Editor Note: An environmental civil war is increasing in lockstep with the government’s forcing of industrial windpower. For previous posts against industrial wind parks by grassroot environmentalists, see here, here, here, and here. Also see this different take at MasterResource on industrial wind “NIMBYism.”
The historic Hall of Flags in the rotunda of the state capitol in Augusta, Maine, was the setting for a November 6th press conference announcing the formation of the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power. The group is a coalition of citizens from around the state drawn together in the common purpose of advocating for responsible, science based, economically and environmentally sound approaches to Maine’s energy policy, according to co-chair Steve Thurston. Thurston highlighted the key concerns of the group in the release that is posted here. Co-chair Monique Aniel, M.D., set the tone for the press conference by recounting how the arrogance of the developer of Record Hill Wind in Roxbury, Maine, ignited her concern over the siting of utility scale wind projects in Maine
Other speakers included economist J. Dwight who addressed economic problems of wind energy; Gary Steinberg of Friends of Lincoln Lakes who spoke of denial of citizens rights relating to permitting processes; Carolyn Dodge who spoke of wind developers’ violation of Native Americans’ respect for natural resources; Jon Carter of Forest Ecology Network who spoke of the devastating impact of wind development on the vast forests of the northern two-thirds of Maine. Bringing the Press Conference to a close, Brad Blake of Friends of Lincoln Lakes used the scale of the Rollins Project proposed by First Wind to demonstrate the huge impact of the state’s goals for utility scale wind power for 2020.
Citizens Task Force on Wind Power is concerned that the state government under the leadership of Governor John Baldacci has committed the state to public policy that aggressively promotes development of utility scale wind projects without adequate citizen input to public policy and denial of citizen involvement in permitting processes. In 2008, the Maine Legislature passed the “Expedited Wind Permitting” law that negates citizens’ rights and opens the floodgates for a proliferation of wind projects that will destroy more than 300 miles of ridgelines and permanently clear cut more than 50,000 acres of forest in rural Maine. The group also notes that development of wind projects in rural Maine is the major reason for a proposed $1.4 billion expansion of transmission lines by Central Maine Power Company, which is owned by Iberdrola. Maine has operating wind power sites in Freedom, Mars Hill, Stetson Mt., and Kibby Mt. Another project in Roxbury is under construction for site access even though the permitting for the project is under appeal and the transmission line capacity is inadequate to bring the electricity to the grid.
Our testimony follows.
INDUSTRIAL WINDPOWER IN MAINE’S MOUNTAINS IS BAD POLICY
Following are the key points about industrial industrial wind power that the government and the wind industry are not talking about:
• The “Expedited Permit” wind law was an “emergency” bill from the governor which passed through the legislature in 15 days with very little scrutiny and no debate in April 2008. The bill was the result of the Governor’s Task Force on Industrial wind power, whose mandate was to identify and remove obstacles to industrial industrial wind power development in the state, and not to examine the pros and cons or negative impacts of industrial wind power.
• The wind law established a goal of 2,700 megawatts of installed capacity by 2020 which equates to 1,800 GE 1.5 MW turbines spaced approximately 1/5 mile apart = 360 miles of ridge line for the turbines.
• Hundreds of miles of new access roads and transmission corridors fragmenting deep forest habitats and fragile ecosystems must be constructed to gain access to the top of the ridges and connect the turbines to the grid. As much as 50,000 acres of clear cutting will be required. Compare that to 3,000 acres for the Plumb Creek development, recently appealed by NRCM. Ironically, NRCM fully supports industrial industrial wind power on Maine’s mountains.
• Tourism is Maine’s #1 industry, as important to the mountain region as the coast. The installation of more than one thousand turbines on Maine’s ridges will change the experience for tourists as well as residents. Access for hiking, snowmobiling, hunting will be restricted.
• Maine’s “Quality of Place” has received a great deal of attention recently. The Governor’s Task Force defined Quality of Place as “our majestic mountains, unbroken forests, open fields, wild rivers, pristine lakes, widely celebrated coast, picturesque downtowns, lively arts and culture, authentic historic buildings, and exceptional recreational opportunities. It is our principal advantage in today’s global economic competition. Quality of place will help us keep and attract skilled workers and entrepreneurs to fill Maine’s declining workforce population.”
Maine’s “Quality of Place Investment Strategy”, adopted by executive order in July 2008 contains the following
A. Protect, strengthen, and develop Maine’s Quality of Place assets, both natural and built;
B. Make the State’s several regions more economically competitive and prosperous through increased investment, job opportunities, regional incomes, and public revenues; and
C. Create new jobs and valued products and services in Maine that will succeed in national and global markets for local, regional, and state benefit.
These goals are in direct opposition to the development of 2700 MW of industrial industrial wind power in Maine’s mountains and are absolutely irreconcilable.
Human Health Concerns
• Turbines cause sleep disturbance at long distances for some people due to low frequency noise which travels further in the atmosphere than higher frequencies.
