INEXCUSABLE: Corruption in Maine exposed

How humiliating. Lucky for Jeremy Payne that his  interview was on radio, not TV, so nobody could see him sweating like Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential debates.. Shall we explain?

On the very same day that Mr. Payne, president of the Maine Renewable Energy Association, appeared on a radio show to brag about a new “study” his group has bought and paid for, an independent media outlet was explaining --- in excruciating detail --- how Payne and his cronies have bought and paid for the Maine Legislature. (OUCH.)

Payne was on Bangor radio station WZON yesterday morning, January 7th, promoting a “study” concocted by a man noted for his ineptness in THIS NEWS ARTICLE. (You can hear the full interview with Payne at THIS LINK.) The study claims to detail how much money the wind industry spends in Maine, right down to the last Burger King hamburger purchased at the Kennebunk exit of the Maine Turnpike. (Yes, the “study” is truly THAT pathetic.) Isn't it remarkable how every time wind lobbyists start to feel the heat, they miraculously produce a rosy study (paid for with tax tax subsidies extracted from YOUR pocket) blathering on about how much money they spend? Unfortunately for them, Maine taxpayers and electricity ratepayers are catching on. 

The press is catching on, too.

At the very hour Payne was spinning PR fairy tales on WZON, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting was publishing its own study, aptly entitled “A study in how special interests get their way in the Maine Legislature.“ (OUCH.) You can read the FULL ARTICLE HERE. Payne figures prominently in the story, and according to the article, he appears to be a central figure in a corrupt process that funnels money to legislators in exchange for profoundly favorable treatment in the lawmaking process. (As an example, consider this excerpt: “The story of how the wind industry’s problem was taken up by Senate President Alfond, D-Portland, and his staff demonstrates a deep level of coordination between special interests and legislative leaders that often leaves citizens on the sidelines of the democratic process.”) (OUCH AGAIN.)

(We responded to Mr. Payne this morning on WZON Radio: AUDIO LINK HERE.)

In a world in which Payne’s paymasters silence media outlets like MPBN (link) and environmental groups like Maine Audubon (link) with large corporate contributions (Hey, why not? --- greasing palms works in the Maine Legislature), thank goodness for the work of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. If you take the time to read the FULL ARTICLE HERE, and visit all the links within the story, we guarantee that you will be revolted by what they have discovered. For instance, there are 178 pages of e-mails and documents at THIS LINK that document incestuous relationships and unbelievably blunt exchanges between wind lobbyists and legislative power brokers. The purpose? To put money in the pockets of wind speculators, at the expense of YOU, the Maine taxpayer and electricity ratepayer!

If you take the time to read this article and all the e-mails, please mention your disgust to your local state rep or state senator the next time you run in to him/her at the grocery store. We will certainly be doing the same.

As light bills skyrocket, Mainers will revolt

Click HERE for 20 Facts Every Mainer Should Know, which we just updated today. It’s information about wind power in Maine, but without the political correctness and “green gobbledygook” from the spin doctors who are trying to pocket your tax dollars and raise your electric rates. The “20 Facts” are important, and this excerpt today from a Bangor Daily News article explains why:

Opponents of wind projects at the local and state levels continued to pose regulatory challenges to new projects through appeals that have risen to the state’s top court, which has clarified parts of the state’s regulatory appeals process.

That’s right, folks. Our effort is making a difference, and we intend to continue our education effort in 2015. And here’s why we must do this, as explained by the very same BDN reporter in the same article:

Electricity prices around the region shot up. Power prices have risen for small-business customers in Maine and residential customers in other New England states, all of which share a power grid. Similar increases are expected to hit Maine’s residential power customers in March.

Drastically higher electric rates, without doing anything to get Maine off oil. That’s what wind turbines do for Maine. We don’t think Mainers will stand for it, especially after they read "20 Facts.” 

FMM Fan Mail

Here at FMM we get lots of praise from supporters who appreciate the good work we do in protecting Maine’s economy and environment.  But we get some unfriendly mail too, as well as some fair inquiry.  Check out the note we recently received, and the exchange that followed it:

“Hello friends of fossil energy.  Say hi to the Koch brothers, or, at least, their bag man.”

