Articles from Maine
The prospect of a new construction boom isn’t being welcomed by Gov. Paul LePage, who has been a vocal critic of the cost of wind energy. For one thing, the negotiated rates aren’t as low as they seem, according to Patrick Woodcock, the governor’s energy director, because of the added cost of upgrading transmission lines. Beyond that, he said, out-of-state power agreements don’t help Mainers with their high energy bills, which could be lower if wind had more competition from Canadian hydro and new biomass plants. “Wind is not the only option for renewable energy generation in New England,” he said.
It has been reported that Massachusetts’ utilities National Grid, Northeast Utilities and Unitil have negotiated power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 565 megawatts of electricity capacity from existing and proposed wind farms in New Hampshire and Maine that would provide electricity at wholesale rates of approximately 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The two projects announced Friday will provide 3.5 percent of Connecticut's total energy load and one-fifth of the state's renewable energy goals By law, the state must obtain 20 percent of its electric needs from renewable sources by 2020. The final choices were Esty's, based on recommendations from a procurement team from DEEP's Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy, and the offices of the Consumer Counsel and Attorney General.
In the 17 years since Maine Yankee began dismantling its reactors and shedding its 600 workers, this small, coastal town north of Portland has experienced drastic changes: property taxes have spiked by more than 10 times for the town's 3,700 residents, the number living in poverty has more than doubled as many professionals left, and town services and jobs have been cut.
The UMaine partnership's lawyer, Tony Buxton, said the proposal was filed as a confidential document in keeping with the practices of all other PUC bidders, including Statoil, and would be made public if and when a power contract is awarded by the PUC. Buxton pointed out that the university project is in competition for federal energy funds with six national deep water wind proposals, including Statoil.
Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association: "I was surprised that the university's application was confidential, from top to bottom. It doesn't seem to be the most transparent way. How is the general public, the industry and policy makers to know what to support?" Payne said he also expects UMaine's power contract proposal to be well above market rates.
When a proposal to get the state's electric ratepayers to pay higher-than-market prices for power from an experimental offshore wind project comes sealed from public view, it's natural to wonder why. That the proposal comes from a partnership involving the University of Maine, a taxpayer-funded institution, makes it even more curious. The public deserves to know what it may be buying, and competitors need to know that the process is fair.
A Massachusetts developer is appealing a state regulatory agency's denial of its application to build a $100 million industrial wind site on Bowers Mountain in eastern Penobscot County, its spokesman said Wednesday. Lawyers for First Wind filed the appeal with the Board of Environmental Protection late Wednesday afternoon.
The developer planning to build a 14-turbine wind farm on Passadumkeag Mountain has withdrawn its request for a Tax Increment Financing deal with Penobscot County. ...The developers have said the $79 million project will move forward, regardless of whether they receive tax incentives or not, according to Erik Stumpfel, an attorney who has helped the commission negotiate potential TIF deals.
The Canadian utility is adding gas power as a backup to its wind and hydro assets on the northeast, having in June 2012 formed a partnership with First Wind. It also owns investments in the Caribbean and gas grids. The partnership Northeast Wind Partners operates eight wind turbine projects with a total capacity of 385MW.
Withdrawing the debt package raises broader questions about the current market interest in the renewable energy sector, and perhaps First Wind in particular, according to industry watchers. "But from a business perspective, this suggests this particular debt offering wasn't sufficiently attractive to this market," Griset said.
Donna Davidge, an Island Falls resident and member of the group who has been a vocal opponent of the project, said that past fundraisers have been "very successful." "We've always gotten tremendous support," she said Friday. "I don't think that First Wind understands how deeply the landowners here will be negatively impacted by this project."
Lynne Williams, an attorney who represents two anti-wind groups, said First Wind's plans "would devastate the natural landscape" if they are approved. "It is bad enough what is already there. To just go ahead and colonize the ridgelines in Maine is not only morally wrong but I have some real issues with the so-called environmental community in Maine for allowing this to happen."
When those subsidies stop, you can count on First Wind disappearing with the public's tax dollar-generated profits, leaving behind a severely impoverished industrialized landscape. It is a scam being perpetrated on the people of Maine by well-funded industrial wind lobbyists, a few quasi-environmental groups who refuse to get their heads out of the sand and others who refuse to stop taking the bribe money the wind corporations enjoy passing out.
"In addition, while the project area is designated as part of the expedited permitting area for wind energy projects, the great ponds are primarily located in the only area in southern and eastern Maine that is not designated as a wind expedited area, which is the Downeast Lakes Region."
Wind companies knew about these constraints when they built the plants. Upgrading transmission lines will take money, and that will come from ratepayers. It's too soon to say how much the upgrades would cost. But the investors in wind farms still make money, even if the power isn't sold on the grid, because of how these projects are financed and the rates companies have negotiated for their energy.
The board originally set off a firestorm involving Gov. Paul LePage and DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho in March when it overturned Aho's recommendation that the project be rejected. The board voted 5-1. Aho turned down the application in November 2012 based on the negative visual impact the project would have on the area.
Fowler said he is not sure when construction might begin. It depends on when First Wind secures a power purchase agreement with a power distributor, he said. The company has yet to secure such an agreement for its approved Oakfield Wind project in the Aroostook County town of the same name, but could move ahead with both simultaneously if it gets power purchase agreements for both, he said.
Staff members who reviewed the proposed wind farm said that it would have "an unreasonably adverse impact" on the views of eight lakes that are among 14 "Scenic Resources of State or National Significance" within 8 miles of the project site.
In a draft decision released Wednesday, staff members said the project, proposed by a subsidiary of First Wind, would have an "adverse effect" on the scenic character of eight lakes that are within eight miles of the proposed project. The Glenkens community is divided on the issue, with arch opponents GLARE and their backers lining up against those keen to lever in windfall cash.