• People living within range of turbine noise around the world report symptoms similar to the complaints of folks living at Mars Hill and Freedom – sleep disturbance, headaches, aggravation, anxiety – caused by the intense sound of the enormous blades ripping through the atmosphere.
• The wind industry is in denial about these well documented and very serious health concerns, and Maine CDC has exhibited a startling lack of medical ethics by ignoring the complaints of citizens whose lives have been negatively impacted by the very first turbine installations in the state.
Electricity Produced by 2,700 MW of Wind Turbines in Maine’s Mountains
• 2700 MW @ 25% average capacity factor = 675 MW electricity delivered on average to the ISO NE grid.
• 675 MW divided by average ISO NE grid demand of 16,000 MW = only 4.5% of grid demand will be met by 2700 MW of wind turbines.
Cost of Wind Generated Electricity
• 2700 MW x $2 million per MW construction cost = $5.4 billion plus $1.5 billion new CMP transmission project to serve remote wind projects = $6.9 billion installed cost.
• Percentage of industrial wind power installed cost provided by taxpayer subsidies = approximately 2/3 of cost = $4.3 billion dollars
• Transmission lines must be built to accommodate 100% of the capacity of the wind project, even though the wind project will only produce erratically at about 25% of rated capacity. Ratepayers will pay for this gross over build of transmission capacity with higher rates due to the under-utilization of the infrastructure.
A Much More Cost Effective Use of Our Tax Dollars
• If $4.3 billion was instead directed to conservation and efficiency programs it would equal more than $10,000 per household in Maine, which could be used for incentives to encourage massive reductions in heating oil usage. By contrast, Maine’s current year budget for C and E programs is about $15 per household. The
government and the wind industry pay lip service to C and E while pouring 90% of subsidies into industrial industrial wind power.
• Without these massive subsidies wind projects cannot pay their property taxes, or their TIF payments, or come up with the money to remove the turbines when they stop working.
Towns considering wind projects need to understand industrial wind power’s reliance on massive government subsidies (our tax dollars) for its existence. When political support for industrial wind power dries up and the subsidies are removed all of the “tangible benefits” towns believed they would get indefinitely will disappear. The limited liability shell corporations that own the wind turbines will abandon these projects, having received handsome returns on their
investments. Lack of funds to remove the turbines and restore the sites, due to the DEP’s failure to require up front set aside of these funds will leave towns with no ability to remove the turbines, or deal with the long term environmental consequences of high mountain clearing and road building.
Citizens Task Force on Wind Power is a newly formed coalition of citizens from around the state drawn together in the common purpose of advocating for responsible, science based, economically and environmentally sound approaches to Maine’s energy policy.
Dr. Monique Aneil co-chair 207 364 8422
Steve Thurston co-chair 207 545 2151 or 802 384 5267
Brad Blake – Public Relations 207 773 4252
I have climbed to the top of many of these mountains in Maine and they are very beautiful areas. Even one windmill on one mountain would ruin the scenery. Plus, there is lots of rare arctic tundra plants left over from the last ice age. Perhaps some of them are unique. The proposed windmills on these mountains is the most horrible thing I can imagine.
And while our governor Baldacci is shoveling money and giving away our state heritatge, he in the next breath is talking of major tax shorfalls and making our education and social services make extreme cutbacks. It is sad to see a person who is supposed to be the caretaker of our citizens, toss them aside for corporate interests who have no problem decimating 50,000 acres of our pristine forestlands and mountains.
Mountain top wind power implantation close to dwellings is an aberration going against the age old concept of protecting both the environment and public health .
I call this the New Paradigm ; when health officials agree to consciously affect the health of some citizens and where State environmental regulatory agencies condone a level of destruction never thought possible before .
We must break that NewParadigm and protect both the people and the environment.
One can only speculate at how we have fallen to allowing the natural beauty of our countries to be destroyed by these half-wits in their baseless solutions designed to eliminate a non-problem.
We are fast becoming one of the more stupid generations to have ever bestrode the earth.
Citizens Task Force on Wind Power
Press Conference, November 9, 2009
Remarks by Brad Blake of Friends of Lincoln Lakes
My name is Brad Blake. I live in Cape Elizabeth, but I was born and raised in Lincoln. In my 20’s, I lived near Bethel, in the heart of Maine’s mountains. I know and love rural Maine as a result of my life experiences. I come here today due to my concern over poor public policy that will irrevocably destroy rural Maine and the qualities that draw people to the rural parts of our beloved state.
My introduction to wind energy on industrial or utility scale came eight years ago. When traveling in Devon, in England, coming to the top of a hill in the moors, before me lay an incredible sight. Hundreds of utility scale wind turbines. My initial impression was “Wow”! “Awesome”! I thought, isn’t that neat that they are getting “free” energy from the wind. Shortly thereafter, we had lunch at a local pub and I asked the local people about the wind turbines. Nobody there had anything good to say about them.
Back home, my curiosity led me to investigate industrial scale wind. My experience was like peeling an onion. What I perceived on the outside was far different than what was beneath. The more I peeled the layers, the more was revealed. The more I learned about industrial scale wind, the more I saw what was an incredibly slick lobbying, marketing, and misinformation campaign positioning wind as the panacea for issues relating to energy and climate change.
