Articles filed under Energy Policy from Maine
A group of wind power opponents is asking Gov. John Baldacci to issue an executive order, and put all of the state's new wind turbine projects on hold. The Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power says the state needs to weigh the negative impacts these projects may have on public health and the environment. Wind power supporters, however, say the group lacks any real evidence to support their position.
The opponents to wind power are concerned with the pace at which its development is occurring in the state of Maine. Skepticism and caution are necessary anytime new industries and possibly lucrative business opportunities develop. There are big bucks and big questions now associated with wind power.
Gov. John Baldacci was in Washington, D.C., on Friday to discuss opportunities for more regional cooperation between Atlantic Coast states and the federal government for developing offshore wind energy facilities. The same day in Augusta, a group of critics of Maine's wind power policies held a press conference just outside of Baldacci's office calling for a statewide moratorium on new permits for land-based wind farms. Baldacci, a strong proponent of wind power in Maine, promptly rejected the idea of a moratorium.
The Land Use Regulation Commission is considering a request from TransCanada to allow extension of its Kibby wind farm into a portion of LURC jurisdiction that has been considered unexpedited. Currently this area is subject to the usual protected mountain zoning restrictions. This request has focused attention on the rules governing such expansion.
A Rockland man has filed suit in Knox County Superior Court, seeking suspension of a December 14th decision by the Bureau of Parks and Lands that designated two square miles of ocean south of Monhegan as the Maine Offshore Wind Energy Research Center. ..."Maine is wasting a marvelous chance to do ocean energy projects in state waters right the first time. Instead it is assuring investors their projects will be subject to minimal review." said Huber.
A bill currently being discussed in the Utilities and Energy Committee would set a fee that wind power project developers must pay into the communities or counties that host their projects. Already, developers pay property taxes on their wind projects and often negotiate other community benefit payments. This bill would require developers to pay a constituent amount in every community.
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.
It is unclear where this enthusiasm for wind power will take us. The Wind Power Task Force has set a minimum of 2000 mw of wind power by 2015 as a state goal, and this means wind turbines on hundreds of miles of Maine's ridge lines. The Task Force guidelines were hastily pushed through the Legislature in emergency legislation last year to help prevent global warming. But has anyone examined this plan?
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.
Now that Plum Creek's controversial development plan for Moosehead Lake has been approved by the Land Use Regulation Commission, the state planning agency is turning its attention to another controversial subject: wind. Today LURC heard advice from state officials, environmental groups and members of the public about how to proceed with an expedited permitting process for siting wind projects.
As the "Sesame Street" song goes, it's not easy being green. That's what Saco and Kittery have found out in the last couple of years, as wind turbines that those two communities installed to produce electricity underperformed, failing to generate even a third of the promised amount of juice. ..."I think there's a learning curve in Maine about the wind," said Evelyn deFrees, spokeswoman for the PUC. "These are fledgling technologies." ..."There's a policy decision being made that Maine wants to boost renewable energy, and we're doing that with the knowledge that it's not fully proved," she said.
Mainers are famous for their love of economic development and their opposition to it coming anywhere near them. What appears to be growing skepticism about wind power is just the latest example. It is an issue that will have to be resolved soon if the state policy makers are to achieve their stated goals of making exportable green power part of Maine's future.
Maine's attempt to create clear rules to guide multibillion-dollar energy corridor projects through the state came up short Wednesday, because of deep philosophical divisions that foreshadow debate next year in the Legislature. The impasse came during the final meeting of a 13-member study panel. The group was formed by the Legislature to recommend rules to give Maine the maximum benefit from proposed electricity, gas and petroleum corridors.
Maine faces two starkly different choices about the future of its electrical system. On one hand is a plan by Central Maine Power to spend $1.5 billion on massive upgrades to the electric grid. This would make CMP's current "dumb grid" even bigger and dumber; ...On the other hand is an alternative proposal by GridSolar to build a smarter grid; one that is based on energy efficiency and clean, renewable power generated right here in Maine.
Maine has spent a lot of time building a relationship with neighboring New Brunswick, with energy as a major focus. The recent announcement that Hydro-Quebec plans to take over NB Power has the potential to alter that relationship. How and how much has yet to be determined, but Maine would be wise to gain a better understanding of the proposed deal and what opportunities it presents and forecloses to ensure the state's interests don't get lost in the financial and bureaucratic wrangling that is sure to ensue.
Maine's quest to become a leader in developing an alternative energy industry has plenty of support in Augusta and Orono, but along the shoreline people are more wary. While some see the development of offshore wind energy as a powerful engine for economic growth in Maine, many in the state's beleaguered lobster industry fear that wind farms will be just one more item on a growing list of obstacles to fishing in the Gulf of Maine. Last month, the state's Ocean Energy Task Force tentatively identified four sites along the Maine coast as potential locations for testing offshore wind generators.
Converting ocean winds into electricity could be a boon for the state but many obstacles need to be resolved before it can become a reality. That was the message former Gov. Angus King delivered Wednesday to more than 200 people attending the second Maine Coastal Waters Conference at Point Lookout. King said the state will need to factor the needs of shipping, fisheries and environmental groups when siting wind generators offshore. In addition, the technology to harness that energy has yet to be developed, he said.
Having considered seven sites along Maine's coast for offshore wind demonstration projects, state officials on Tuesday narrowed the list to four possible locations where researchers might explore the potential for wind power facilities. The University of Maine, which earlier this month received an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for wind energy research, and commercial developers will be able to test deep-water wind turbines.
Short-term thinking on energy is going to cause some long-term problems Ask Paul Edmonds, vice president of National Semiconductor in South Portland. In August, he wrote in the Portland Press Herald, "An inefficient regulatory system and lack of long-term energy strategy are conspiring against Maine citizens and businesses." I was intrigued. So I called him. He told me, "High electricity costs are a threat to manufacturing competitiveness in 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.