"Maine is prepared to host thousands of megawatts of generation capacity from wind and biomass" to serve southern New England's "insatiable appetite for energy," Gov. John Baldacci wrote in a letter to the state's congressional delegation.
"However, the development of these resources for New England must not harm Maine consumers or adversely impact our environment, which is the cornerstone of our economy," he wrote.
Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are working with Sen. Thune to ensure the intent of the amendment - to ensure wind power projects have access to transmission lines - is met without overruling the interests of host states and maybe even assuring that such states' ratepayers benefit as well.
I also reject the notion that this debate is about efforts to reduce global warming, and the opposition to the project is a return of NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard).
The debate, in my mind, was and still is about process, and whether a small town is able and prepared to understand the need to treat all landowners fairly, and the importance of planning tools like ordinances to facilitate a fair process.
By supporting the repeal as a way to circumvent accountability, CES may get the high ground on Beaver Ridge for its turbines, but in no way did CES take the high ground in serving all residents of Freedom with respect and fairness as it struggled to meet the needs of this project and to plan for appropriate development in the future.
If we focus on just the United States, with 300 million people and 100 quadrillion Btu of energy, the consumption per person jumps by a factor of five: 100 100-watt light bulbs. To be sure, this energy is not consumed in the form of electricity, but in the form of gasoline, coal, hydro power, etc. Yet many people project that this magnitude of energy consumption can be sustained by energy sources such as solar collectors on roofs, biofuel from switchgrass, and wind farms. These people simply can't do arithmetic.
The new plan stands a much better chance of getting built because it doesn't disturb the most sensitive areas and is farther from the Appalachian Trail. But it is still an example of how conflicted environmentalists can be on wind energy.
The Conservation Law Foundation, a strong supporter of the plan from the start, urged the commission to reconsider instead of killing the plan. According to CLF, global warming from fossil fuel use is a much bigger threat to the environment and wildlife than the wind turbines.
Maine Audubon, a steadfast opponent of the plan, argued against giving the developer extra time to regroup instead of having to start over. As Audubon saw the Redington plan, the impacts on wildlife and a sensitive natural resource outweighed the benefits of that particular wind farm.
As a tourist who visits the area, I notice what is transparent to most locals, and for me the skyline of Fairhaven is priceless. If the citizens of Fairhaven allow the wind power project to be built at the current proposed location, I believe you will be making a terrible mistake. The town may gain some money in taxes and offset some electrical energy costs, but it will not offset the loss in green space and, more importantly, the beauty of Fairhaven's historic charm.
It is also the truth that wind plants will have little or no effect in on carbon emissions. Wind power is so unreliable and uncontrollable. Conventional power plants have to stay online for backup. The truth is when coal-fired turbines are frequently and rapidly ramped up and down to compensate for wind variations they emit more CO2. The Electric Power Research Institute in California says, "It is technically incorrect to assume that wind energy will displace fossil generated power and decrease CO2 emissions on a kWh for kWh basis."
The executive order creating the task force notes that "wind resources occur in various areas of the State that may have important ecological, natural resource, remote resource, and other values that are important to Maine people that can lead to conflict regarding the siting of wind power facilities." The group is to recommend ways to resolve such conflicts, to improve and streamline regulation and siting, and to encourage wind power in Maine.
The order does not say that an important value is being able to turn on lights, televisions, computers, coffee makers, computers, and on and on.
Thank you for allowing me to speak. My name is Wendy Todd. I am from Aroostook County. I am a resident of Mars Hill and live approximately 2600 feet from the Mars Hill Wind Project. I am here today to offer testimony that residents around the project are suffering. There are 18 families that I know of that are negatively impacted on a regular basis from the noise, strobe effect and shadow flicker from the turbines. Most of these 18 families live less than 3000 feet from the turbines. There is no one that I know of from 425 East Ridge Road to 212 Mountain Road that does not agree that there are issues with noise. Issues that are changing the way residents view life around the mountain. We have formed a group called the Mountain Landowners Association in an attempt to share information and come up to speed on the issues of living this close to turbines of this size and generation. We have had to struggle through massive amounts of documentation from the Internet and from other towns that are dealing with the same issues.
Not allowing for corrections by CES, a petition has been presented to us today to vote on eliminating the entire ordinance, the same ordinance we recently approved.
Therefore, should not CES make adjustments in order to meet the requirements of the Freedom ordinance?
Or should the ordinance of the town of Freedom be abolished in order to meet the needs of CES, a private corporation!