The forces which stand to profit from the proliferation of industrial wind essentially co-opted the public’s awareness of climate change issues for their own gain. This campaign has resulted in public policy and legislation that has set up subsidies, outright grants, favorable tax code, and favorable regulatory rules to prop up an industry that would not exist without these measures.
Nowhere is this more dramatic than in Maine, where the Governor and legislative leaders have rammed through legislation to favor the wind industry without adequate public policy debate. We are rushing to support industrial wind development with no heed to far reaching consequences. We are proliferating wind turbines that produce a trickle of unreliable electricity in a state that already produces much more electricity that we consume or will consume in the lifetimes of those gathered here.
When First Wind proposed its “Rollins Project” in my home region of the Lincoln Lakes, I decided to take action. The Rollins Project has 40 turbines, with a nameplate capacity of 60 MW. The project is slated for an area that the US Energy Information Office map indicates has poor potential for wind generation. Thus, the project in reality will produce 12 to 15 MW of unpredictable, unreliable electricity. To create this pittance of power, First Wind will blast away seven miles of ridgelines and clear-cut more than a thousand acres of forest. The clear-cut areas not only include turbine pad sites, but the access roads and 20 miles of new powerline. The sites on the ridges will be either graveled over or kept from re-growth by spraying herbicides. In Lincoln Lakes, the silt and herbicide residues will end up in 13 lakes and ponds nestled at the base of the ridges and into the watersheds of three major rivers.
The rush to support the wind industry in Maine resulted in goals for installed capacity for land based wind energy being 2700 MW by 2020. Using Rollins in Lincoln Lakes as a typical industrial wind site, this will mean at least 40 more sprawling sites in rural Maine. Forty more Rollins size projects means more than 300 miles of ridgelines blasted away to erect 1,800 wind turbines. It means up to 50,000 acres of permanent clear cuts and an inestimable web of miles and miles of new powerlines. It is also the sole reason why the huge expansion of 345kv powerlines proposed in CMP’s “Power Reliability Program” would be needed.
Look at the map of rural Maine. Forty more sprawling industrial wind sites will surround special places like Mt. Katahdin, the Bigelow Preserve, and dozens of the Public Reserved Lands the state has purchased with Land for Maine’s Future Fund from Nicatous Lake in Washington County to Tumbledown Mt. and the Mahoosucs in the Western Maine Mountains with hundreds of 300 to 400 foot industrial wind turbines. If the state’s misguided goal is reached, there will hardly be a viewshed not sullied by wind turbines topped with blinking aviation lights 24/7. Is this the “Quality of Place”, “the way life should be”, the brand for rural Maine we want? I say no and it is the reason why I am here today with dozens of other concerned citizens. Stop the proliferation of industrial wind turbines. Halt the destruction of our natural resources and desecration of rural Maine. Expose the bad public policy and change it so we leave a better heritage than a vast wasteland of industrial wind turbines and tangle of powerlines throughout rural Maine.
Masterful and very well thought out and documented. Kudos to each one of you who has spent your time, talent and treasure to make public policy makers and legislators finally take notice! If those who advocate for industrial wind turbines have their way, there will be no Maine as we know and love it. What will be left for our children and grandchildren to inherit?
For those who are from away and not familiar with Maine, siting for wind projects in Maine involve cleacutting forests, impacting a lot of diverse wildlife, and numerous lakes. It is much different than siting in praire or desert areas. For a good view, go to http://www.friendsoflincolnlakes.org/ (copy & paste the website address) and click on the loon icon to view our powerpoint presentation. The photos of turbines in the slide show is Stetsom Mt., just 25 miles from Lincoln Lakes, where First Wind is trying to build a 40 turbine, 60 MW project. The contrast between the beauty of the ridges and lakes in Lincoln and the starkness of the wind site at Stetson is incredible. Yet the policy of the State of Maine is to do this destruction 50 times over in the next ten years. It is both tragic and folly.
I am in total shock over the fact that the people in charge of Maine’s future cannot see the destruction of Maine’s best quality in the tourism business. How can you vote away the wonderful scenic qualities of your state ? To give up this wonderful attribute of your state in favor of supplying an inadequate amoutn of electricity for other states seems like a give in to the people who will benefit.
The owners of these beautiful mtns and the locals who have had their palms greased by the promised pay of an inordinate amount of money. we who will suffer are the ones whose lives will be forever changed by the
destruction of our properties, the addition of health problems to our sites , and the ignorance of our locals who have not investigated the problems with the turbines. Please check this out! Marge Mitchell
Years ago the claim was made that global warming would cause the treeline to rise and destroy the tundra on the Maine mountain peaks. Now, ironically, they are going to destroy these island habitats in the name of fighting global warming. They are destroying the beauty of the Maine. They are destroying what they are claiming they want to save.
