The town of Temple is about to vote on their wind power moratorium while New Vineyard just passed one. Other town’s should take notice and get while the getting is good. As was clear at Thursday night’s Carthage meeting, there is growing opposition to wind power all over the state. But it is also clear that the deck is now heavily stacked against successful opposition.
Thanks to Governor Baldacci’s Wind Power Task force and the emergency legislation which pushed their recommendations through the Legislature, the grounds for opposing projects have become very narrow. So narrow that the issues and values that move and motivate most of us, the pleasure and pride of place, are off the table. Even threats to our economic well being carry little weight.
Most of the speakers at the Carthage meeting with the DEP spoke of their love of the mountains, the feared impacts on the local tourist economy, and what they would lose if this 12-tower project comes to pass on Saddleback. But the DEP’s concerns were elsewhere. Coming from the narrow perspective of their legal obligations, they did not care that views were going to be blighted, tourism threatened, and real estate devalued. Nor would the very success or failure of the project, its ability to create jobs or even generate electricity, impact their decision. Only that the appropriate site specifications were properly dotted and crossed.
All this follows from the 2008 legislation. And following that legislation the wind industry has proceeded with increasing rapidity across the state, sorcerer’s apprentice-like, and tower strings will soon be the dominant landscape feature in the state. The task force goals call for 1,800 towers spread across the state’s ridges so the night sky will feature the towers dancing lights and the night air will carry their incessant thrumming.
But more than that we will have given away our birthright – Maine’s essential character of place – and our legacy, the fundamental basis of our economic future. The Saddleback project may employ three people long-term while at the same time driving a stake into our tourist economy and exposing local residents to the insidious effects of chronic flicker and noise.
Wind power is not green and it isn’t even clear it is power. By that I mean there is no evidence, despite the increasing sprawl of installations, that they contribute in any significant way to reducing our fossil fuel needs. The towers have proven inefficient and in many cases a net drain on the grid. It is only their heavy subsidy – tax breaks and stimulus money that you and I pay for – that makes them a good investment for their owners.
Local towns should do what they can to protect themselves before it is literally too late. And the rest of us work strenuously to repeal the legislation that has set this industrial blight in motion.
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