2 Things You Can Do to Stop the Wind Welfare

2 Things You Can Do to Stop the Wind Welfare

(Which could also stop the senseless assault on Maine’s environment & economy.)

It’ll take you five minutes!  Here’s what to do: 

1.  Cut and paste the below narrative, and send it to Maine’s four elected officials in Washington (their contact info is here).

2.  Then call each one and ask if they know that Maine’s leading wind developer is on record as saying “We don’t need the dough, but it’s so nice of you to throw it at us every year!”


Congress will soon be voting on the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC).  This subsidy has died many times since it was enacted in 1992 to spur a new industry. Now that the industry is mature, it is time to stop the PTC. 
We don’t need the money, but as long as you’re spending it, we’re taking it!
Maine’s dominant wind developer is on record as saying that the PTC is pennies from heaven: 
Maine’s wind energy buildup in the last decade has been mostly by one developer:  First Wind (now SunEdison).  In 2012 First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor discussed the PTC in a Recharge News article:
First Wind Chief Executive Says Life Without PTC is Possible
"I know the industry has needed it. I think the question for all of us is, ‘Do we need it any more or forever?’ I believe the answer is no."
Just a few weeks ago, SunEdison (now in financial difficulty) CEO Ahmad Chatila discussed the PTC in an October 2015 Bloomberg article:
US Tax Breaks That Clean Power Doesn’t Seem to Mind Losing
“If the PTC expires we will be fine, we can get by.” 

Isn't it time that CONGRESS stop funding the PTC?



We Need You In The Game


FMM got many pats on the back recently when we salvaged quite a bit out of a lost cause, winning significant concessions from Maine's largest wind developer.  (In case you missed that, CLICK HERE.)  As usual there are armchair quarterbacks, and the news didn't please everyone.  

But that battle is over and FMM carries on in earnest.  With at least three new wind projects to oppose, and with so much public educating to do...

…we don't need armchair quarterbacks -- we need you!

A Maine Sunday Telegram article this week quoted someone who claimed to be "sold out" by FMM's action. A reader of that article might be led to wonder if the wind resistance forces in Maine have been weakened.  

No way.  That person who felt disappointed was unfamiliar with the case, and expressed understandable frustration that another Maine wind project had survived the opposition.   

We were disappointed too.  Which is why FMM held out for so much from the wind developer:

  •  $2.5 million in grants to some of the most urgent and worthy Maine conservation projects
  •  A quarter million dollars for wind turbine bat mortality research
  •  A 50% increase in decommissioning funds for the project, plus regular guaranteed increases
  •  A contractual "Wind Exclusion Zone" covering some of the state's finest natural resources
  •  A 300 X 30 mile "No Wind Zone" that more than doubles Appalachian Trail scenic setbacks
  •  A much broader audience of Mainers who are now looking at wind more skeptically 

Would FMM rather that we could stop the project?  Of course.  But reckless spending of your precious dollars is irresponsible non-profit stewardship. Having opposed that wind project vigorously for two years, both before and after the permits were granted, having seen our appeal go up in smoke when all seven of our objections were refuted, and preparing to spend another $50,000 or more to litigate further, FMM's Board made a responsible business decision: It agreed to cease a hopeless law suit in exchange for a lot of value to Maine.

So FMM perseveres.  But with all the value that FMM won for Maine, it all went to the public good, and to other fine conservation organizations.  FMM still needs your financial support!  You can rest assured that every penny of your FMM donation is dedicated to the mission.

Looking forward, the public and policymakers need to be educated about the high impacts and low benefit from wind energy. The state's rubber stamp permitting process needs to be strengthened. Municipalities and opposition groups need our assistance protecting their communities and homes. FMM continues to watch important cases before Public Utilities Commissions in Maine and New England.  Both Maine's environment and economy are in peril because of wind energy development, and FMM is out there on the field every day, in the game, working on this mission, preventing that peril.

FMM can't win the game if you're on the sideline.  Please click the donate button on this page and make your contribution now. 

Thank you for your continued support.

Rand Stowell

Founder & Chairman 

Beware! Mainers Went to Denmark to Learn

Mainers recently went to Denmark to learn how to get off oil.  


You might have seen the news about the Grow Smart Maine trip in search of climate solutions. They will talk about it at their October 20 Annual Meeting in Biddeford. 


They said their inquiries would focus on fossil fuel reduction and energy, but the itinerary and the "What We've Learned" article they published upon return show that the curriculum was almost exclusively about electricity. 