UPC/First Wind has it’s roots in an Italian company, IVPC, that is being investigated. Former associates have been arrested for alledgedly collecting subsidies on unproductive wind plants (sounds familiar). Police say they have requested documents from five foreign companies – two in the Netherlands and three in Spain – linked to IVPC.
Other companies in Ireland and the UK, said to be Italian affiliates of IVPC, have also been asked to provide information and checks are reported to be being carried out on another 12 companies in Italy.
see news articles here: http://www.windaction.org/news/24041
Below is UPC describing themselves to the VT Public Service Board (PSB) proclaiming that due to their complete involvement with IVPC, now being investigated in Italy, they have enough expertise to build the Sheffield project. The link is to the February 21, 2006 prefiled direct testimony of UPC in their application to the VT PSB for a Certificate of Public Good.
From the Prefiled Direct Testimony of Cowan, Rowland, and Vavrik – February 21, 2006
Quoting from UPC/First Wind’s own testimony – “UPC Group is a group of related companies that have developed large scale wind farms in Europe. To date, UPC Group has developed, financed, constructed, owned and operated over 635 MW of large-scale wind turbine generators in southern Italy and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia through a company called Italian Vento Power Company (“IVPC”) (www.ivpc.com). Certain principals of the UPC Group recently sold their ownership interests in holding companies that own the IVPC companies. In conjunction with this sale, a new European subsidiary of UPC Group has been established and is pursuing several hundred megawatts of wind energy projects in Europe and North Africa, including additional projects in Italy.
The IVPC subsidiaries of the UPC Group achieved an exceptional operating record, with its wind turbines available 98.5% of the time on a fleet-wide basis. An extensive operations and maintenance organization was established for the Italian projects, consisting of over 120 personnel dedicated exclusively to the day-to-day management, operation and maintenance of the IVPC projects.”
Also from the same testimony is the resume of former Enron employee, Steve Vavrik:
“I have 10 years of work experience in the energy field, concentrating on the financial aspects of power production and power sales. My past work experience includes: GE Capital, where I developed financial models for equity investments on energy projects, and Enron Europe and Dynegy, where structured long term power and fuel purchases and sales. My first wind project was for PPM Energy in Portland, Oregon, where I was responsible for green tag power sales of the 198 MW Maple Ridge wind project in New York State. Currently I am the Vice President of Risk Management for UPC Wind Management, where I am in charge of all power sales.”
It just amazes me how people that think they are environmentally minded can ignore the potential that is there with a clean energy solution. Why don’t you take your energy to bash and dash and use it to make the changes for the greater good. I am working with a grass roots organization to promote wind as a community owned idea. We are at the begin phase of a 3-1.5MW wind site project that will provide all the power for three of our surrounding towns. We need to make our representatives realize that Maine citizens should be the first to benefit from our natural resource not private investors. Take the initiative and make it a realty in your own town, it doesn’t have to be large scale either. Our goal is also to educate about self sufficient too. The more people who create the own power the less room for corporate control.
How is your power going to be firmed up? I assume that you are not going to have huge battery packs to make your electricity normal and that you will not settle for on-and-off power.
What is the backup energy source to overcome intermittency? And if the (gas-fired) plant is producting incremental emissions (see Friday’s post–http://www.masterresource.org/2009/11/wind-integration-incremental-emissions-from-back-up-generation-cycling-part-i-a-framework-and-calculator/), is this worth it?
And what is the cost of your wind add-on and the incremental pollution embedded in all the steel and concrete and transportation associated for the capacity that is really not needed in a firm-capacity sense?
– and let the debate go on
The debate is not over as the Al Gore will have us to believe.
It’s the end of our western civilisation as we know it and enjoy it to day, if he gets his way.
To cut carbon emissions as the warmists propose will bring us back to 1910!
Do You want to give up your present standard of living because of a dubious and flawed scientific theory?
The warmists want to govern your life: don’t eat meat, no australian wine, no air travel, no cars, only one minute in the shower, no oil or coal, but wind power even if you freeze, and anyone who oppose is a denier and should be procecuted for crimes against the climate.
George Orwell and Aldous Huxley would be surprised. Its come true, what they warned against.
But we can stop this madness. Reason will prevail.
But help us to bring it along
We plan an advertising campaign in Danish and international newspapers, a poster campaign and issuing of leaflets during the IPPC conference in Cph 7.-21. December.
Allready we have arranged an alternative conference for the 8.th. December.
Below is my testimony to the State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection in the hearing for First Wind’s Rollins Project in Lincoln, Maine on February 18, 2009. The Maine Audubob Society refused to intervene or even comment, saying to my request for their support that “climate issues are a greater threat to birds than wind turbines”. Even wind turbines that will line the most significant flyway for migratory birds in Maine. The Maine DEP changed nothing in its permit for First Wind except to order the post-construction bird kill studies. My testimony:
Eagles & Birds:
The First Wind application totally fails to properly address the indigenous and migratory bird populations and the potential effects of the turbines and turbine locations on birds. It is apparent that First Wind has done the usual “take a report off the shelf and plug it in to the application”, trusting that nobody reviewing the application will catch on.
