Yesterday & today, I attempted to contact a reporter for a Portland area newspaper who had emailed me earlier in the week to set up a phone interview. Since the phone interview didn’t happen, I quickly pounded out these comments, the message I want to send to southern Maine people. The reporter emailed back and said he would see what he can use (typical!). Anyone who reads this who wishes to do a letter to the editor, any segment of this can be used as the basis of an LTE.
My message to everyone in southern Maine is that after decades of increasing awareness, we all want to find ways to be “green” and environmentally responsible. Everyone should be concerned about the planet. However, supporting the proliferation of industrial wind turbines as “green” and “clean” energy is to accept the wind industry’s self serving propaganda without considering the real facts, such as the fickle trickle of energy that is actually produced, averaging just around 25% of capacity for Maine’s wind sites over the last three years of monitoring. Wind power is unpredictable, unreliable, and cannot be dispatched to match the demand load of the electricity grid. That renders it practically useless and its contribution to the regional grid is as planned surplus, yet forcing it into the grid undermines the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the fleet of conventional generators, increasing carbon and other pollutants and driving up prices. Just this month ISO-New England released a study of how capacity payments have to increase for conventional generators due to wind being forced into the grid, largely as a result of arbitrary renewable mandates.
The wind industry knows that people express their support by superficial understandings, so whatever side wins the public relations battle usually wins with policy support as well. They have expended tremendous money and effort to have full time lobbying in Augusta, activities from MPBN sponsorships to booths at fairs where there are giveaways to the public. The first thing the industry does when it goes into an area is give $5,000 or so to the local snowmobile clubs and ATV clubs and other organizations that are easily swayed with a small donation into providing local support.
The worst activity from the wind industry is to buy off the state’s environmental groups, because if the Sierra Club, Maine Audubon, or NRCM supports wind power, lots of people, again, wanting to be “green” and good environmental citizens, will support wind power without thinking about it. In Maine, all these groups take wind power money, even when the national organizations are pulling back from zealous promotion of wind power, which is the situation with both Sierra Club and Audubon.
Two years ago when a South Portland Sierra Club member tried to set up a meeting with Glen Brand to discuss wind power, it was turned down in an arrogant fashion. Apparently, today’s Sierra Club leaders like Mr. Brand ignore the writings of founder John Muir, who wrote in 1912 “These temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar.”
Maine Audubon actually lists on its website the large category contributions from major players in the wind industry: First Wind, Iberdrola, Reed & Reed, Sargent Co., and others. It is a shame that they care more about wind power money than they do eagles, falcons, and ospreys.
Then there is NRCM which coincidentally started funding a “Clean Energy” effort at the same time the heinous “Wind Law” was signed. Ever since, the Clean Energy Director, Dylan Voorhees, has worked hand in hand with the wind lobby to fashion an effort to block any modifications to a law that is the worst special interest legislation I have witnessed in my 65 years of life in Maine. NRCM has poured out tremendous effort through its membership to promote industrial wind power which has a horrible environmental footprint, with Maine’s uplands being blasted away to put up huge machines that don’t belong in the Maine landscape.
If Maine were to fulfill the stated goal in the “Wind Law” of 2700 MW of installed on-shore capacity, based on the environmental impact so far, it would project out to more than 350 miles of Maine’s uplands permanently blasted away and leveled, more than 50,000 acres of permanent clearcuts of carbon sequestering forest, and a spiderweb of more than 1,000 miles of new transmission lines, and at least two more 345 kv lines similar to the recently completed MPRP that cost $1.4 billion. And all that destruction of Maine’s scenic and natural resources and its vaunted “Quality of Place” for no electricity benefit to this state. Do we really want to be a wind turbine plantation to satisfy the ideological whims of southern New England states?
Unfortunately, people in the southern part of Maine never see or are not impacted by wind power. It is happening somewhere remote, in a place few people in southern Maine visit. So it is OK to be proudly “green” and zealously support wind power. But let’s bring the soon to be completed Oakfield project to greater Portland. After all, according to NREL data, the coast has far more reliable wind potential than the low ridges of southern Aroostook County. Oakfield is 50 turbines, each rated 3 MW and they stand 489 feet tall from base to apex of the blade. (It is getting worse–the “Weaver Wind” project under consideration by the DEP proposes turbines 570 ft tall within the viewshed of Acadia National Park). The tallest building in Maine is Portland’s Franklin Towers at 204 ft tall, so these turbines are more than double that size. Every time a developer wants to build more than 100 ft high in the urban core of the city, there is a huge outcry of “its too big” and “it is out of scale”! Well, Portlanders, why should scenic regions of our beautiful state be ruined by these ugly, noisy machines?
If this project were being built in greater Portland, with proper spacing, you would need to line Baxter Blvd., Eastern & Western Prom with turbines, fill up Deering Oaks Park, Baxter’s Woods, Bug Light Park, Hinckley Park, and Fort Williams Park just to put up the 50 turbines being placed in Oakfield. Portland area people would be shocked by the enormity of these machines and wail about how out of scale and out of place they are!
Don’t like the sound of the jets taking off and landing at the Portland jetport? When these turbine blades get cranking, it is like the roar of a jet overhead that just never goes away! It is keen to be “green” if you don’t have to put up with these monstrosities! Ironically, Portland and Cape Elizabeth will never have them because these are two of the 46 communities that have adopted restrictive wind ordinances to keep the wind industry away!
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