FMM:  Dear Mr. _____

Please look a little closer.  Just because FMM opposes grid scale wind energy does not mean that FMM favors “fossil energy.” 

Thank you.  FMM

“What do you favor in regard to energy?”

FMM: 

Hello Mr. ____

Good question. We often discuss "energy" and electricity separately.  For overall energy, that which is the best balance of clean, affordable, and sustainable.  

Specifically for electricity, the same, although electricity generation in Maine is light years ahead of overall energy.  For instance, Maine CO2 emissions from Transportation are about half of all Maine CO2 emissions. That is four times as much CO2 as from Electricity. 

In answer to your question, and as it concerns electricity, we ask why so many people presume that massive change is needed.  Maine's electricity CO2 is third least in America, and the Maine Renewable Portfolio Standard is the highest in the nation. 99% of Maine electricity generation is from clean sources other than coal and oil.  

Wind does nothing to replace or even displace conventional generation.  If we want to help close dirty coal and oil plants elsewhere, it cannot be done with wind, which has the dual fatal flaws: intermittent and unpredictable. Higher-quality tidal energy for instance is intermittent, but it is entirely predictable.  Many higher quality renewables could do the job, and indeed they do.  

In short, Maine wind energy is not sustainable, useful or necessary. It is expensive and it requires expensive transmission infrastructure too. Its impacts far exceed its benefits, so it should be avoided.

Thank you for taking the time to ask.   FMM

Gov. LePage disabled offshore wind by scaring off Statoil.You still aren’t being specific about sources you would find acceptable.”

FMM: 

Hello Mr. _____

You asked:  "You still aren’t being specific about sources you would find acceptable."  

To repeat, we find "acceptable" that which is clean, affordable, sustainable, useful, and necessary.  One might argue that wind is somewhat clean, but it falls short of the other criteria. 

Your question presupposes that we want or need to drastically change that which we have. What we have is excellent. Unfortunately Maine Yankee is gone, but Maine, as noted earlier, adapted well to that loss. Your question and apparent premise is like asking the Patriots' coach who he wants for a quarterback.  He's likely to reply that he's pretty satisfied with Tom Brady.

As for Statoil, FMM was pleased that they abandoned Maine (whether they were "scared off" or not).  Their “research” project was not useful, necessary, sustainable, or affordable.  The above market rates they were awarded by a PUC mandate were five times the market rate -- for a tiny amount of low quality electricity. One of the world's largest oil companies, Statoil pours plenty of its own money into R&D where it thinks it can realize a return. Statoil did not need to get a $200 million gift from the working people of Maine, and their retreat proved that they would not have “invested” their own money in the project, probably because there was obviously no return on investment. 

Thanks again for your interest.

FMM

NEWSFLASH: paper spikes political correctness on wind energy

Too bad this is news, but it is; and to honor the occasion we might have to petition the Governor to declare a state holiday.

The industrial wind turbine industry has taken a serious body blow....is maine's press corps finally taking a critical look underneath the hood?

The industrial wind turbine industry has taken a serious body blow....is maine's press corps finally taking a critical look underneath the hood?

One of Maine’s venerable newspapers, The Ellsworth American, has abandoned pack journalism and political correctness, and instead has introduced some critical thinking to the debate on wind energy in Maine. It has published an editorial this week that actually expresses skepticism about wind industry subsidies, which, in the world of Maine media, is practically unheard of.

So badly do Maine reporters want to “believe in green,” so skilled has the industry PR machine been, and so compromising have been their donations to organizations like MPBN (link) and Maine Audubon (link), that true analytical thinking has been largely absent from Maine newspapers and airwaves. Until this week, that is, when the Ellsworth American aimed a bright light on some inconvenient truths about the wind industry in Maine:

“Since Maine’s wind energy act became law in 2008, the energy playing field has been tilted sharply in favor of wind developers and against the state’s citizens and the environment in which they live.” And more:

“Maine — and the nation — have had ample time to realize that the wind industry has never fulfilled its promise in the three decades since state and federal governments began doling out tax credits and subsidies. The industry continues to claim it needs special consideration and taxpayer support, even as developers have tucked millions upon millions of dollars into their own pockets.”

