The plan to industrialize Maine’s rural mountains is very aggressive and stands to drastically alter our landscape for hundreds of miles. The negative impacts of grid-scale wind turbine facilities are many, but include impacts to human health and quality of life, wildlife, real estate values and the environment.
Many who have not been involved in the politics and history of the wind energy plan might still think that “wind” is benign and “green” and necessary. We’ve been programmed to believe that the proliferation of wind turbines along our ridges will contribute in a significant way to the reduction of greenhouse gasses. We’ve been told wind will increase energy security and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We’ve even allowed ourselves to be convinced that wind will reduce electricity costs because the “fuel” is free.
The science and economics of wind prove otherwise and I encourage citizens to take the time to look beyond the rhetoric and sales pitches to the underlying facts. The wind industry has a large-scale plan for this region and few locals comprehend its size and potential impacts.
Out-of-state and foreign-controlled corporations have come to Maine because our government has granted favored status to this one industry. Incentives have come in the form of federal 1603 cash grants and Production Tax Credits, state and regional mandates like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Renewable Portfolio Standards and local subsidies such as Tax Increment Financing Agreements. Each of these subsidies, tax breaks and mandates mean that taxpayers are footing the bill for an energy source which is very expensive and which cannot stand on its own. Wind can’t compete without these subsidies because it is very expensive to construct, it’s unreliable, intermittent and is built in areas far from its southern New England market, causing constraints to a transmission system not designed to transport surplus energy to New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
In fact, many Maine wind facilities have been forced to curtail output on days when the wind is blowing, due to transmissions limitations within the grid. The Independent Systems Operator of New England recently released a report to stakeholders explaining those curtailments. The problem comes when wind “output” doesn’t correlate well with the system’s needs or commitments. No one can predict when the wind will blow “just right” so there are times when adding it to the mix isn’t safe or convenient. To quote from the ISO-NE’s June 2013 memo, wind facilities “tend to be located in rural areas, far from concentrations of customers and… in areas with the least robust transmission facilities. The transmission resources in these parts of New England were built to serve the native load, but not designed to accommodate the addition of generation sources or the movement of large amounts of power.”
Therefore, even with the small number of operating wind facilities Maine currently hosts, these projects’ output is causing problems in the grid, often forcing operators to limit production. Short of building massive amounts of new, high-voltage transmission infrastructure throughout rural Maine at rate-payers’ expense, there is no practical solution to the problem.
We’ve just learned that recent changes to Connecticut’s RPS now require that 4 percent of Connecticut’s demand be met with long-term power purchase agreements for wind and solar.
Wind developers rushed to file an “intent to bid” on these PPAs. Included on the list? Large-scale developments in Highland Plantation and Lexington and Concord townships, Bingham through to Mayfield, Kingsbury and Abbott…and at least seven more. If the projects the industry proposes are permitted, industrialscale wind developments will cover the mountains from Kibby to Highland and Lexington to Bingham to Moscow and Jackman, to Rockport, Monson and back along Route 16 to Bingham. Attendant associated facilities will crisscross through these forests. The Maine we know and love will be dramatically changed. The natural landscape that our tourism industry thrives on will be industrialized…and for what?
So that a few large, out-of-state and foreign corporations can take advantage of “free” money provided by Maine taxpayers, to produce a low-value, high-impact and expensive energy source which we do not need and will not use, but which will be supplied for the high population areas to our south…or not. That only works if we can get the electricity there…and THAT will only happen if Maine people also pay to upgrade or build anew an entire transmission system.
Independent research through unbiased sources will give you the facts. Please get educated and then… get involved. The time to stand up and say “no” is now, before these projects are permitted and built. Once they are up, they will remain —even if they don’t produce what the developers claim.
We are blessed to live where we do. We already have what so many others wish for, and we stand to lose that very, very soon. In order to satisfy the requirements of other states, wind is being fast-tracked in Maine. I’m not okay with that. If you aren’t, either, please get involved. It’s time we brought common sense, ethics, science and economics back into Maine’s energy plan.