Library filed under Impact on Economy from Maine
Maybe, just maybe, some Mainers are becoming less inclined to fall in line and accept the state’s excessively generous standards for wind development. The Fort Fairfield Town Council recently approved a wind ordinance requiring turbine siting of one mile from property lines of non-participating property owners, rather than acceding to the state model — written by the wind industry — requiring setback of only 150 percent of the height of the turbine.
“The states and NESCOE are deliberately working out the details of this plan in secret, consistent with the view of one of NESCOE’s staffers that the plan should be ‘formulated behind closed doors’ because the ‘court of public opinion can be fickle and recalcitrant,’ ” Courchesne wrote, quoting an email from a NESCOE staff member to Executive Director Heather Hunt.
When those customers are generating power from their own energy sources, they’re not buying power from CMP, thereby reducing the company’s revenue. CMP wants to charge those customers a special rate to reflect the fact that even though they aren’t buying power all the time, they expect CMP to provide them with reliable distribution service. It’s an issue in other states, too, as power companies adapt to increasing power generation “behind the meter,” on-site by small-scale producers.
The average 8-cent price for the two contracts was only possible because Connecticut is buying a large amount of cheaper power from Maine — probably 6-7 cents per kilowatt hour — that makes the cost of the Connecticut solar power — probably 12-15 cents per kilowatt hour — more affordable on average.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
As I reported in Saturday's paper, New England is experiencing a remarkable spike in electricity prices brought on by high heating demand and rising natural gas prices for electric generators.
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.
"Homeowners will pay $85 more per year on their electricity bill and business will pay more than $600 annually," says LePage - citing a study by the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Beacon Hill Institute. "Industrial users will suffer the most taking on more than $14,000 per year because of the mandate."
If the measure gets on the ballot this November and wins voter approval, he said, it will force people and businesses to leave for places with lower energy costs. "This will destroy the state of Maine," he said, appealing to the crowd to fight the initiative.
Fox Island Wind Neighbors, representing homeowners living near the three 1.5 megawatt wind turbines on the Island of Vinalhaven off the coast of Maine, delivered an analysis of local electric rates to the administration of Governor Paul LePage demonstrating that the highly acclaimed turbines -- promised to be a cost savings to ratepayers-- are instead costing ratepayers more than if they had never been built. To access the documents click on the links at the bottom of this page.
In the U.S. wind, on a megawatt basis, gets more subsidy than either gas or coal. And the cost of wind power, per kilowatt generated, is going up, not down as the industry "matures." ...Nowhere in the world have citizens willingly accepted expensive power. I hope Maine does not provide an exception by allowing the wind industry to continue to ravage our landscape to their own ends.
For several years, Maine residents have been exposed to the great promise of economic growth related to the approval of wind farms on our mountaintops. We need to ask a few questions.
Green jobs. Maine is trying to position itself as a leader in a clean-energy economy. Advocates envision thousands of green jobs, buttoning up drafty homes, developing wind farms and installing solar panels. But a new report by the Maine Department of Labor says the reality is more complicated. It's not possible now for the state to develop a detailed plan for green work force development, the department has concluded. Researchers can't even confirm the number of green jobs in Maine today.
An occasional critic of state and federal energy policies, Van Scotter said he doesn't see that help coming anytime soon. He believes that while government pursuit of alternative energy sources is basically worthwhile, wind power is still far too erratic to provide much immediate relief to state industry.
Electricity from wind farms off the Maine coast is likely to cost more than what customers now pay, experts say, and a power purchase deal for a proposed offshore wind project in Rhode Island is raising questions about how much.
Local fishermen have raised a number of concerns about the state's plans to use Boon Island as a demonstration site for offshore wind turbine testing. The turbines would take away prime fishing, lobstering and shrimping areas, according to lobsterman Pat White of York, who initiated two recent meetings on the issue at the York Senior Center. At least a dozen fishermen and lobstermen attended each.