to oil to more eco-friendly, renewable energy, including wind. However, when I hear the developers spin the tragic Gulf oil spill to justify their desire to use our tax dollars to destroy Maine mountaintops, with as many as 1,800 400-foot turbines spread over 360 miles, I am appalled by how this "justification" is so disingenuous.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wrote me saying, "unfortunately some of the concerns we share can only be addressed by studying wildlife interactions at operational wind facilities. This is particularly true for understanding the effect low frequency noise and shadow flicker have on the survival, reproduction, ...." So, basically let's build them and see what happens?
Now in 2010, TransCanada wants to expand the Kibby project and is proposing 15 turbines on Sisk Mountain, which overlooks the Chain of Ponds.
To do this TransCanada wants to expand the already expedited area of Maine to include the portion of Sisk Mountain not yet within this "umbrella." TransCanada is petitioning to add another 630 acres to the expedited area, all of it overlooking Chain of Ponds, Big Island, and Massachusetts Bog.
A proposal to build Maine's largest wind complex in Highland Plantation, at the doorstep of the Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail, is under review by the Land Use Regulation Commission.
Prior to 2008 changes in site laws, this project would have had slim chance of being permitted, given its proximity to important Maine scenic assets. Under the new law, it could slide through in a process that has been greatly abbreviated.
In just under nine months, the residents of several Somerset county communities might see our beloved landscape and soundscape changed drastically for the remainder of our lives. Likewise, all the people of Maine could lose the scenic value of some of the state's finest natural treasures, and few even know of the threat.
Under recently amended state laws, all could occur with little consideration to the wisdom or long term implications of such a move.
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. It is being driven by dollars and cents, not ecological sense.
To call mountaintop wind operations "farms" is nothing more than public relations. Farms suggest a positive relationship with the land.
Mountaintop wind is both an ecological and economic boondoggle. It is time to take a step back from industrial mountaintop wind power and to develop an energy policy that is not driven by the profits to be made from federal subsidies.
After this mountaintop gold rush has played out, Mainers will be left with a despoiled landscape and the magic of the mountains will be gone forever.
I fear greatly the rush to turn its high ground into an electrical generator for out-of-state interests. I think Gov. John Baldacci is way off base in his unbridled support of this frantic race for government handouts that will enrich a greedy few at the expense of many ... including wildlife that can't speak for itself.
Mr. Carter's clear and thoughtful commentary against industrial-grade wind developments should speak loudly to citizens of Maine.
Endless Energy's effort to put a wind farm on top of Redington Mountain near Carrabassett Valley is a bad idea that won't die the death it sorely needs. In fact, the idea seems to get worse all the time. Knocked down four times, twice by the Land Use Regulation Commission, once by the Governor's Wind Power Task Force, and once by the legislature in its 2008 Wind Power bill, this commercial creature is still on its feet however barely.
The wind turbine project for the mountains between Roxbury Pond and the Swift River in Roxbury is not suitable for the area. Environmental, health and quality of life impacts will be with area residents long after the wind turbines have been replaced with more reliable and efficient sources of power. People must always consider the environmental impact of any industry in the precious Maine woods and waters.
This task force abandoned the very idea of stewardship and capitulated to temporary commands of a very temporary administration. LURC has become foot soldiers for developers and surrendered the near-sacred trust placed in them by former legislators, and the people of Maine, who have a field of vision broader than what is either convenient or politically correct.
It is lonely at the top of the mountain, standing against the tide of state policy, public opinion, public interest groups and deep pockets willing to exploit mountains as sacrificial areas in trades and arrangements to benefit their interests.
LURC has made a bad decision. Generations from now will look back and shake their heads at these piles of metal and wonder why.
Imagine that number of turbines, strung along our mountains from the Maine-New Hampshire border, along the spine of the mountains to the Kennebec River and beyond. Roads up steep slopes will have to be built to each grouping of turbines. New power lines will be strung down valleys to reach grid connections. Blinking lights at night will be visible for a hundred miles or more. This scenario is too horrible for most Mainers to believe, or even visualize. Yet it is being proposed.
The Federal Communications Commission recently began the process of considering new rules to reduce the number of birds killed in collisions with communications towers. The best way to reduce collisions is to have fewer towers by collocating equipment on one structure. The FCC rulemaking furthers the national discussion of collocation, which can benefit more than birds.
My viewpoint was, and still is, that the huge towers (260 feet high), gigantic blades (add another 150 feet), blinking strobe lights, permanent removal of wind-hindering vegetation, and highly visible road and transmission infrastructures are totally inappropriate for wild, undeveloped, scenic and highly visible settings. And I said I thought that opponents should focus on those issues, as well as the small return in electricity for the massive public price paid, aesthetically and otherwise, and should perhaps stay away from the issue of bird mortality caused by the rapidly spinning blades. The jury is still out on that, I said, and conventional wisdom is that vastly more birds are killed by high-rise windows and free-running cats......Well, so much for conventional wisdom.
Editor's Note This opinion piece was written in response to a letter received from Lisa Linowes that is available via the link below.
The costs are “the loss of the mountains,” said Dr. Dain Trafton of Phillips, Maine, speaking for the friends group to the Original Irregular newspaper. “Is it worthwhile introducing this huge industrial plant into these beautiful mountains when, in fact, very little power will be produced, very few emissions will be avoided, and very little economic benefit will come to the area?”