I am not an energy expert, but I have done enough research on wind power to question the state’s uncritical advocacy of it.
An untold number of private citizens and quasi-public entities have been purchasing small turbines that cost upwards of $16,000 not including finance charges. A 30 percent federal tax write-off plus small state subsidies sometimes reduce the burden to about $10,000.
Not one of the randomly selected six sites I know about has produced more than $80 per year in electricity. In addition, I went to Mt. Abrams High School, located next to Sugarloaf, because it probably has Maine’s prime wind corridor. It, too, is producing far less than what was promised.
A treatment plant turbine in Farmington also is a costly failure. The last I knew, Saco with its larger $77,000 turbine was trying to persuade the supplier to take it back. The plant manager did not return my call. Kittery evidently did succeed in canceling its purchase. So, all nine operative turbines I know about have been dismal failures.
The state is partly responsible for victimizing these purchasers because officials have publicly been extolling the virtues of wind power. I think state officials have at least two obligations.
They should warn people to be wary of purchasing wind turbines and they should enact a law requiring companies that sell turbines to give rebates when their turbines fail to meet promised production goals.
John Kerry, state energy director, claims that the Efficiency Maine Trust, which offers subsidies, did not look into the economics of wind power. On paper, Maine has a public advocate, but I know of no public warnings from his office.
Finally, our state is committed to producing a fixed number of megawatts from land and ocean sites, but it has done so also without knowing whether wind farms are economically viable.
There needs to a public symposium on the financial feasibility of all wind turbines, small, intermediate and large.
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