Articles filed under Energy Policy from Maine
When the Friends of Spruce Mountain saw their appeal to the Spruce Mountain Wind Project denied last week, the group's lawyer also presented a proposed amendment to Maine's noise rules in the state's Site Location Law. The result of a petition effort by the Maine-based Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power, the amendment would have the Maine Department of Environmental Protection apply different standards to wind turbine noise than to other industrial noise.
A group opposing industrial windmills atop Maine's mountain ranges has convinced several lawmakers to submit legislation that scrutinizes and reduces the speed of the state's wind power initiative. Wind power proponents counter that the group isn't looking for transparency or to slow down wind development, but to stop it altogether.
Because the law refers to the community benefit as both an agreement and a package, "the developer has the ability to define its own benefit," Mills said, "in which case it may not be an agreement at all."
The euphemisms of pro-wind developers at a LURC hearing to add Kossuth Township to the expedited wind development zone highlight last fall offered a picture of disturbing political and financial alliances that scar Maine landscapes.
Groups representing wilderness guides and owners of sporting camps joined a well-established organization from Penobscot County on Thursday in asking Gov.-elect Paul LePage to impose a moratorium on permits for new industrial wind power farms. A LePage spokesman said later that the governor-elect would do no such thing.
Speakers at a public forum Monday on Central Maine Power Co.'s smart meter system urged the utility to slow the project, consider hard-wired meters and allow customers to opt out of having the devices installed at their homes.
As construction valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars unfolds, the industry faces legal and regulatory challenges even as it struggles to gain new financing in a post-recessionary climate where investors are cautious. Perhaps nowhere are the stakes higher, or the positions more complex, than for the state's major environmental groups.
Kenderdine said a large number of states that have passed renewable energy quotas for their utilities may find those requirements in danger, once new governors take office. In Maine, meanwhile, the push for developing wind power both on land and offshore may lose steam under LePage as the new governor, Rothstein said.
The outcome of the race among Republican climate skeptic Paul LePage, Democrat Libby Mitchell and independent candidates, analysts say, could determine the state's role in the nation's only cap-and-trade system, operating in the Northeast. It also is an example of the political intensity hovering over the region heading into tomorrow.
Detractors argue the technology is unproven and say the money and manpower would be better spent on weatherizing homes and funding other forms of alternative energy such as tidal power. Less than 2 percent of electricity in Maine and New Hampshire is currently derived from wind farms.
Be careful about banking too much on renewables, Buxton said, because land-based wind power today costs much more than power generated by natural gas, and offshore wind power will cost three or four times as much. And don't look for miracles from Canada, he said. The Canadians can produce low-cost hydroelectricity, but they sell it in the United States at the market price.
The take-home point from this and other windmill controversies is that windmills are not the magical power source they're touted to be. They should not be built near where people live.
They voiced their disgust that the governor signed the expedited permitting law as emergency legislation, allegedly for the safety and public health of Mainers, yet the electricity is for the benefit of southern New England. ...Gone is the myth that wind turbines will reduce foreign oil dependence.
Candidates engage in wishful thinking if they believe wind power, producing electric home heating, will displace oil burners. Wind is not reliable enough or plentiful enough. The private sector, getting market prices, won't lower the bills. More renewables won't either.
During Tuesday's interview, Galan was reminded that Maine is preparing to elect a new governor, and that the front-runner in the polls, Paul LePage, has said he doesn't support the legislative wind goals. Galan said his company needs regulations that are predictable and stable if it is to invest further in Maine.
With the addition of expensive wind, and even more expensive off-shore wind, and the cost of the new power line, Maine people cannot look forward to lower rates. Yet we will be in economic competition with Vermont and other states. Our future should be with hydro and natural gas, not wind power. But the saddest thing to me is the way the public has been discouraged from participation.
Maine citizens weren't consulted before this misguided and biased law was enacted. As an "emergency measure" we didn't have time to make our objections known before it was implemented. What is now apparent is that the wind industry hugely influenced the crafting of this law.
Wind power in Maine is a chess game, a chess game for those protected by multinational companies and allies in the current administration. ...A game that put people's rights and public health behind those of the wind industry and simply ignored the complaints of those disturbed by the maddening whoosh of turbines.
After proposing major changes to state law that would speed up the review of wind power projects, Gov. John Baldacci's wind power task force members went one step further: They made a map. ...Others describe the map-drawing process as a last-minute rush to get the task force's report done in time for legislators to consider as they neared the end of a short session. "There was a lot of ‘Here, here, here and here' and ‘No, no, no and no," during the map debate.
The policy that eventually became the Maine Wind Energy Act of 2008 was the product of several public groups and included crucial input from public agencies. There were a number of cases where people from those groups and agencies were either connected to the wind industry or would soon be connected to the wind industry.