There can be no substitution for promising to count bird carcasses after turbines are built and operating in lieu of a comprehensive, factual assessment of bird populations and patterns that are unique to the Lincoln Lakes area. An example of this is Appendix 7-2, the breeding bird survey conducted in Topsfield. While the forests and field/forest edges in Topsfield may share some characteristics with the Lincoln area, it is not the Lincoln Lakes and is miles away from Rollins Mt. and the ridges of Rocky Dundee. It would appear that First Wind is saying since the bird survey in Topsfield was OK for Stetson Mt., it is OK for Lincoln as well. This is simply not true and the Lincoln Lakes region must have a separate bird survey to have legitimacy.
In the bat and bird survey, Appendix 7-3, there is a fatal flaw. This survey was conducted only at Rollins Mt. There was no similar survey done in the ridges of Rocky Dundee, the so-called Rollins South part of the project. This seems to be a convenient way to skew the bird survey, thus undermining its legitimacy. It is a well known fact that there are nesting pairs of American Bald Eagles on both Folsom Pond and Upper Pond. The pair on Upper Pond has its nest within a quarter mile and 500 feet below the ridgeline where six (6) turbines will be located. This close proximity to the eagles nest seriously threatens them. If they are not driven off by construction activity, the noise and vibro-acoustic effects of the turbines will drive them away. With six sets of turbine blades whirling right above them, it is a high probability that one of the s or the fledglings as they are learning to fly and soar, will be killed. This should be considered a “taking” that is illegal under the Bald and Golden Eagle Act.
The nesting pair of Eagles on Folsom Pond will likely soar around the Rocky Dundee ridges as well, as the unique topography of ridges and undeveloped lakes in this area are excellent habitat. In addition to these eagles, there are eagles to the south in the rich wetlands of the Passadumkeag River and eagles which nest in the Penobscot River which fish the extensive ponds and marshes of the region, utilizing the ridges for soaring thermals. It is not surprising that an out of town company, hired to provide information to justify siting industrial wind turbines would issue a skewed report. Had they asked anyone in the Lincoln area, they would have studied Rocky Dundee and not Rollins Mt.
The other aspect of the bird population that needs study before any permits are issued is the location of the ridges and lakes geographically within one of the major migratory flyways in Maine, the Penobscot River. In reviewing the topographic map showing the locations of the proposed Rollins turbines, you will note that the ridges separate many of the 15 lakes and ponds for which the Lincoln Lakes Region derives its name. Please look at a larger topographic map of the area, however, and you will note that the location of this proposed utility scale wind site is bounded by three major rivers: The Penobscot to the West, the Mattawamkeag to the North, and the Passadumkeag to the South and East. Tracing tributaries and lakes, you will note that these ridges are the highlands that separate these three great rivers. Further observation shows huge swampy wetlands that are great waterfowl habitat, in addition to the rivers, lakes, and ponds.
The Penobscot is one of Maine’s great migratory flyways. With all of the other wetlands in the area, it is noted locally for large populations of waterfowl and other birds. Eagles, ospreys, hawks, loons, several species of ducks, and many woodland songbirds all thrive here and many species visit to rest and feed during migration.
Either God or the glaciers (take your pick) have blessed the Lincoln Lakes with rich habitat for birds. The Lincoln Lakes area is unique in its richness of bird habitat. Birds are threatened by huge turbine blades that spin at 200 mph out at the tips. They are also affected by the vibro-acoustic pulses emanating from these machines. There must be a comprehensive, site specific study of the bird population undertaken and published before permits are issued for this project.
I am submitting a copy of an email exchange with Mark McCollough of the US Fish and Wildlife Service with additional information.
25 Westminster Terrace
Cape Elizabeth, Maine 04107
The other major piece of testimony I presented at the Rollins Project hearing of the Maine DEP concerned congestion on the transmission lines. I worked with insider knowledge; First Wund officials at the hearing were clearly disturbed by this. Although the ability of the grid to take on the added generation is a key consideration, the Maine DEP looked the other way. A Freedom of Information Act filing revealed a letter from Bangor Hydro Co., the owner of Line 64, stating that the line was at capacity. It is the reason why Stetson Mt. does not operate except sporadically, which brought First Wind even closer to the brink of bankruptcy, only to be rescued by the grants from the Economic Stumulus of the Obama Administration.
Two reliable sources within the eclectic power industry have informed me that the 345 KV line from the Canadian border connecting to the rest of the New England grid at Orrington is not available to the Rollins Project unless ISO-New England would order such access.
The Rollins Project must utilize the existing Bangor Hydro 115KV line, known as “Line 64″. Both of these sources, one of whom is an electrical engineer, indicate that, depending on the size of a conductor, a 115KV line can accept 125-350 MW. The electrical engineer, who is familiar with Line 64, estimates load for this particular line is at best 200 MW. With the output of various power generating sources that are presently or will be utilizing this line, it creates enough load to question its capacity.
