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Please check this home page and blog for the latest news, or subscribe to our RSS feed. Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM) is the leading opponent of senseless industrial wind projects that destroy our state’s scenic assets, especially if those projects INCREASE the light bills for working Mainers.

Pigs at the trough: what happens without sweeteners?

Apparently pigs love treats, especially sugar-coated doughnuts.

Apparently pigs love treats, especially sugar-coated doughnuts.

This article spells it out very well. The pigs run away as fast as they can.

While more than 12,000 megawatts’ worth of new wind power was installed in 2012, fewer than 2,000 new megawatts were just a year later. The reason: Investors rightly predicted the production tax credit would not be renewed by Congress…
— U.S. News & World Report

In case this is not yet clear to everybody, industrial wind development in Maine is not about “green” energy and saving the planet, it’s all about the race for public money. The feds and state legislatures hand out sugar-coated subsidies (your money) to entice developers to build wind turbines. Developers race to pocket that money but ONLY UNTIL the free money runs out. Then they scatter.

As a result, the light bills of Maine ratepayers go up, because we have to pay for the new transmission lines to deliver electricity to Massachusetts and Connecticut from industrial turbines that only operate 25% of the time here in Maine. In other words, since they need back-up from conventional power plants, these turbines DO NOTHING to reduce Maine’s fossil fuel consumption. THIS MAKES NO SENSE! Click here for the full article by U.S. News & World Report, published July 17, 2014.

We think U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) makes a pretty good point“(The wind tax credit) should go. Hell, your mother only carried you nine months.”

Read into it what you will

Put your money down, expect something concrete in return. Human nature.

On July 1 last year, Al Diamon wrote in The Bollard, “As MPBN’s annual report for last year shows, First Wind is one of the network’s largest underwriters, having contributed over $25,000.”

Recently Friends of Maine’s Mountains distributed a press release about a poll that demonstrated the more folks know about industrial wind, the less inclined they are to support it. (See “Maine poll exposes softness in wind energy support.”) MPBN did not report the news, even though they routinely report on other political polls conducted by the same company.

Last month, when the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) voted overwhelmingly to uphold the denial of a First Wind project by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Friends of Maine’s Mountains issued a press release commenting on First Wind’s stinging defeat. Not only did MPBN not air our point of view, it didn’t even report the news --- at all.

Last week, when First Wind issued a press release announcing it would appeal the BEP’s decision, MPBN mysteriously decided that all of a sudden the Bowers Mountain project was in fact news.

Blowing up Maine’s mountain tops to erect industrial wind turbines will raise Maine’s electricity rates while simultaneously DOING NOTHING to reduce Maine’s consumption of fossil fuels. Most people are unaware of this puzzler. But don’t hold your breath waiting for an in-depth examination of this by most of Maine’s media. First Wind’s not throwing all that money around for nothing, after all. (Two clear exceptions: kudos to Bangor Daily News and the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting for their consistently fair and thorough reporting.)

Click the following link to read Al Diamon’s insightful story, “Being Aboveboard About Underwriters --- Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s policies on disclosure generate criticism.” And read into it what you will.

Why First Wind can’t understand what “No” means

When you’re used to greasing the political system with contributions, “scholarships” and other forms of payola, and when as a result you’re used to getting your way all the time in a state’s legislature or in front of its regulatory agencies (‘return on investment”), one word is particularly hard to swallow.

“No.”

That’s what the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) told First Wind last month, re-affirming the decision by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to reject First Wind’s industrial wind factory proposed for Bowers Mountain. But First Wind isn’t about to take that sitting down. Last week they announced they are appealing to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

Despite First Wind’s political “investments,” Maine people are catching on to an oh-so-obvious reality: land-based wind turbines don’t make sense in this state, and Maine people paying higher electricity rates so that people living in Massachusetts and Connecticut can say their power is “renewable” is a losing proposition. That’s why opposition continues to grow.

The Bowers decisions by Maine’s regulatory agencies were sound, and we trust that the state’s supreme court will uphold them. Last, congratulations to MPBN and the MaineToday newspapers for reporting this development. Last month they didn’t bother to report First Wind’s defeat in front of the BEP. Media reports:

Canary in a coal mine: oxygen too low for developers

Wind industry addicted to high subsidies prepares to pay price

When tears are streaking down the cheeks of wind cheerleaders, those eternal “blue sky” folks, the rest of us should sit up and take notice. That’s when you know something is seriously wrong in the wind industry.