Electricity is a shambles in Denmark, so hopefully our Maine pilgrims (including some legislators) were taking notes on what NOT to do, such as: 

1.  See the Danish equivalent of ISO Express (real time dashboard). As of 60 seconds ago electricity consumption was almost 50% imports from Norway, Sweden and Germany.  


2.  Imports are critical to Denmark’s attempted use of renewables. It's feast or famine with wind energy, which results in Net Imports.  


 3.  Denmark now has the highest electricity rates in all of the EU. 


See Energinet’s (the national grid operator) 2014 Annual Report. 


One only need to peruse the first 25-30 pages to get a feel for all of their problems. Denmark’s present power market is in a state of dysfunction and instability. Power disruptions are commonplace. If they can’t import enough power during high peak periods they don’t have enough domestic conventional capacity to keep the lights on. Demand Response//curtailment is their only remaining option. They claim that wind provides 40% of the country’s power yet 29% of total generation is exported while 37.5% of total consumption is imported (document page 15). 

Entering this century Denmark claimed their objective was to become energy independent and self-sufficient. They are now pushing as hard as they can for far more cooperation in power markets amongst the EU. They need buyers for their wind power when they can’t use it, and they need imported power sources when they can’t produce enough of their own power. Norway routinely cuts them off when their hydro pumped storage falls below thresholds the Norwegians consider safe to sustain their own grid. 

Energinet no longer reports their actual performance with meeting their Kyoto CO2 quota for power generation. The last time they reported was for 2012, when they missed their target then by 17.6%. The only way Denmark meets hypothetical compliance now is by generating excess emissions credits from increased capacity in renewables which is primarily off-shore wind. 

Denmark has always claimed that they were on the leading edge of going green since the early 1990’s. Based on their experience going green means skyrocketing prices, grid instability and unreliability and curtailment of consumption in order to keep from increasing their emissions.  

There is a positive note about the Grow Smart trip.  Maine CO2 emissions from Transportation are more than QUADRUPLE our CO2 emissions from Electricity.  The folks from Maine report that they did some bicycle riding while in Denmark.  Now THERE's a "solution" for Maine! 




Get Ready. Process Starts for Maine's Biggest Wind Project Yet

The largest wind complex in New England has been proposed for Aroostook County.

119 towers standing 492 feet tall would be visible from the Crown of Maine to Katahdin.

It is called the Number Nine Wind Project, and it would be the first development in Maine for a Texas company whose shenanigans FMM exposed 13 months ago in this article.  

Their application is complete, and the agency that will either approve or deny the permit will host a public meeting where you can enter your objections into the record.

The Public Meeting will be at Central Aroostook High School in Mars Hill at 6:00 PM on Thursday, October 22.  

A public meeting is your chance to speak against the project.  Comments must be specific to the proposal ("I don't like subsidies" is not an accepted objection) and they will be considered by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in its review of the application.  You can speak at the meeting or submit written comments by email to this address:



Here is a link to the DEP's project file, where you can view the entire application:  



Public comment will be accepted through early March, 2016, which is the deadline for DEP to render its decision.  Here is a guide to how the process will work:  



Please get involved, speak up and stay tuned as this process unfolds.


You Can Opt Out of the Expedited Wind Area

This year the Legislature created a process that allows residents in the Unorganized Territory (UT) to remove themselves from the so-called "Expedited Area" where wind development is essentially a rubber stamp transaction. If you live in the UT, you only have six months to avail yourself of this opportunity. After June of 2016, you will lose the chance. 

Removing your township, plantation or some part of it is not a guaranteed wind-killer, but if a wind developer comes seeking to industrialize your newly Unexpedited Area, it will have to go through a zoning process where you have a fair chance to protect yourself and your property.

You've watched the dozens of cities and towns in Maine write wind ordinances to protect themselves, while you've also watched helplessly as the UT gets overrun by massive wind complexes.

If you want to make this change in your township or plantation, it isn't very difficult or expensive, but FMM suggests that you look into it right away.  FMM has made arrangements with an experienced attorney who is ready to guide you through this process at a reasonable cost. 

To learn more CLICK HERE.  

To get started opting out of the Expedited Area today, contact us:   mainemountainfriends@gmail.com


Big News

FMM Announces Major Conservation Funding

In losing legal battle over wind project, FMM achieves significant natural resource wins

From Rand Stowell, FMM's Founder & Chairman

Dear Friends:

You may recall that FMM led the legal opposition against the Bingham Wind Project, which was proposed a few years ago by First Wind (now SunEdison).  We formally raised numerous objections but in 2014 the license was granted under Maine's permissive wind siting standards. When we appealed the decision, the appeals board ultimately rejected all seven issues that our appeal raised.