It is well known that there are questions about capacity and congestion on “Line 64″. In June of 2007, RLC Engineering, LLC conducted an Interconnection System Impact Study under the ISO New England Inc. Open Access Transmission Tariff Schedule 22-Standard Large Generator Interconnection Procedures on behalf of ISO New England Inc. and Bangor Hydro Electric for UPC Wind (now First Wind) to construct and interconnect the 57MW wind project on Stetson Mountain in Washington County, Maine.
The study showed that the existing transmission Line 64, into which Line 56 from Stetson Mt. and now the Rollins Project would feed, was at full capacity (151 MW) servicing Brookfield Power’s 126 MW hydroelectric system and Indeck’s (now Covanta) 25 MW biomass power plant in West Enfield- both base load renewable generators. With the introduction of Stetson energy into Line 64, energy output from Brookfield and/or Covanta would have to be significantly curtailed resulting in a 0 MW net gain in renewable generation for the region. Put another way, Stetson Wind and Rollins Wind, both intermittent and unpredictable generators, could displace existing reliable base load of renewable energy.
In its March 13, 2008 letter to the ME-DEP, Brookfield Power New England LLC stated through its attorney Matthew D. Manahan that “It is not in the public interest for new intermittent renewable generation to be constructed and to pass over Line 56 if it simply displaces existing renewable generation – that can provide capacity to Maine – on another transmission line, Line 64.”
In June of 2008, it was reported in the Bangor Daily News that ISO-New England and Maine state officials assured Brookfield and Indeck (now Covanta) that the established power generators’ needs would come first when the Stetson Mountain project goes active, which it did recently. Brookfield Renewable Power Inc.’s general manager told the paper “In layman’s terms, they [First Wind] were going to have to take a back seat to our transmission needs.” The same statements made about Stetson Mt. must be true for Rollins Wind and Stetson Phase II.
Currently, Covanta biomass in West Enfield is 25 MW; the two PPL hydro dams in Medway and West Enfield total 20MW; Stetson Phase I is 57 MW. If Rollins at 60MW and Stetson II, currently under review by LURC, at 25.5MW both come on line, this pushes the line to its maximum capacity. Here is the problem: the series of hydro facilities owned and operated by Brookfield Power that are in the upper Penobscot basin. While the output of electricity from these hydro facilities is primarily for the two mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket, surplus power is sold and enters the same grid. Due to intransigence in providing any information by Brookfield, I do not have the numbers. I was repeatedly told to get the information from either the Maine PUC or ISO-New England. As a common citizen, I have not yet received the courtesy of a return phone call from either agency. As the RLC Engineering study for ISO-New England shows, however, the capacity of a line must include the maximum potential output from a source.
Also, in 2008, Peregrine Technologies of Harpswell announced that its proposed $50 million, 17-megawatt biomass boiler project intended for the Huber Industrial Park in Millinocket would not be built due to, among other things, congestion on the New England power grid caused by First Wind and a lack of upgrading. This is further proof of the congestion problem with Line 64 and, alas, a loss of jobs for the Millinocket area that suffers higher than state average unemployment
With the unknown contribution of Brookfield added to the load of Line 64, it raises a question as to whether or not either the Rollins Wind Project or Stetson Phase II should be permitted by the state. As part of the permitting process, and because I assume DEP staff have more access to sources of information than an ordinary citizen, the DEP must analyze this question and receive written assurances from Bangor Hydro, Maine PUC, and ISO-New England that the line in question has the capacity to handle the load which, as we know, must be able to handle surges of maximum output from wind turbines. Furthermore, ISO-New England must provide a plan that clearly states what its priorities are in accepting power into the grid from these sources. If the capacity of the line is exceeded, which source must be curtailed? Must the hydro stations not produce even during times of peak flow like Spring run-off? Must the biomass plant of Covanta, which is a baseline plant be closed due to fuel costs? Does ISO-New England tell First Wind to shut down a certain number of turbines? By the way, if Covanta has to close to make way for First Wind’s Rollins and Stetson projects, that is a loss of 21 jobs in the Lincoln area, compared to a promise of 5 jobs from First Wind. That doesn’t seem to be an appropriate or fair trade off.
These are important questions that need to be answered before a permit is issued for the Rollins Project. I expect a written answer that includes a delineation of all sources of power associated with this line.
25 Westminster Terrace
Cape Elizabeth, Maine 04107
Why People Should Oppose Industrial Wind
Power Development in Maine
1. It is electrical generation that we do not need. Period. The State of Maine currently generates more electricty than it uses and exports the surplus out of state. Even economic development s that project high growth do not absorb all of the state’s current production capacity in the next 30 years.
2. Industrial wind development in Maine will not replace fossil fuel baseline plants. Due to the intermittent and unpredictable nature of wind for electrical generation, all the megawatts of potential wind power must be duplicated with megawatts from reliable, baseline generation in order for the electrical grid to balance and provide electricity to meet on-demand needs without brown-outs.
3. It is a myth that wind-produced electricity is “free”. Due to the high investment cost compared to the low output, wind-produced electricity is so expensive that in a free-market economy, it would not compete with other sources of electricity; hence, it is expensive, not free.
