Eliminating unrealistic statewide wind energy capacity goals, as Woodcock suggests, would be a start toward revamping Maine's wind energy policy to reflect the progress that's been made and the best route to capitalize on it in the future.
Once the Rollins project was built, Rainer and Gaby Engle of Switzerland, who bought their "American dream getaway," faced 21 turbines -- the sounds and sights of which dominated their lakeside experience. They lost their enjoyment in the property and listed their property for sale.
Mainers have a right to know about fires or other potentially hazardous situations at large-scale industrial facilities like wind farms. A simple change to wind farm permitting rules to require that operators report fires at their facilities in a timely manner would help public safety and industry officials compile data that could be used to mitigate future hazards.
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 truth is that the project's benefits to Maine are ambiguous, while the costs to our state are clear and real -- nearly $200 million will need to be subsidized by Maine families and businesses. This is the wrong direction for developing a new industry and antithetical to improving Maine's business climate and reducing the energy bill burdens on Maine families.
The Press Herald's report about our recent economic study of Maine's renewable energy mandate requires many corrections that could have been resolved had reporter Steve Mistler contacted the organizations he writes about. I will address a few.
The vote to allow King's wind business was a very close one, with people most affected having no vote. There were no local jobs created with the exception of a single management position, and some electricity will be free as long as the project makes money.
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.
How can you look the people of Maine straight in the eye and tell them that they are living in the Saudi Arabia of Wind, when you know that this same line is being told to residents of at least 14 other states?
King profited from a law he passed as governor, took taxpayer money he did not need from President Obama's discredited "Green Energy" loan program and personally benefited from Obama's failed stimulus spending bill. That's a political trifecta. In addition to being the "King of Spending," look for Republicans to crown the former governor as the "King of Wind" and the "King of Cronyism."
It is time that our regulators in Augusta wake up to the permanent damage being done for the benefit of a short-sighted economic injection. The people of Lexington and Concord townships are just the latest victims.
We've spoken clearly. Our state government must defend the will of the people. A foreign corporation must not have greater rights than American citizens. Iberdrola should respect the resolve of the people and abandon its wind development plans for Lexington and Concord townships.
They may be called "smart meters," but the multiple controversies that accompanied their implementation in Maine and other places have not left the impression that all their implications were fully thought out.
More and more Mainers, who earlier had bought into the simplistic conclusion that wind turbines in Maine are a wonderful "green" solution for our energy needs, are learning that, by and large, Maine is not getting a justifiable economic or energy return from the wind turbines that mar the landscape.
David Farmer's recent complaints that Gov. Paul LePage is rushing bills even if "some ideas are not ready for prime time" ring hollow when compared to Gov. John Baldacci's record.
As a private citizen who has been fighting the "not-so-ready-for-prime-time" idea of industrial wind power for three years, I would like to refresh Mr. Farmer's memory ...of one of the most destructive pieces of environmental legislation in Maine's history.
Maine's experience with is instructive. While everyone was worried about the "visual" pollution of 450-foot tall white towers sticking up four to five times higher than the surrounding forest, the most invasive aspect of wind turbines has actually been the incessant low frequency "thuds" that come from the blades as they rotate.
This has caused issues for the people who live within the sound's radius which, even in forested areas, is significantly further away than the quarter mile setback.
For years environmentalist fought ski areas over putting one lift up to a summit for thousands of skiers and riders to enjoy. Now some of these same environmentalists support desecrating entire ridge lines with heavy-duty roadways and giant wind turbines towering 400 to 450-feet with wing spans greater than a 747. I do not get it. How do these big white erections pass as "green"?
The Energy Information Agency of the Department of Energy published figures in August 2011 showing that for the fiscal year 2010, the federal subsidies were as follows: Hydro received 1.8 percent of the federal subsidies for renewable energy; nuclear received 21 percent; coal received 10 percent and wind a whopping 42 percent.
The facts are the facts and the science is very clear - mountaintop industrial wind destroys forests, lays waste to fragile mountaintops, alters mountain hydrology, causes soil erosion and heavy metal leaching, eliminates important wildlife habitat, kills birds and bats, and does NOT reduce carbon emissions. In addition, it destroys the wild, scenic quality and silence of the mountains with flashing red lights and industrial high and low frequency sounds.
In the background, the turbines churn like a rotating drum powered by Blakean bellows. What is so distracting is that the quality of sound varies from moment to moment. This is not the noise of a highway, a factory, an airport, or even the noise scape of a city. Turbine noise is as variable as the shifting wind, cementing one's attention to intermittency like the rotating lights on a police cruiser. That is on the good days.