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Wind power and CO2

Wind power advocates supporting the proliferation of giant turbines on the hills and mountains of Maine often describe them as an essential response to global warming, claiming that they will contribute in a major way to the reduction of CO2 emissions. They downplay or simply ignore the fact that electricity generation in Maine – the only CO2 source that could be affected by wind power – accounted for just 10.81 percent of Maine’s CO2 emissions in 2012, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The national average for the same year, the most recent for which such data are available, was 37.49 percent. And for the five-year period from 2008 to 2012, Maine’s electricity production CO2 rate was less than a third of the national average.

In fact, according to EPA statistics, the industrial, residential and transportation economic sectors in Maine all had a higher percentage of the total CO2 emissions over that five-year period: industrial (15.38 percent), residential 15.32 percent) and transportation (46.51 percent).

Maine, in fact, already generates more electricity than is required to meet the state’s needs and must maintain its present generating facilities to keep the power flowing when those wind power turbines are idle. So it’s unlikely that Maine’s already minimal CO2 emissions from electricity generation will be further diminished by wind.

It would be interesting to know, too, how much electricity from the grid Maine’s major utilities – Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine – are providing to meet the operational demands of all of those turbine installations. AWEO, a wind energy opposition group, poses the question: could it be that at times each turbine consumes more than 50 percent of its rated capacity in its own operation? That’s a question we’ve not seen addressed by the wind power industry.

We can only hope that as Mainers become more and more familiar with the shortcomings of intermittent wind power generation and the environmental degradation that results, they will look at future development proposals with an ever more critical eye.