4. It is a myth that wind-produced electricity is “green”. It is not “green” because fossil fuel baseline plants must be in place and when these are operating at greatest efficiency, they are less polluting. When wind-produced electricity enters the grid, these plants must be throttled back or placed in “spinning reserve” mode, operating at inefficient levels and creating greater pollutants. Isn’t it ironic that when the grid receives kilowatts from wind turbines that the grid is forced to produce more air pollution?
5. Wind turbines do not result in a net “savings” of energy. Because it takes so many wind turbines that produce so little electricity, it actually consumes more energy to manufacture the steel towers and install them than any wind tower will produce in comparable energy in its useful lifetime, which is 20-25 years. Becuase the turbine must continually rotate so it doesn’t freeze up, each turbine uses an enormous amount of petroleum based lubricants.
6. There are severe environmental trade-offs incurred with industrial wind site development. A site like the Rollins project in Lincoln Lakes will consume more than 700 acres of land, an acreage far larger than most Maine farms. It is more than the skiable acreage of either Sunday River or Sugarloaf ski resorts. It entails creating a 3-6 acre clearcut for each turbine site, blasting and leveling, digging down to bedrock and pouring tons of concrete to anchor each 262 foot tower which is topped by a 92 ton nacelle (turbine generator) and 253 foot wide blades. A huge, wide network of roads must be created up to and across ridgelines to get these huge components into place. At Rollins, more than 20 miles of powerlines will be cut. All of the turbine sites and powerlines will be kept cleared by the use of herbicides, effecting dozens of streams, all of the lakes around Lincoln and the watershed of three rivers. Siltation of streams and lakes will occur from erosion from all this construction. Lastly, important wildlife habitat will be fragmented and ruined. Thirty eight residences are within the blasting zones, all on wells, and changes in underground seams of water are a frequent consequence of blasting.
7. There are severe impacts on the lives of people living near industrial wind turbines. The Rollins project does not meet the emerging recommendation of these turbines being located more than a mile from residences. Hundreds of people who have chosen to live in rural parts of the Lincoln area are within the impact zone for noise from these turbines. Noise is relentless when it is windy, as experienced by people living with the turbines in Mars Hill. Read their testimony in letters here: http://www.windaction.org/faqs/15115
Even more acute, however, is the effect of sub-sonic waves from turbines. An unexpected, yet menacing threat to health is vibroacoustic disease. The turbines affect people in these ways: Symptoms include sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering which arise while awake or asleep.
Source: Dr. Nina Pierpont, Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment. Is this what we do to people’s lives to build something we do not need?
8. Supporting industrial wind in Maine means supporting the folly of Baldacci’s Wind Task Force, which was a “stacked” group intended to put out what the lobbyists from the wind industry wanted. The ill-conceived and rushed report of the Task Force is now in statutory form. It expedites the permitting process of the DEP and limits public input on decisions that change the landscape of rural Maine. To reach its goal of 2,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity by 2015, the state will have to allow 34 of the projects the size of Rollins to be built. This will entail well over 20,000 acres of land and blast away miles of ridgetops, creating industrial sprawl all over rural Maine, without a single kilowatt being used in Maine.
9. Supporting industrial wind sites will cost you money. There is a disconnect between the Task Force goal of laying waste to rural Maine with industrial wind sites and the users of electricity in Southern New England: the inadequacy of the existing transmission lines through Maine to handle surges of wind energy on windy days. Also, Aroostook County, where many potential sites are located is connected to Canada, not the rest of New England. The answer? A $1.4 billion dollar proposal to upgrade and expand transmission lines. This cost will show up in your Bangor Hydro bill for decades to come. You will pay dearly for something we don’t need and for something for which we derive no benefit.
10. Supporting industrial wind sites supports wealthy investors and corporations raiding the public treasury. According to the US Energy Information Office in 2007, wind energy is subsidized at a cost of $690 million, which worked out to $23.37 per megawatt produced. This compares to federal subsidies of 67 cents for hydroelectric and 25 cents for fossil fuel per megawatt produced. The industrial wind industry would not exist without tax equity financing, production tax credits, double balance 5 year accelerated depreciation, guaranteed access to markets from Renewable Energy Portfolio schemes from the states, and the ability to sell so-called renewable energy tax credits to companies that pollute. It is an incredible array of money making schemes and scams on the taxpayers and ratepayers. Thus, the industry is not about creating “green” energy and saving the planet. It is about how to co-opt concerns about global warming and dependence on foreign oil, and slick propagandizing to position wealthy investors and corporations to get rich as “pigs at the public tax subsidy trough”. If industrial wind sites had to be built with only the usual standards of the free market economic system, there would never be a single one built.
Help us stop this insanity!!!
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With all due respect for the beauties of Maine, I hope we can bear in mind that this is a nationwide and worldwide problem. Beautiful Scottish hills have been disfigured. Welsh peat bogs, for Heaven’s sake, have been devastated, releasing more CO2 erecting turbines than a comparable fossil plant would emit in decades.
