Articles filed under Energy Policy from Maine
The romantic view of wind power is a stand of wind turbines atop a ridge gently spinning in a breeze generating clean electricity in place of an emission-producing power plant. Another view is a natural landscape defaced by huge structures whose operation annoys its neighbors, produces power randomly and does not reduce pollutants because fossil-fueled plants continue to operate as backup. The "pop" culture support and promotion of wind power is all based upon conceptual or theoretical constructs which do not reflect the physical, financial or regulatory realities of operating our electric grid system.
Maine's pursuit of renewable energy got a stiff tailwind from two directions Thursday. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that a consortium led by the University of Maine has been awarded as much as $8 million to develop technology to harness winds and deploy two floating, offshore turbines in the Gulf of Maine. Also Thursday, Gov. John Baldacci's office announced it would help start up the first half of a Kibby Mountain wind power project.
Gov. John Baldacci and a national energy expert on Tuesday touted Maine's capacity to become a major producer of wind power and manufacturing jobs as the nation shifts to greener sources of energy. But just outside the wind energy conference where the two men spoke, several dozen protesters accused the Baldacci administration and wind power companies of ignoring the impacts that the enormous turbines can have on the health and property values of nearby residents as well as on wildlife.
Maine was one of 10 states to create the nation's first market-based system to fight climate change. By putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions, it encourages large power plants to become cleaner and more efficient. It's too early to measure any effects on pollution or on electricity prices, especially given a recession that has reduced production - and thus emissions - far more than any government action.
At the center of the back-and-forth between the Maine Public Utilities Commission and warring energy developers is a question of whether industrial-sized wind farms are feasible in Maine. ...The transmission line issue is not new to the PUC or to state and industry leaders who promote wind-power development in Maine. But it may come as a surprise to much of the public who see wind power as a clean form of energy that comes with little or no environmental cost.
At a confidential meeting today, parties including the staff of the Maine Public Utilities Commission and Central Maine Power Co. will seek ways to settle CMP's landmark request for a $1.4 billion upgrade of its transmission system. But two prominent parties in the case say the settlement attempt - initiated at CMP's urging - reflects political pressure by the utility's parent company and threatens to short-circuit a legal process that's meant to test whether the project is necessary in its proposed form.
This week, Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury appealed the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's approval of the Record Hill Wind Project. The group wants the DEP's board to hold a public hearing to explore conflicting medical and technical information regarding the licensing of large wind turbine projects. The appeal comes while Gov. John Baldacci is on a trade mission in Europe to promote Maine as an attractive place to develop wind power.
Through its sophisticated operations center here, the Iberdrola power company can instantly check on any of its 5,500 wind turbines in 10 countries, using giant electronic maps showing the locations and data from the machinery such as wind speed and temperature readings. By pushing a few buttons, operators can see whatever they need to make their global system more efficient as it turns wind into electricity, from blown-out schematics of each turbine to real-time photographs. What Maine officials would like to see is a few of those wind turbines in their state.
Last week, the New England Governors' Conference raised green fantasy to new heights with the release of its Renewable Energy Blueprint, which said the region "has a significant quantity of untapped renewable resources, on the order of over 10,000 MW combined of on-shore and off-shore wind power potential." Neither the report nor the news articles about it bothered to do the math. At 7 MW, New England would need 1,429 E-126s to tap that potential. Though the turbines likely would be clustered in "farms," that's an average of 238 per state, or more than one for each town in Connecticut. The cost would be $221 billion that the states don't have, though they might get a bulk-purchase discount of a billion or two.
About 35 people, including fishermen, biologists, conservationists and others, on Wednesday night attended the third in a series of meetings being held along Maine's coast to gather information about proposed offshore wind power development. Following a legislative mandate, the state has identified seven areas that are possible demonstration sites for testing wind power equipment.
The U.S. Senate has approved $5 million for a University of Maine research program seeking to develop wind turbine technology capable of operating in the harsh conditions in the Gulf of Maine. A state task force, meanwhile, continued on Thursday to discuss the enormous opportunities but daunting technological, financial and regulatory challenges of developing ocean-based renewable energy projects off the coast of Maine.
In a June 13 OpEd, "Maine power project will deliver," George Loehr, a consultant to Central Maine Power Co., argued that the $1.5 billion CMP has proposed to spend on its transmission grid is necessary to ensure that Maine's electric grid remains reliable. ...The point is whether or not spending $1.5 billion as CMP has proposed to spend it is a wise use of Maine ratepayer money.
Gov. John Baldacci is hoping that the U.S. Department of Energy, now under a new administration, will get behind a deep water windpower test project off the coast of Maine. Baldacci had a supportive audience today at the 2009 EnergyOcean Conference in Rockport, where policy makers mingled with engineers and developers, all with an interest in tapping the state's oceans winds and waves for power generation.
The Maine Senate took a lopsided initial vote Monday to deny Carrabassett Valley the right to move forward with a plan to annex Redington Township. Senators voted 29-6 against it, in a reversal of the State and Local Government Committee vote, which approved the measure.
International energy companies are looking at Maine to test new designs for massive wind turbines and support structures that would float in deep water, out of sight of the coast and in line with the strongest breezes. Two of the businesses have been attending monthly meetings of Maine's Ocean Energy Task Force, which must identify up to five offshore demonstration sites before year's end.
A legislative committee on Thursday endorsed a massive energy bill that would revamp Maine's efficiency and conservation programs but could slow down Gov. John Baldacci's plan for "energy corridors" through the state. ..."Maine should not simply be a pathway for them to get their power out of New Brunswick without us seeing some benefit from it," said Rep. John Martin, an Eagle Lake Democrat and the committee's co-chairman. New Brunswick-based Irving Oil has expressed interest in the energy corridors.
Proponents of renewable energy projects, such a wind or hydroelectric, may find support in a new provincial bill. At the same time, municipalities could find their bylaws overruled with the proposed Green Energy Act, said David Royston, solicitor for the District Municipality of Muskoka.
Now a bill in the Legislature would make Maine the first state in the U.S. to have utilities pay premiums, through long-term contracts, to small producers using solar, wind, hydro and other green energy sources. Supporters say it would create thousands of jobs and help wean Maine from its dependence on imported fuel. Sounds good, but who would pay the cost of these above-market rates?
Those of us who live close to power lines are concerned about the governor's and CMP's claims of the project's cleanness, greenness, price reliability and general value for Maine. We have met with the Lewiston City Council, our state legislators, attended hearings with the Maine Public Utilities Commission and tried to get CMP to listen to us. We are worried about our own backyards, but we are not interested in having the project simply moved to other people's neighborhoods. We want solution
Søren Hermansen, the spokesperson for Samsø Island-Denmark's alternative energy island-was back in Maine last month. Hermansen first came to Maine as a guest of the Island Institute last November where he gave presentations to packed audiences in Portland and Belfast and to island communities. During his recent visit, Hermansen addressed the Governor's Offshore Energy Task Force ...Hermansen's recommendations, based on the last decade of his experiences on Samsø Island, are to start small, invite the public to participate and educate, educate educate before scaling up.