Every once in a while I run into folks who say something like this: “Why save the Boundary Mountains? Why not let TransCanada put a bunch of wind power turbines on Kibby Mountain and on the Kibby Range? Aren’t they just back of nowhere? Most people haven’t even heard of the Boundary Mountains, much less ever been there. If there is any place in Maine that’s a winner for a wind power project,” the argument goes, “this is it.”
I beg to disagree. Places that are “back of nowhere” are the very ones we should be guarding most jealously. If Maine’s wild lands are to be preserved for their traditional uses of timberland management and remote, backcountry recreation, we have to resist every attempt to convert them to industrial and residential use.................A final word: We who oppose wind power projects in Maine’s mountains are not blind to the very real threat that global warming represents both to Maine and the entire planet. We argue simply that these projects do not stand up to a cost/benefit analysis. Their benefit in combating global warming is small; their costs to Maine in loss of its mountain resources are high; and there are potential wind power sites in Maine where those costs could be avoided entirely.
With some care and thought, we can save Maine’s mountains and help save the planet as well.
It is doubtful that TransCanada can make this case. The State of Maine decided to protect its high mountain areas because they were deemed to be an asset to the state as a whole — and not just an environmental asset, an economic asset. Our high mountains are part of what defines our state, of what draws people to us, and this will be increasingly true in the future; Maine is not just a pretty coast.
Wind power potential in the mountains of Maine is only a fraction of the wind power potential just offshore from the 2500 miles of Maine coastline. Any wind power siting study done for Maine should acknowledge and explore this fact.
Rep. Tom Saviello of Wilton has submitted a bill, An Act To Determine The Most Appropriate Sites For Windpower Facilities, that calls upon the legislature to commission a wind power siting study for Maine.
Let’s slow down the “gold rush” mentality surrounding wind power in Maine and take a few months to deliberate sound and thoughtful solutions.
Wind is the least cost effective way to produce power. But all the tax credits make if very profitable. That is the only reason to build wind plants. A project like Redington Black Nubble would mean about $20 million in tax credits over the 10-year period allowed by the production tax legislation. That's not counting what they sell the power for. It's all about the money. It isn't some environmental company here to save us. As far as the Land Use Regulation Commission's denial of the Redington Project, the project did not meet the standards and laws. It's that simple.
And we better watch out. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Keep our mountains protected.
The rejection of the proposed Redington wind power project will undoubtedly bring loud howls of pain from the project’s advocates. This is because the symbolism of wind turbines churning out electricity with no pollution and CO2 emissions is a powerful vision to us all. However, the issue that Maine Mountain Power and its supporters did not take into account is that there are some places in Maine where such mammoth facilities just do not belong.
It is not about wind mills or wind power. What it is about is keeping our mountains PROTECTED. Maine is not about any man-made things. When people think of our state, they think of the natural beauty of our lakes, ocean and mountains and forests. That’s why they come here. That’s why we live here. Please keep our mountains protected.
Now comes the wind farms on Black Nubble and Redington Ridge a disaster unfolding for the mountains. But LURC seems willing to break its own laws to let this happen and like always the American taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill and even pay more for electricity to boot.
I drive a hybrid car, heat my home with biodiesel fuel, and understand the need for action on global warming. I can empathize with individuals and organizations anxious to just get going and start doing something. I draw the line, though, on supporting absolutely anything that comes along without due consideration of its effects. This is easy in this case, because the benefits of this proposal are hypothetical.
The damage it will cause is not.
Public need is, in fact, one of the principal criteria by which LURC is supposed to judge a project of this kind, and effective measures to reduce emissions are surely needed. But do we need the proposed wind plant on Redington — this particular development? This is the very different and specific question that the commissioners must answer. Their job is not to answer the question, do we need wind power somewhere, but rather do we need it here in this highly sensitive site? Testimony presented at the hearing by Thomas Hewson, an environmental and energy consultant with 30 years of experience, indicates that we do not.
We must hope, maybe even pray, that the seven LURC commissioners, who are commonsense Maine people, are aware of the far-reaching consequences of the vote they are about to take on Redington and Black Nubble.
Their decision will be far more important in the long run than the controversial pending Plum Creek proposal around Moosehead Lake.
Redington, in a sense, represents a dam’s floodgate for the industrialization of our mountains. The commissioners have the power to crank it open or keep it closed.
Although the approach is too late for projects that have already begun a federal review process, a dozen New England congressmen and senators have asked for help from the Department of Energy in coordinating a regional approach to siting liquefied natural gas facilities. Reps. Tom Allen and Mike Michaud have both signed on to this request, which makes sense for future energy projects.