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Port’s wind turbine idea just doesn’t make sense

Let’s look at the financial viability of the proposed wind turbine at the Kennebunkport police station. Based on a 30-year payback on the initial cost of $25,082 plus the $100 per year cost for maintenance (which itself seems preposterous), it would be $25,082 minus $300 (the meager, yearly electrical offset). In other words, it will take approximately 83 years to break even. There is also the $100 per year in maintenance costs; multiply that by the number of years it will take to break even – 83. So add another $8,300 to the initial cost of $25,082, which brings the actual cost to $33,082. Now divide that by $300 (again the meager yearly electrical offset). It will actually take 110 years to break even.

I realize this project has not been touted as a moneymaking or savings proposition – perhaps it could be deemed more educational. But what does this actually teach? It might teach that wind power is one alternative to fossil fuels. But from all accounts and studies, it’s not a great one. Not only is this project promoting an alternative energy that makes little long-term impact on oil usage, it teaches that it’s OK to be fiscally irresponsible.

Furthermore, the entire project wouldn’t even be an idea without the public monies from the state of Maine to promote it. The state pays 80 percent, the town pays 20 percent. Sounds great, right? But who is really paying? We, the taxpayers, are. Unless you have buried your head in the sand, you are aware of the state’s very serious financial problems; a multi-billion dollar deficit and unfunded liabilities that need to be addressed. Yet grants like this one are regularly doled out to fiscally unsound projects simply on their “feel good” merit.

Unfortunately, I missed attending any of the public forums on this proposal. Had I attended, I also would have voiced opposition because of its lack of fiscal sense. I wonder why the town of Kennebunkport is pushing so hard to pass this proposal. It must be to get their hands on the 80 percent from the state. So what does that teach our kids? I guess it teaches our kids that money grows on trees (or maybe wind turbines) and the state (or federal) government will always have money to give away, no matter the economic merit of the program or the economic health of the state. It teaches them that it’s OK to have no fiscal compass. It’s OK to make terrible financial decisions if they aren’t going to have to bear the consequences. Sort of sounds like the unfunded liability issues facing the state now. It is our responsibility to make sound choices so that our children are not strapped with the spoiled leftovers from “feel good” projects.

If this were a project you were considering for your own property and paying out of your own pocket, would you actually pursue it? I seriously doubt it. Everyone understands the need for alternative, renewable energy sources. But that desire must to be coupled with fiscal fortitude. Maybe I’m mistaken, but this is a bad idea all around. It sends so many poor messages, we should just hit delete.

Tim Spang is a concerned Kennebunkport taxpayer