Maine, you’re an eyewitness to a train wreck

Business reporter Darren Fishell at the Bangor Daily News wrote earlier today that, “The corporate subsidy watchdog agency Good Jobs First found Central Maine Power Co. parent company Iberdrola topped the list of all recipients of federal grants and tax credits, primarily in tax credits for its renewable energy developments.” Here’s a link to the FULL STORY.

Why does that matter to you, the Maine electricity ratepayer and taxpayer? Iberdrola is a Spanish company. Now that you know, we present you with this “executive summary” of what blowing up the tops of Maine’s scenic mountains to build industrial wind factories is all about.

  • The wind peddlers use federal subsidies, ratepayer subsidies and “expedited” permitting to build the turbines. They reach into YOUR pockets.
  • The turbines directly and negatively impact one of Maine’s most important industries, tourism.
  • The huge turbines operate only 25% of the time, because that’s how often the wind blows at required velocities in Maine.
  • Because these turbines DON’T generate electricity 75% of the time, they do NOTHING to get Maine off fossil fuels. Conventional electricity power plants driven by fossil fuels must stay on line and keep the region’s electricity grid stable when the wind turbines, most of the time, are not producing electricity.
  • Nevertheless, transmission lines must be built from the remote mountain turbines, so companies like Iberdrola charge Maine people for the cost of building these lines.
  • Your electric rates skyrocket.
  • Here’s the kicker. The transmission lines send the electricity to Massachusetts and Connecticut (not to Maine customers), so those states can claim they’re using “renewable energy.” Maine benefits not all.

So there’s your crash course in Wind Power Economics 101. You pay, the U.S. sends money and profits to Spain, and not a single climate problem gets solved.

Press release from Friends of Maine's Mountains

Bingham Wind project: opponents concerned about decommissioning costs

(Portland, Maine) The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) posted its draft recommendation today on the Bingham Wind Project appeal.

The Board packet materials for the March 5, 2015 meeting (including the staff recommendation / Draft Board Order) are now posted on the Board’s webpage at www.maine.gov/dep/bep under the March 5 Agenda. On March 5 the BEP will hear oral arguments. 

Friends of Maine's Mountains (FMM) has opposed the project for more than two years two years. The Department of Environmental Protection granted the license, and FMM promptly filed the appeal last fall when First Wind's financial future was cloudy.

“We’re not surprised to see the DEP staff defending their original decision,” said Rand Stowell, a member of the FMM board of directors. “Even though it is a rare occurrence, we hope that the BEP will overturn the decision. But if they won't overturn it, at the very least we would like to see some stricter conditions placed on the permit.”

Stowell conceded that it is difficult to win an appeal Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court, but held open the possibility that FMM will appeal if the BEP gives the project a green light.

“We’d like to see much tougher standards on the question of decommissioning wind turbines when they’ve exhausted their useful life. We find that, generally, this issue does not get astute consideration from policy makers,” Stowell said.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM) is an non-profit educational organization that raises awareness of the destructive toll that industrial wind turbines inflict on Maine’s precious and finite mountain areas. For more information, www.FriendsOfMainesMountains.org.

Destroying Maine's mountains AND raising the speed limit

Some things, when you take the time to fully consider context, don't make any sense at all.

Adam Lee.

Adam Lee.

As an example, Adam Lee generously commits his time, talent, and treasure to many good causes. He has served on the boards of Maine Public Broadcasting, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Audubon and Maine Conservation Voters. These are four vocal supporters of Big Wind (possibly because they are also FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED BY Big Wind). Whether he intended it or not, Mr. Lee’s philanthropy has promoted industrial wind complex development for the intended noble cause of reducing CO2 emissions.

He is also the biggest car salesman in Maine.  

So Mr. Lee is closely tied to Maine's worst CO2 emissions source - Transportation. (According to the EPA, Maine's Transportation sector is responsible for almost 5 TIMES MORE CO2 than the Electricity Generation sector.)  