The project is now under construction, sadly, but I have some good news to impart: all was not lost.

After months of negotiation, FMM and SunEdison have found common ground on preserving significant Maine natural resources. 

Thanks to the incredible efforts of Chris O'Neil, FMM's VP of Public Affairs,  SunEdison will dedicate $2.75 million to several organizations with the funds used exclusively for critical conservation projects. These include mountain trail creation and maintenance, land acquisition, and the protection of wildlife.

A conservation fund was created as one part of an extensive agreement between SunEdison and FMM following the approval of the Bingham Wind Project.  After the project was granted its license by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), FMM agreed to cease the litigation in exchange for the provisions that SunEdison has agreed to.

We were obviously disappointed to lose our fight against the biggest wind project in Maine, but we are happy that we could ensure considerable good is coming from it.

Under the terms of the agreement, FMM spent months interviewing Maine conservation organizations to identify and determine what projects were most critically in need of funding.  Given recent Maine history in conservation funding, FMM found no shortage of worthy projects.

Here is an excerpt from our press release: 

“I thought spending 2.5 million dollars of someone else’s money would be easy,” said Chris O’Neil, the independent public affairs and policy consultant who negotiated both the FMM-SunEdison agreement and the various conservation deals.  “But my client quickly learned it could have funded 25 million dollars worth of desirable projects, had the money been available. That said, we are pleased to recoup so much good from such a big loss.” 

Beneficiaries for the first $1.5 million include the Trust for Public Lands, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, the Forest Society of Maine the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and Mahoosuc Land Trust.  The conservation projects are located across Maine, from the western mountains through the Moosehead and Hundred Mile Wilderness regions to Katahdin. FMM is not a beneficiary of the fund.  (See a list of the organizations, contacts and the funded projects by clicking here.)

The deal contains more than conservation funding:

-  SunEdison will not build future wind projects in agreed-upon sections of Maine. See map by clicking here.  For a smaller JPG file click here.  A key part of this “Exclusion Zone” is a 15 mile buffer from both Baxter State Park, and from either side of Maine’s 281 mile Appalachian Trail.  While this no-build zone applies only to Maine's largest wind company, SunEdison, FMM thinks it sends a strong message to other wind developers: back off. 

-  $250,000 will be dedicated to research wind turbine bat deterrent technology.  The grant will go to Bat Conservation International, which is conducting research on the brown bat species, which has been threatened in the northeast by white-nose syndrome. 

-  SunEdison has increased by 50% the decommissioning fund that it had to set aside for the Bingham Wind Project. Moreover, in years 5, 10, and 15 the fund must be re-evaluated and will be increased by at least 1.5% in each of those years.  During the permitting process in 2014, FMM had objected to what we determined was an inadequate decommissioning fund being imposed by DEP under the terms of the permit.

Again, FMM was not pleased to see the Bingham Wind Project proceed, but we hope that the provisions of this agreement will soften the blow for Maine.  It has been an arduous process but we finally have it finished, so now we can devote our full attention to our mission.  

On behalf of FMM Directors Brad Blake, Bob Hale, Gary Steinberg, Tom Hinman, and myself, I publicly thank Chris O'Neil for putting all this together, and I thank you for your continued support of FMM!

Yours truly,


For a complete list of the conservation projects click here.

For the full press release click here.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains contact: 

Chris O’Neil

(207) 590-3842



Below are statements from the beneficiary conservation organizations: 