Wolfe Island, Ontario, has become a wind wasteland. A forest of turbines was placed only three miles from Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin, the largest freshwater marsh in the world and a major stopover for migrating waterfowl. The Flint Hills of Kansas, the last remaining natural prairie, is being vandalized.
Not to mention Vermont, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, the countryside of Germany and the mountains of Spain.
This is ecological insanity on a scale never before seen. Jim Hansen and Al Gore will go down in history as the worst environmental criminals ever known.
Total, unequivocal agreement with Craig Goodrich. The co-opting of people’s concerns over climate change, etc. by the wind industry to manipulate support for an industry that shouldn’t exist is the greatest propaganda perpetrated since “the Big Lie” by Joseph Goebbels. It has devastating, world-wide impact both ecologically and economically.
While we all try to stem this juggernaut in our local areas, we need to also have state-wide efforts and with Congress. Killing the “Cap & Trade” bill is of key importance. It needs to be exposed for what it is—a hidden (or maybe not so hidden!) tax on our economy borne by every taxpayer and ratepayer. Nothing will destroy our already weakened economy any quicker than “Cap & Trade”. It is a regressive measure rather than investing in our technological genious to providing cleaner baseline energy sources and creating many more jobs than wind turbines ever will.
As for me, wind turbines are such a folly that the only place they belong is up Obama’s arse!
WDD- Windsprawl Denial Disorder may be affecting many Mainers. Symptoms include wanting to believe the slick pro wind PR execs and their grossly misleading claims, never questioning the politicians who have their hands open behind their backs and trusting the NRCM who are also receiving kickbacks to look the other way as rural Maine is ruined. Why this apathy when Mainers used to care about our beautiful state? Maybe people are starting to notice the wind industry cannot be trusted or the politicians either. Why are the state officials making it hard for HydroQuebec to sell power to Mainers? Hydro is green and WAY cheaper than wind. The Gov. is attempting to make room for the windpower in an energy corridor whenever it is randomly generated when it would never be needed if Hydro Quebec was here. If the turbines are too noisy for the Harvard campus then they are way too noisy for Maine’s quiet countryside. Selling wind power to an individual buyer without a dedicated line is a paper game at best and a scam at its worst. Is Larry S. involved I wonder?
I lived in the Bay area for a few years. When driving to Livermore there were hundreds of windmills, built in the 70’s with tax incentives. They were never able to pay for themselves, went into disrepair and tax money was needed to take them down. Is there anyone who can update what is happening in this area?
Keep in mind that the individual projects are always done by an LLC so when they are abandoned, the principals are totally protected from liability. It is all part of the well thought out scam. In Maine, the current active developers are all putting miniscule efforts into covering projected decommissioning costs. Totally inadequate. I attacked First Wind (Evergreen III, LLC) premise that two thirds of the decommissioning cost would be covered by salvage and re-sale. Now, really, who would want to buy a Chinese made GE 1.5 MW turbine that has been sitting atop a mountain for 20 Maine winters! Totally ludricrous! Even the basis for their salvage prices were way off current prices at the junkyard.
I maintained that without an escrow account that has guaranteed deposits every year and covered with a bond, the project shouldn’t be approved as this should be part of the financial capability analysis. The Maine DEP didn’t even respond.
Having said that, I actually believe that if a project was abandoned and the owner said no prosecution for stealing, the junkers in these poor rural area would be out with skidders and blow torches and the turbines would be gone quicker than it took to put them up. The only question is, how well do those Brazilian-made composite blades burn in a wood furnace?
I hesitate to disagree after your very kind words above, but I grew up in rural Wisconsin surrounded by folks with some good sense, as opposed to city guys who’ll strip an abandoned car seven inches off the crowded freeway at rush hour.
Consider that the generator on these things weighs on the order of sixty tons, and each of the three blades weighs around ten tons. All of this is held about 300 feet in the air by a steel pillar more than 20 feet in diameter weighing around 90 tons. That’s one hell of a “Timberrrr!!”
So — again, with all due respect — I tend to think that these folks will simply wait for parts to fall off, rather than try to hasten their demise. After all, turbines are typically put up in phalanxes of several dozen at least, and these are the careful people who often remove the distributor cap at night to keep the raccoons from hot-wiring the truck and going for joyrides. (Or at least that was the advice I got from a good ol’ boy in north Alabama.)
So I continue to believe that our grandchildren, and probably great-grandchildren, will contemplate once-beautiful landscapes, now full of the hulks of these insanely ugly monstrosities, rusting, disintegrating, and dripping industrial lubricants into the soil, and say to themselves, “This must once have been so peaceful and lovely. Why did they ever allow this to happen?”
Craig, thank you for the sense of humor in your comment. You are right, what Reed & Reed had to put in place with “the biggest crane in New England” (that we are keeping them from earning money to pay off!!!) would be a daunting task to take down. But then, the “resourceful” hillbillies in northeastern Maine try to find a way. Your final comment is poignantly correct. What kind of legacy will we leave our grandchildren?