If you are a resident of this beautiful State of Maine, I am sure that you would welcome some straight talk about wind energy from both proponents and opponents. The real facts, unaltered, should be easy to come by, right? Wrong! The facts will speak for themselves if they are brought into the light of day.
When was the last time you heard anyone from the wind industry speak the truth about the “cost” of wind energy to the rate payer? When has the industry been forthwith with information regarding the production capacity of wind turbines compared to other forms of energy; and the amount of subsidies that are needed to support this type of energy? What about the cost to remove the wind turbines when they have reached their life expectancy; and where is that money supposed to come from? Actually the wind companies are supposed to provide funding for that purpose. But, will they do that up front; and will the wind companies be around to dismantle the turbines? Or will they be long gone, off to another project leaving the locals to take care of the work and the expense?
What we need as consumers are some straight talk and some proven facts from these companies. If those two things were available there would be no need for activist groups to rally around to get the word out to the public. But then there would be the possibility of opposition to many industrial wind projects. So we are left in the dark.
I am a member of a local group the Friends of the Highland Mountains; and have been almost since the beginning when it was organized about a year and a half ago. I know these people quite well by now; and I can tell you that we have all put aside much of our personal lives and given much of our time, effort and money to oppose the sprawl of industrial wind in our mountains of Maine. Why would we do that? We all had lives before joining this group. Well, I can tell you why we do it. We want to protect the way of life that we treasure. We know that if we, and other groups around the state, do not take steps to get the facts out to the public, no one will. Where there is money there is power and power speaks loudly. This is an uphill battle. We know that, and yet we persevere in our attempt to save our way of life.
I was corrected by Mike Daigle the site manager at TransCanada’s Kibby Mountain site in Chain of Ponds for a statement that I made that “no local people are ever hired” by the wind industry after the projects are in place. That is why it is so important to have the facts before speaking. I apologize for my error. I will amend that statement to say, “Very few locals are hired.”
So, a handful of locals are hired to do jobs at decent wages. But, Mr. Daigle, what about the fact that there are also jobs lost because of the wind industry? Jobs that include guides, owners and employees of lodges and hunting/fishing camps, campgrounds etc. that may well be gone. Many are fearful of losing customers because of industrial wind turbines. People come to Maine to enjoy the peaceful outdoors and the unique scenic beauty. How many will stop coming because all of that has changed? How many deer, moose and other species will be displaced by the turbines? How will the run-off affect the fish in the brooks and streams and possibly the quality of our drinking water? How many Mainers will lose a large chunk of property value because they live in the vicinity of industrial wind? Why are those facts not being made available to the public? Sadly, it is because if they were more people would oppose wind energy.
It is very easy to do a survey in areas such as Portland and get a positive attitude towards wind power because those people will not be directly affected by the sights and sounds of wind up here in the mountains. Frankly, they have no reason to care about that unless they happen to own property up this way. For the most part the only factor that determines their attitude about wind is “the green factor” which is a myth in large part. If people are told that this is good for planet earth they will gladly jump on the bandwagon. It’s the Pied Piper effect.
So, if you live in an area proposed for industrial wind and you couldn’t care less about bog lemmings or bats or threats to other endangered species, how about caring for your friends and neighbors who value their lives the way they are and don’t want them disrupted by industrialization? Just saying…
Linda Miller is a resident of Highland Plantation.