“These funds come at a critical time when important conservation work is underway. They will help advance efforts not only to conserve key forestland and habitat, but also improve access and the opportunities for everyone to experience remarkable Maine landscapes,” said Wolfe Tone, The Trust for Public Lands Maine state director. “We thank the partners involved for the dedication and commitment to create a positive result.” (Click here for TPL project descriptions.)
Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust is pleased that these funds have been made available for our work in protecting lands along the Appalachian Trail in Maine,” said Simon Rucker, executive director of the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust.  “For the A.T. community in Maine, the agreement that SunEdison will not build or expand wind projects in sections of the State of Maine, including a 15 mile exclusion zone on either side of nearly all of the Appalachian Trail and Baxter State Park, is excellent news.” (Click here for MATLT project descriptions.)
 The Appalachian Mountain Club is pleased that its projects to directly benefit Maine’s natural resources and the recreating public in the 100-Mile Wilderness region were selected for funding,” said Walter Graff, senior vice president of the AMC.  “The funds will allow AMC to make tangible on-the-ground improvements by restoring trout habitat, and providing the public with improved recreational access through building new trails and connecting regional conservation lands.” (Click here for AMC project descriptions.)
“These funds will support a project that will conserve thousands of acres of high elevation lands around Whitecap Mountain, that are adjacent to 11 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and that include high-elevation, cold-water streams that are essential for brook trout and Atlantic salmon habitat in the West Branch of the Pleasant River.  This will be a wonderful gift to future generations!” said Alan Hutchinson, Forest Society of Maine executive director. (Click here for FSM project descriptions.)
“This funding will help the Atlantic Salmon Federation open up nine miles of cold water tributary streams in the Piscataquis River for the benefit of salmon and brook trout,” said Andrew Goode, Atlantic Salmon Federation’s vice president. “Restoration of the larger Penobscot River has been the top priority of the Atlantic Salmon Federation for the past 15 years and this is an exciting next step in our restoration efforts. Thank you to SunEdison and Friends of Maine’s Mountains.”  (Click here for ASF project description.)
The Mahoosuc Land Trust is very pleased to receive funding from SunEdison and the Friends of Maine’s Mountains. The grant will help connect two critical habitats, the Ellis River Valley and Rumford Whitecap Mountain,” said Jim Mitchell, Mahoosuc Land Trust’s executive director. “This connection is especially important for wildlife in a time of changing climate.  The project protects more than two miles of frontage on the Ellis River and provides outdoor recreation opportunities to residents and visitors in Western Maine.” (Click here for MLT project description.)


Wind fables seduce, but Maine facts reveal HUGE WASTE

Why our well-intended policies are causing more harm than good

By Chris O'Neil, Special to the BDN

Last Tuesday, Sept. 8, the New England electricity grid system operator (ISO-NE) had a terrible day. What played out Tuesday (and dozens of other days, especially in summer and winter) is a glaring example of our feel-good energy policies leading to catastrophic results.

Temperatures were in the high 80s all over New England Tuesday. The ISO-NE projected a peak load (demand) of 24,000 megawatts per hour (MWH) for the day. We sprinted past that number at noon. While spot prices started the day under $30 per MWH they topped $1,000 before we finished lunch (that’s the difference between 3 cents per KWH and $1 per KWH)! Immediately ISO-NE went to Alert 2 status for the remainder of the day. This is when factories are asked by the grid to close up shop and send workers home. It is also when idle coal and oil plants fire up. The fiasco lasted until past 7 p.m.

New England has about 750 MW of wind capacity. We have about 850 MW of solar capacity, almost all of which is on rooftops where owners are able to sell their excess power to the grid. That combined 1,600 MW, an “investment” of at least $4 billion, wasn’t able to contribute even half of 1 percent of load Tuesday. It never exceeded 50 MWH all day, and at 5 p.m. when the sun was still intense and load was at daily peak, solar was contributing zero. (When the temperature gets hot, solar owners turn up their air conditioning so there is no power left for them to send to the grid.)

The billions New England wasted in the last decade on unsustainable feel-good generation assets were the same billions that should have been invested in critical, dependable, clean energy infrastructure. Specifically, our natural gastransmission constraints and our lack of access to large-scale Canadian hydronow stand as tragic examples of our grossly negligent misappropriation of resources.

The result of our negligence? While a few years ago we had almost entirely gotten off oil and coal, in the last three years we have quadrupled our burning of dirty oil for electricity generation. Why? Because when the power is needed on hot or cold days, all the region’s natural gas is being used by homes and businesses. Just 200 miles north of the world’s richest gas fields and lowest gas prices, we cannot get enough gas to run the dozens of new clean electric plants we bought to replace the coal and oil plants.

But shouldn’t Maine do its part to save the planet? Remember, only two statesin the nation have electric sectors that emit less CO2 than Maine. Maine has thehighest renewable portfolio standard in America, and in 2012 more than 99 percent of Maine generation was from clean sources other than oil and coal. But our unsustainable energy policy is now increasing rates, taxes and pollution. Amazingly, transportation accounts for almost five times more CO2 in Maine than electricity does. Yet, our Legislature raised the Interstate 95 speed limits while passing incentives for wind developers.