Friends of Maine’s Mountains has been pointing out the media’s penchant for ignoring stories that are critical of, or damage to, the wind industry. We’ve had media in Massachusetts (link) and Hawaii (link) cover wind energy setbacks here in Maine that reporters here in the state refused to cover. The Ellsworth American’s editorial, along with previous excellent reporting by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, may indicate that at long last, the free ride in the media that the wind industry has always enjoyed may be coming to an end. And speaking of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, the following are some excerpts, for those who haven’t read them yet, by reporter Naomi Schalit.

DAMNING EXCERPT: While he was Maine’s chief utilities regulator, Kurt Adams accepted an ownership interest in a leading wind energy company. One month later, in May 2008, he went to work for that company, First Wind, as a senior vice president. The move from a state job to the private sector richly rewarded Adams: A "summary compensation table" in a recent SEC filing shows that Adams's 2009 compensation of $1.3 million included $315,000 in salary, $658,000 in stock awards, $29,000 of "other" compensation and $315,000 in "non-equity incentives." Full article, “PUC chairman took equity stake in wind company,” at this link.

DAMNING EXCERPT: Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met – the number is likely to be at least 1,000 and perhaps as high as 2,000. Instead, they got carried along in the wave of enthusiasm that emerged from the administration, the legislative committee, wind power developers and the governor’s task force. “Wind power was exciting,” says Pingree. “I think legislators had a sense we wanted to be bold and have the state be a real leader in this area -- they may not have known how many turbines, or the challenges of siting that many turbines.” Full article, “Wind-swept task force set the rules,” at this link.

DAMNING EXCERPT: There was never a mandate for the task force to examine the relative merits of wind power development in Maine. Instead, members started from the assumption that wind power should be developed in Maine, and the sooner, the better. Full article, “Wind power bandwagon hits bump in the road,” at this link.

Today's wind news with MAJOR implications for Maine

“…(O)pponents of large-scale wind development said it was built too close to homes. And neighbors say they suffer at times from repetitive noises and vibrations that disrupt sleep, trigger health problems and erode the quality of island life.”

Portland Press Herald, FULL STORY

“…(T)he wind turbines that Anbaric and National Grid plan to tap in northern Maine have not yet been built because no transmission project has been approved.”

Boston Globe, FULL STORY

GUEST COLUMN: “Change the wind law”

Editor’s Note: Friends of Maine Mountains announced last month that here on this blog space, we will publish factual information and videos from anti-wind activists all across Maine and the world, upon request. This guest column by Dan Remian is the first that we have received, and we are pleased to publish his work in this forum. If you are interested in submitting, please make your submission at mainemountainfriends@gmail.com.

Important Information on the Statewide Referendum

Background

In 2007, America was entangled in war with Iraq. Facing high oil and gasoline prices at home, Governor John Baldacci was concerned for Maine's energy future. In the preceding few years, three grid-scale wind energy projects were proposed under Maine’s site location permitting process. Two projects (Mars Hill and Kibby) were approved; the third was fraught with problems and so it was denied. In all three cases, Maine’s traditional permitting process worked, but potential wind developers were unhappy about the case that was denied. 

Wind developers and well-intentioned conservation groups saw an opportunity.  Together they urged Baldacci to assemble a task force that would make permitting easier for wind energy applicants, made urgent by the world’s political and economic oil crisis. Energy experts were skeptical about the charge, pointing out that Maine had already “gotten off oil” for electricity generation purposes, and that, despite popular opinion,  wind energy was in fact low benefit and high impact.

The task force was dominated by people with strong ties to the wind industry. Their “solution” to the oil crisis/wind opposition “problem” was to provide a special zoning and permitting process for wind energy projects: Maine's Wind Law. It passed without debate by unanimous votes in the House and Senate. With the stroke of Baldacci’s pen in 2008, the red carpet was rolled out for a level of rural industrial development that was unprecedented in the Maine history.

