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A "no" vote on wind ordinance

As we approach the vote on the proposed wind ordinance, let’s do a quick Q&A about wind power:

1. Q: Will wind turbines bring us jobs?

A: Wind will, like building a school or a pipeline, bring a short-term burst of jobs that, individually, will last about six months on average. Long term, a large scale project might offer half a dozen jobs. These employment opportunities come in exchange for a series of permanent mountaintop towers that will each be far larger than the mill smoke stack, or the Statue of Liberty. Also factor in to the employment scenario the loss of home construction jobs, as fewer people will build homes and camps within sight and sound of massive turbines.

2. Q: In the long term, will turbines bring us money?

A: State law requires a minimum annual community benefit payment per turbine that would be the equivalent, in Rumford, of a whopping 62 cents a resident per massive hilltop turbine. Balance this against the reduction in local property values, higher CMP bills, and the subsidies your tax dollars hand the wind industry, and the loss to the local economy as sportsmen, snowmobilers, and other vacationers find more scenic places to spend their cash.

3. Q: But still-we need new, green energy for our growing energy demand, right?

A: In Maine, not really. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Maine ranks first in non-hydro renewable electricity generation. Almost none of our electricity is generated by coal or oil; wind turbines would therefore have no meaningful impact on our fossil fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions, and wind’s inconsistent nature would not allow us to decommission other plants. And with forecasts of less than one percent annual growth in demand for electricity over the next decade, our current supply will easily remain in excess of demand for quite a long while. Virtually any survey ever conducted by someone other than the wind industry shows that Maine would be immensely better-served by investing in re-insulating homes and upgrading the heating systems in our housing stock, the most antiquated in the nation.

4. Q: Well, at least wind is a relatively free power source, right?

A: Wind may be free, but converting it into electricity is not. The entire state goal for land-based wind generating capacity represents the power equivalent of a single, new, efficient, moderately sized, conventionally fueled (e.g. natural gas) generator—that could be built at 10-15% the cost!

5. Q: But, if I still want wind turbines in Rumford, the proposed ordinance will offer reasonable protections, right?

A: The neighboring towns with/developing wind ordinances all have stronger ordinances than the one proposed for Rumford. This offers us no advantage because, unlike conventional manufacturers, wind companies cannot play one town off another for a “good deal” (it’s always ultimately in their best interest to go wherever the wind is best!). If we are to have wind turbines, it is just common sense that our ordinance be at least as strong as our neighbors’. Our proposed ordinance was crafted by Selectpersons who repeatedly admitted in meetings that they did not fully understand the complex issues involved. So, even if you believe in mountaintop wind turbines, you should insist that Rumford take the time to get this ordinance right. The wind companies will be patiently waiting when we finally do!

6. Q: So, what should I do?

A: Vote “no” on the proposed wind ordinance! We can do better.

Jon Starr,