This is why Maine is increasingly getting dirty emissions from southern New England’s old plants. The absurdly high peak electric rates are unnecessarily bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars from Maine’s economy, and billions from New England’s economy. Scarce tax dollars funnel to wealthy wind developers, and vast expanses of Maine are slated to be industrialized with 50-story turbines.

But looking at those majestic white turbines on Maine mountains makes people in Massachusetts and Connecticut feel good.

Wind energy, as evident in Tuesday’s two-tenths of 1 percent contribution to load, cannot replace or even materially displace conventional grid generation.

Feel-good energy policy looks like this, and it is a major reason we are foolhardy to destroy our mountains with useless, unnecessary, unaffordable, unsustainable wind plants. If wind energy’s positive benefits could actually exceed its negative impacts, then maybe a few mountains could justifiably be destroyed. But we know otherwise.

The Friends of Maine’s Mountains mission is to educate the public about how destructive this feel-good policy is. Maine’s economy and environment are too important to squander.

Chris O’Neil is vice president of Public Affairs at Friends of Maine’s Mountains.

CAN'T STOP US: Friends and Allies continue Maine’s fight

Friends of Maine’s Mountains, as well as its many Allies throughout this gorgeous state, continue to fight the irrational, knee-jerk impulse to believe that “wind energy” is not an elaborate chase for subsidy (cold hard cash.) It absolutely is, and you can find out why HERE.

When you take a strong position, you take shots. And yet we ARE making progress, despite taking pot shots from all sides. (Thanks, Suze Orman, this column was very helpful!) You want proof that FMM and its allies are resilient and will continue to persevere? Check out THIS story from MPBN’s A.J. Higgins. We continue the fight, no matter the odds:

A.J. Higgins reports on a bill that would make major changes to Maine's wind power policies.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The future of wind energy in Maine is up in the air, as lawmakers consider a comprehensive bill that would ease the state's original goals for wind energy generation. Republican Rep. Beth O'Connor says her bill provides the kind of changes that are long overdue for opponents of wind turbine farms who feel their concerns are ignored. But supporters of wind power say O'Connor's bill threatens clean energy initiatives and Maine jobs.

CLICK HERE for full story by A.J. Higgins and Maine Public Radio.

CLIMBING EVEREST: 62,000 signatures and several million dollars

Our network should know about an important meeting on May 2. As you recall, FMM’s longtime supporter Dan Remian has been working on a statewide referendum campaign that seeks changes to the Wind Law. Saving Maine has teamed up with Dan to host an informational meeting in Freeport that you might want to attend. There’s no information about the meeting on the Saving Maine web site, and they appear not to have a Facebook page or Twitter account, but if you drop us a line at MaineMountainFriends@gmail.com, we’ll be happy to forward you the invitation.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains’nonprofit tax status prohibits us from engaging in political activity, but we plan to be there. For the better part of a year now, with Dan leading the valliant charge, a major Saving Maine priority has been gathering signatures on an initiative to amend the 2008 Wind Act. They need 62,000 signatures to get this initiative on the 2016 ballot, so it’ll be very exciting to hear how much progress their effort has made. Given that the deadline is just a few months away, by this point they’re more than likely just a few thousand short.

Of course getting the signatures is the easy part. There will be major political challenges in convincing voters that the Legislature can make the referendum work if passed. And as anyone who has ever worked on a referendum campaign knows (bear-baiting, casinos, etc.), it’s all about the TV buy. To win, you must be equipped to do battle on TV. You’ve got to have a great message, and you have to buy enough gross rating points to compete with the several million dollars that the industrial wind developers will hurl at the defeat of this measure. So, more than the report on signatures, the fundraising report on May 2 will be very indicative of the real chances for success. Again, we can’t engage in political activity, but here’s what FMM has done to pitch in:

  • In 2014, we helped publicize the launch of Saving Maine. (HERE”S THE LINK.)
  • Also in 2014, we held our Annual Wind Forum in Freeport, at which the Saving Maine petition was discussed in detail. (YOUTUBE EXCERPT HERE.)
  • We offered an ongoing publishing opportunity to any wind opponent. (HERE’S THE LINK.)
  • We published a guest column, “Change the wind law.” (HERE’S THE LINK.)
  • We created the online links to the petition that Saving Maine is using liberally on its web page. (HERE’S THE LINK.)

Saving Maine’s ambition is exciting. We wish them the very best, and we’re looking forward to the May 2 progress reports. While they champion a winning referendum campaign, FMM will complement their effort by continuing our education mission at the Maine Legislature, at the regulatory agencies, with the media, and online with continued publishing about why industrial wind is such a bad idea.