The Wind Law is so slanted in favor of the wind developers and so slanted against the citizens of Maine that the Maine Office of Energy and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection have recommended that the law be modified. In over 20 attempts, frustrated citizens and conservation groups have gone to Augusta submitting bills to modify the law -- but the legislature has refused to even consider them. 

This is why there is a Citizens Initiative! The official title of the Citizens Initiative (CI) is: 

AN ACT TO REPEAL AND AMEND SECTIONS OF THE EXPEDITED WIND ENERGY ACT TO CHANGE THE PERMITTING CRITERIA  FOR WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT


This is not a wholesale repeal of the Wind Energy Act. The CI will simply level the playing field and restore citizens' rights. If approved by Maine voters, the law as amended by the CI will:

  1. Eliminate the special expedited permitting process that is destroying many of Maine’s most valuable natural areas
  2. Leave in place a Wind Law that is fair, that will not prevent wind development and that will allow wind project permitting decisions to be based on science and empirical evidence.
  3. Restore to citizens who live in 2/3 of the State their voice in local wind project permitting
  4. Restore the right of Maine citizens to appeal wind energy permitting decisions in Superior Court
  5. Eliminate arbitrary and unreasonable wind energy goals that create artificial demand and disrupt free markets
  6. Require a wind developer to obtain a Public Benefit Determination:
  • proving that Maine needs the additional electricity generation;
  • proving that the electricity generated by Maine wind facilities will be for the benefit of Maine citizens;
  • proving that turbine noise emissions meet American National Standards Institute criteria;
  • that includes a bond to cover 100% of the cost of decommissioning the turbines and restoring the landscape when the project is no longer viable.

7. Challenge assumptions in the Wind Law that as a result of wind development:

  • fossil fuel energy facilities will be closed;
  • we will achieve energy independence by reducing our use of foreign oil;
  • our CO2 emissions will decline and climate change will be controlled;
  • wind energy will have only positive benefits for our health and environment.

What We Need To Do

A CI relies on citizen support for passage. If we get enough signatures the petition will go to the Legislature for consideration. The Legislature may choose to enact it or send it to the voters as a ballot measure. The first step was getting Secretary of State approval of the petition language. That step is complete and Maine citizens can now sign the petition that is being circulated. Click here to see the petition.

We need to gather over 50,000 signatures. That's where I hope you will help. Please help us by pledging to collect a certain number of signatures. How many do you think you can get?  5?  50?  500?  Can you ask other concerned citizens to collect signatures too? 

You may have noticed that as more and more of these projects are built, the public's attitude has shifted against the wind developers. We are finding citizens eager to sign petitions. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to collect signatures.

A person collecting signatures is known as a Circulator. Both Circulators and signers must be Maine residents registered to vote in Maine. The rest is as easy as signing your name.  If you’re ready to help I can provide you with everything you need to know.

We want the CI on the November 2015 Ballot. Our deadline to collect all the necessary signatures is January 22, 2015. This is urgent, so contact me today if you can help.

As always, thank you for pitching in to protect Maine's environment and economy.

Dan Remain, Cushing, ME, (207) 354-0714,Email  N7CD@gwi.net

EASY, SO EASY --- that's what this is for you

How’d you like to help us arrange a funeral for the Production Tax Credit (PTC)?

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
— Author Unknown

As you probably know already, the PTC is a terrible tax policy that “has fostered a rush of developers who are rewarded for siting turbines on every free acre that has or might get transmission access, no matter who is in the way and no matter the cost to citizens.” It’s time to kill the PTC.

Many of you will be getting an e-mail soon, sent via Constant Contact, from Friends of Maine’s Mountains. It will be a copy of a letter we are sending to U.S. Senators King and Collins, and U.S. Representatives Pingree and Michaud, asking them not to renew the PTC. You’ll be able to “sign” the letter by reply e-mail to us. (If you’re not on our list but you’d like to receive this, please drop a quick note to mainemountainfriends@gmail.com). Once we collect all the signatures, we will facilitate their delivery to Congress.

You oppose industrial wind factories on the tops of Maine’s beautiful mountain ranges? This is an EASY way for you to pitch in. If you'd like to read the letter, CLICK HERE. Happy Thanksgiving.

