Highland Plantation – Two former political rivals are squaring off once again, this time over wind power. Angus King and Jonathan Carter fought for the Blaine House in 1994. Today they’re battling over the Highland wind power project.
Sponsors of the Highland wind power project hope to put 39 turbines on top of this ridge overlooking the Appalachan Trail and the Bigelow preserve. Proponents, like former Governor Angus King, say the project would allow Mainer’s to use homegrown electricity instead of oil to heat their homes. They’re also offering a one time $6000 grant to Highland residents. “They can then use it for energy efficiency, weatherization, solar panels,” says King. “But they can also buy electric thermal storage heat units which we would provide the electricity at night. They store the electricity at night and then release it during the day.”
Opponents of the project, like King’s former adversary in the 94 gubernatorial race, Jonathan Carter, say the grant is nothing more than a PR stunt. “The fact is that most people up here heat with wood and they’re not likely to change over to oil. Wood would be a lot cheaper,” Carter says.
Carter fears that if the project is completed it would take a huge bite out of the tourism industry around here. “It would have a devastating affect,” he says. “Anybody who lives within two miles of a turbine they’re going to see their property values drop 20-40%”
That concern is one shared by some who make their living on tourism. Greg Drummond owns the Claybrook Mountain Lodge. “I own a fair amount of woodland here and I had some plans to sell that as an asset to give me some retirement money,” Drummond says. “Should these turbines come I how that’s going to be very easy. Certainly won’t get what I paid for it.”
Meanwhile supporters of the project are reminding people that Maine is the nations leader in home heating oil use and they insist this is the best path for Maine’s economy. “What we’re trying to do is design a project that makes sense and that makes sense to the people of Maine,” King says. “And that’s the best you can do. There’s some people you’re never going to satisfy.”
Drummond, who used to support wind power, now believes the pristine view and tranquility around here is too big of a price to pay. “It’s something that we own here in this part of Maine. No one else on the whole east coast owns it. It seems to me there’s much more value there then what little bit of CO-2 reduction we’re gonna get out of this wind project.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding