GRAND LAKE STREAM, Maine – Gov. Paul LePage was mostly casual and off-the-record as he chatted with the finance industry elite gathered at Leen’s Lodge on Friday. But he did make brief remarks about First Wind’s efforts to build 27 wind turbines in Carroll Plantation and Kossuth Township.
A cohort of local guides and lodge owners gathered to present the governor with a commemorative oar to celebrate LePage’s support in their fight to prevent the wind-power company from building the windmills in view of Grand Lake Stream.
The turbines “would have a negative impact on the outdoor tourism, which is the lifeblood of this region,” said Kevin Gurrell, director of the Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed, a local group organized to fight First Wind.
“To say they would overshadow this whole lake system is an understatement,” he said.
LePage told the outdoorsmen and business owners that while wind may be one piece of the renewable energy puzzle, “they’re not one of my favorite projects.”
He said wind could not support the baseload energy needs of the state, and called it a “boutique energy source.”
“Wind is also expensive, and I’m trying to decrease energy costs for Maine,” he said. “Let’s work with what we’ve got available and make it work,” he added, referring to Maine’s supply of natural gas.
Still, the governor said he supported efforts to invest in renewable energy, though only ones he thought were both economically feasible and effective.
“There are renewables that work,” he said. “Like hydro, hydro and more hydro.”