“Everyone has a stake in thwarting bunko schemes of such enormity”

At its annual summit earlier this month, Friends of Maine's Mountains (FMM) rallied several anti-wind organizations together and also welcomed Jon Boone as keynote speaker, just a few days after the election in which the wind industry had bet heavily on the wrong gubernatorial candidate, as we explained in THIS previous blog post.)

Mr. Boone pulled no punches. He is a resident of Maryland, an author and former university administrator, someone who has thought very deeply about the “get rich quick” aspects of government’s rush to prop up industrial wind speculators with steep subsidies and ratepayer increases. He is the founder of Stop Ill Wind, and one of the earliest American leaders in the fight against industrial wind power. His presentation was entitled, “Energy, Power, Productivity: Why Wind Represents Dysfunctional Technology.” If you’d like to watch the tail end of his presentation CLICK HERE, but he summed it all up very nicely with one simple sentence, “Everyone has a stake in thwarting bunko schemes of such enormity.”

As part of its educational mission, the reason our organization was formed several years ago, Friends of Maine’s Mountains gathers concerned citizens from around the state every November to discuss ways to protect Maine's environment and economy from the impacts of industrial wind power. In addition to Boone, attendees this year enjoyed presentations from the group that is planning a statewide referendum on wind power, ratepayer advocates, opponents to various wind developments, and conservation organizations. This was one of the best conferences yet, and we hope next year’s will be even better. Maybe we’ll see you there, to compare notes on the fierce and effective opposition that all of us expect to deploy in the next 12 months. As this year’s attendees surely agree, it is vital that all of us continue to organize, inform, cooperate, collaborate and communicate.

Kvetch & complain, or achieve & accomplish?

What are YOU personally more likely to do? If it’s the latter, then maybe we can help.

If you have something to say, we can help.

If you have something to say, we can help.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains is an educational organization, but we’re not afraid to be aggressive if the situation calls for it. When it’s time to act, that’s what we try to do. CLICK HERE for a link to one recent example. Let’s give you another example. This space, the one in which we are now communicating with you, is our blog. It functions as both the FMM newspaper and the FMM television station. It attracts thousands of visitors in any given month. What’s published here is followed by reporters, by legislators, and the general public. And what’s more, our network continues to grow as we publish more and more fresh material about the economic Ponzi scheme known as “industrial wind.”

One of the most common complaints we hear is that the media won’t publish your side of the story. So guess what? We’ll publish it. That’s right, folks. You have news that’s not being covered? We’ll cover it. You want to put together a video and have it reach a decent-sized audience? We’ll put you “on the air.”

Action is the foundational key to all success.
— Pablo Picasso

Google “wind opposition Maine” and you’ll see that FMM is one of the first search results that pop up. That’s why most of the reporters covering the recent sale of First Wind came looking for Friends of Maine’s Mountains when they needed an authoritative quote from the opposition. (Reporters Google, too, you know!)

So it occurred to us --- if we have this access, why not give YOU access to our growing network? We know there is a lot of expertise and wisdom out there, and we figure the citizens of Maine should be able to tap into your wisdom. Whaddya say, game to give it a shot? Great. Here are some basic guidelines.

  • Alert us by dropping an e-mail to: fmmpressoffice@gmail.com.
  • Be receptive, please, to suggested edits that improve the piece.
  • When writing a blog entry, try to keep it to 3 or 4 paragraphs.
  • When producing a video, try to keep finished product between 1-3 minutes.
  • If you have raw video that you’re not sure how to edit, we will consider providing those services.
  • In all cases we will credit the writer/producer, happily. However, if you would rather contribute anonymously, be sure to make that clear.
  • It’s OK to be tough. But we ask that you be as professional as possible, and as factual as possible.
  • Especially when writing blog posts, try to supply as many supporting Internet links as possible, and photographs. It’s always best to create the most informative piece possible, and that includes documentation. Readers like to verify.
  • For large files, especially video, alert us ahead of time at fmmpressoffice@gmail.com, and we’ll set up a file transfer protocol which will make things easier.

You say the media is not covering your story? Remember, things have changed, and this applies now to all of us: WE ARE THE MEDIA. SO PUBLISH…and achieve.