In 2008, the Maine Legislature passed the emergency Wind Energy Act (WEA). By legislating expedited permitting of wind projects over much of Maine, the WEA purported to increase energy independence and security and reduce CO2 production. But, something was wrong with that premise.
First, electricity was never Maine’s source of energy insecurity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), per capita residential electricity use in Maine is below the national average. Only one in 20 Maine households uses electricity to heat or cool, and regardless of the hype, during Maine winters, heat pumps alone will not keep us warm in our drafty, old houses.
Second, with the majority of the state’s population living in rural areas, transportation accounts for more than 50 percent of Maine’s CO2. We spend a lot of time in vehicles and transport essential goods over long country roads. According to the EIA, “Home heating and transportation consumption make Maine among the most petroleum-dependent states in the nation, with the highest per capita consumption in New England.” (http://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.cfm?sid=ME)
Finally, according to the EIA, the majority of Maine’s net electricity generation already comes from renewable sources, primarily hydroelectric dams and wood biomass. In fact, Maine tops all other Eastern states in renewable energy production without wind power in the mix, and Maine long ago met its Renewable Portfolio Standard.
Are Mainers being swindled by the Wind Energy Act? Just follow the money.