Did anyone hear a peep from Mr. Lee and all those Big Wind cheerleading organizations two years ago when, without debate or even a single NO vote, the Legislature increased the speed limit on I-95?  

Not that Mr. Lee is pro CO2 … in fact he has long called upon Congress to increase CAFE standards for car manufacturers.  No, this is an ironic tale about lawmakers making ill-informed, misguided, feel-good policy decisions.  Decisions that can have massive negative impacts.

New Legislature: Best Wishes, Hope, and a Request

Since 2007, Maine, for the noble cause of reducing CO2, has been falling all over itself spending more than a Billion dollars on mountain wind energy complexes (and spending a lot more on the transmission buildup).

This costly and unnecessary infrastructure adds essentially nothing to the grid, and it has not shown any reduction in CO2. Yet our profligate spending on ineffective wind energy has transpired while we've concurrently neglected critical energy infrastructure investments in gas pipelines and Canadian hydro. It felt good for a while, but now it is starting to sting.

If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we ‘d all be driving $25 cars that get 1000 MPG
— Bill Gates

Those two infrastructure deficiencies matter a lot. No, gas and hydro aren’t as cute as wind energy, but they work and we need them. They are clean. Affordable. And our neglect of them is now bleeding Billions from the New England economy via spiraling rates while adding insult to injury: we now are burning more oil and more coal, when only a few years ago we had essentially “gotten off of” oil and coal. This has clearly proven to be a grossly negligent and harmful misallocation of resources. 

What not to do if we’re concerned about CO2

In the most recent year of EPA data (2012) Electricity Generation accounted for only 10.8% of Maine's CO2 emissions.  But Transportation CO2 was responsible for a whopping 50.1% of Maine CO2 output. See the spreadsheet analysis of data downloaded from the EPA's website. 

Click here to see how much more gasoline we burn (and how much more CO2 we belch out) when we drive at high speeds.   

So Maine’s Transportation Sector is responsible for almost FIVE TIMES MORE CO2 than our Electricity Sector. Despite this fact, recent Maine Legislatures have rolled out every possible red carpet for expensive, unnecessary, unsustainable wind energy, which doesn’t move the needle. Yet two years ago Maine legislators unanimously passed a bill that raised highway speed limits. They didn’t even debate it!

If the roof on your house is caving in, buy a bird bath?

When in 2012, coal and oil combined were only 4% of New England electricity generation, and less than 1% of Maine generation, today our deficiencies in gas pipeline / Canadian hydro infrastructure result in coal and oil churning out 4 to 6 times more electricity, at great cost, and the dirty air blows to Maine. It's truly a lose-lose. 

On most days this winter the grid operator’s ISO-NE dashboard shows that coal and oil are generating up to 20% of New England’s electricity. Because of our pipeline deficiency, natural gas is regularly being reduced from its usual 50% to as low as 30%. While this is happening, New England's $2 Billion wind "investment" is usually generating only about 1% of New England’s load, oftentimes when there is no demand. 

So why are we going backwards?

Why are we increasing our reliance on the dirty expensive stuff?  It is the result of our grossly negligent misallocation of resources. Spending Billions on wind infrastructure when we should have been planning for +5000 megawatts of coming power plant retirements. Base load and peak load plants that can only be replaced by firm generation (like gas and hydro). It's like a homeowner spending the paycheck on patio furniture when the roof is leaking.    

The electricity sectors of only two states, Vermont and Idaho, emit less CO2 than Maine. Maine has the #1 highest Renewable Portfolio Standard in the nation. We’ve shown the world how to get off oil and coal. So let's stop beating ourselves up about "doing our part," fouling our wild areas with industrial wind complexes that are neither necessary nor useful, while bleeding Billions from our economy.  

While a lot of people felt good (and a few people got rich) when Maine jumped headlong into wind energy, it has turned out to be a terribly misguided policy direction.

What can we do?

Friends of Maine’s Mountains urges the new Legislature to scrutinize feel-good proposals, to think critically over the next two years, and to work for sensible policies that benefit our environment and our economy. 

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