As a woman fighting the proliferation of industrial wind developments on Maine’s mountains, I have worked hard to stick to the facts. The wind industry has a long-standing practice of conditioning Americans to believe their claims about wind’s great benefits. After a year of study, I have found very little truth in their claims. Therefore, it has been important to me to do the opposite. I want Mainers to hear the facts. To make up their minds —not because someone has sold them a product using misleading or “feel good” tag lines—- but because they have been presented with information backed up by solid science and economics.
These are some of the facts I’ve learned. Maine’s goal is 2,700 megawatts of land-based wind power, resulting in approximately 1,800 turbines, 400’ tall, along 360 miles of wilderness ridges, including thousands of new clear-cuts for transmission corridors. At a 25 percent capacity factor, this actually produces only 675 megawatts of power.
Wind energy will create many negative impacts, including:
* $7 billion borne by ratepayers/taxpayers
* Increased electric rates for homeowners and businesses (PUC—CMPC transmission upgrade approval)
* Decreased property values (McCann study, Illinois)
* Health impairments from turbine noise (Wind Turbine Syndrome, Dr. Nina Pierpont)
* Increased taxes to pay for developers’ subsidies
* Bird and bat kills (Science Magazine “Out of Site,” others)
* Wildlife habitat fragmentation
* Runoff, erosion and landslides from steep slope clear-cutting and blasting (Kibby photos)
* Negative visual impacts
* Harm to Maine’s invaluable “Quality of Place”
* Reduced carbon-capture by thousands of acres of trees lost to permanent clear-cuts
* Little employment, mostly temporary construction jobs (See any wind developer’s permit application)
* No reduction of oil use or dependence (See DOE tables)
* No reduction of carbon emissions (Robert Bryce and Colorado Energy Study, Wall Street Journal)
These impacts are unnecessary. Maine has 4,200+ megawatts of electric generating capacity. Our consumption is only 1,000-1,500 MW.
* Maine is a net exporter of electricity.
* Maine’s Renewable (electricity) Portfolio Standard is the highest in the nation -—we’re very “green” and we don’t rely on imports from overseas. Over 90 percent of Maine’s generation is from biomass, hydro, and clean natural gas.
Our electric rates are approximately 60 percent more expensive than the rest of the country. If we need more electricity, there are numerous ways to get it which will have far less impact and far greater benefit to our economy and environment than wind.
Expensive electricity hurts Maine businesses and consumers. At about $3 million per MW for wind projects including transmission connections, the costs for installing a wind facility are approximately three times more expensive than for conventional generating plants. A natural gas facility would incur costs of about $1 million per MW. The CalPine plant in Westbrook is an example of how Maine could generate 675 MW of electricity in one small industrial park rather than sprawling wind turbines over 360 miles of pristine and remote ridges. Besides “fuel,” all other aspects of wind power, including functional lifespan, are far more expensive.
Wind energy is also expensive in the amount of federal taxpayer subsidies paid. These are listed by energy source in dollars per MW/Hour.
Natural Gas and Oil $.25
* Wind projects can take “cash in lieu of investment tax credit” or the $.019 production tax credit. In 2009, First Wind, Maine’s most active wind developer, took over $100 million of federal taxpayer monies. In 2009 $849 million (84 percent) of U.S. subsidies went to overseas companies.
Iberdrola of Spain partnered with the United Arab Emirates (one wind developer which has set its sights on this neighborhood) took $545 million through its American subsidiary. Almost all of the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on U.S. wind projects were for wind turbines, blades and nacelles manufactured in foreign countries like Denmark and China.
* Wind developers take a federal subsidy of $.021 in renewable energy credit per kilowatt produced. Taxpayers bear this cost.
* Despite creating few jobs, wind projects routinely get TIFs which reduce their property tax obligations, passing the burden to other taxpayers.
Each fact can be backed up, and there are many more; equally important.
Maine is our home, and citizens deserve to know the truth.
Having learned these few facts, if you had reason to believe that a massive wind development with up to 300 turbines was being planned for this corner of our world – —right here where we live—- would you stand up and say “No!”?
I hope so.
Karen Bessey Pease is a resident of Lexington Township.
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