Wilton, ME – Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM), the leading group dedicated to protecting Maine’s mountain regions from threats to their natural and human environments, including the rampant proliferation of industrial wind turbines on hundreds of miles of ridgelines, urges Maine media outlets covering the Wind Energy Conference on January 24-25, 2011 at the Augusta Civic Center to attend with a healthy dose of skepticism.
The group known as Maine Wind Working Group is bringing together fifty speakers, many who are personally vested in a continuation of the policy of government-mandated, taxpayer and ratepayer financed installation of industrial wind turbines on top of Maine’s most scenic and remote mountain ridges, for two days of propaganda promoting the most expensive (along with solar) form of electricity available to the grid.
“There will be incessant talk of jobs over these two days,” said FMM governmental affairs director Chris O’Neil, “but what they won’t mention is that construction jobs, while always welcome, are short-term and temporary. Once wind turbine installations are up they only provide one full-time job per ten turbines on average. It is like building a bridge, and after the crews head home, there is one toll attendant on duty. The difference is, at least the bridge provides ongoing value to society, so bridges are worthwhile public investments. The only results from these industrial wind facilities will be an insignificant amount of unnecessary, unaffordable, and unreliable electricity, no reduction of CO2 levels, and the long-term destruction of our mountains.”
“Maine’s tradition is that publicly-funded jobs, like those that will be temporarily created building these 400 foot tall turbines, should do work that is necessary, economic, and useful,” continued O’Neil. “Mountaintop wind in Maine is none of the above. The firms who are happy to build wind projects – good, Maine-based construction companies – are the same firms who are happy to build necessary and useful projects, including public infrastructure like roads and bridges. Wind farms are not merely unnecessary, they threaten to double or triple Maine’s already high electric rates while putting at risk our cherished Quality of Place. It would be much wiser to invest our taxpayer and ratepayer dollars on useful and necessary public infrastructure across the state than to continue this misguided energy policy. We find it ironic that many of the same groups and individuals participating in this conference have long been on record promoting Maine’s Quality of Place, that unique Maine characteristic which will be threatened by the presence of nearly 2,000 sky-scraping wind turbines on top of 360-miles of Maine mountain ridges. When you do the math on the impacts and benefits of this wind buildout, you have to wonder how we ever went along it.”
FMM estimates that $800 million in ratepayer and taxpayer dollars have been wasted on noneconomic wind projects in Maine over the last three years. Adding insult to injury, the lion’s share of those dollars travel overseas to pay for the turbine components. Said O’Neil, “If we needed to bond $25 million for the invaluable Memorial Bridge in Kittery, I’d give it maybe a 30-70 chance of passage in Augusta and by voters. Yet most of Maine has been convinced that wind power has all sorts of benefits and, consequently, believes it is worth all of its negative impacts, and worthy of carte blanche public support. This conference will only reinforce those myths.”
Many of the sessions planned for this two-day wind lobby conference will focus on how to continue to attract public funding for these industrial wind installations, how to navigate the expedited permitting and regulatory process, and the false promise of jobs and economic development for Maine communities. Friends of Maine’s Mountains asks members of the media to carefully weigh the information disseminated at this industry event along with the information that has emerged questioning the economic and environmental viability of mountaintop wind power, and to fairly present the facts.
Friends of Maine’s Mountains is a research and educational organization whose mission is to research, formulate and promote effective and reliable energy and power solutions that will protect Maine’s natural resources, especially Maine’s mountains, as well as Maine’s industries and private property owners, while also ensuring that those solutions have a positive environmental and economic impact for Maine people and businesses.
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