Let’s re-cap the recent bad news here in Maine: the Bowers project is dead. So is First Wind’s financing deal with Emera. And the Critical Insights poll in April showed that the more Mainers know about industrial turbines, the less they like them.

Now even the industry itself is sounding the alarm about financial fears. Can you imagine the financing difficulties for wind companies if at least 30% of the proposed wind projects in this country die? Last month there was a conference in Las Vegas hosted by the American Wind Energy Association. And that’s where a high-ranking official of the world’s fifth largest wind turbine supplier made his prediction, as reported by the London-based online newsletter RECHARGE, “one of the most authoritative publications in the renewable-energy sector.” TEXT:

US wind ‘shakeout’ looms: execs

By Karl-Erik Stromsta in Las Vegas, Thursday, May 08 2014

Updated: Thursday, May 08 2014

Large amounts of wind capacity nominally under construction in the US may not actually get built, with senior turbine executives warning that a “shake out” is looming for the US project pipeline.

The American Wind Energy Association claims there was more than 12GW of wind capacity under construction at the end of 2013, with nearly 11GW of that entering construction in the final quarter of the year alone.

The “worst-case scenario” of a 50% attrition rate on that figure is unlikely, but “I’d bet you’ll see at least a 30% fall out”, says Duncan Koerbel, the Denver-based chief technology officer for India’s Suzlon Group.

Koerbel made his prediction while speaking Thursday at AWEA’s Windpower conference.

Many developers were forced to rush their projects last year to meet the Production Tax Credit requirements before it was allowed to expire at the end of 2013. In some cases the power purchase agreements they signed are at prices that may prove economically unviable.

“The tagline is there’s more wind under construction in the US than in the history of wind. But there are a lot of deals out there that are pretty thin,” says Koerbel, and many projects simply “won’t pass muster”.

While declining to make precise predictions of their own, other turbine executives agreed that a significant chunk of that 12GW figure will not get built.

Daniel McDevitt, chief executive of Nordex USA, says that many developers baked unrealistic expectations about how much turbine prices will come down into their projects.

“We’ve seen situations where developers come in in and give you [their target for turbine prices], and say, ‘This is what I assume it’s going to be.’ And some who might have been too aggressive are now finding themselves with a problem.”

David Hardy, vice president for sales at Vestas, says that the “artificial end date” created by PTC meant that wind projects that were not “actually mature enough” were forced to press ahead anyway.

The lack of policy certainty is "such a strain on our industry”, Hardy says. “It’s so painful.”

Dear Maine: Don’t depend on Maine reporters for Maine news

If you think the following sentence qualifies as news, well then how dare you expect to get it from some of Maine’s most prominent media outlets.

Allowing the Bowers wind farm, the (Board of Environmental Protection) determined, would adversely affect the views around nine scenic lakes considered of ‘state or national significance,’ said Cynthia S. Bertocci, executive analyst for the board.”

That’s right, in early June, Maine’s natural beauty and the Board of Environmental Protection killed a major industrial wind project proposed for Bowers Mountain by First Wind, the second major defeat here for First Wind in the last few months. You can read "Hawaii wind player gets comeuppance in Maine" in the Hawaii Free Press, or you can read “First Wind sees setbacks in Maine” in the Boston Globe.

But do you know who didn't tell Mainers about the decision, made two and a half weeks ago? The Portland Press Herald, the Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal, the Coastal Journal, the Central Maine Morning Sentinel, WMTW, the Associated Press, Maine Public Radio, the Lewiston Sun Journal, the Times-Record, the Journal Tribune, WMTW, WGME, WABI, WVII and WAGM.

Whether you’re a supporter or an opponent of blowing up Maine’s mountain tops for industrial wind turbines that operate just 25% of the time, please remember that if you live in Maine, there’s a very good chance you’re never getting the whole story from the media here.

More voices on our side

Given all our progress in our public education efforts, we were pleased to wake up this morning to another news report calling Friends of Maine’s Mountains “the most widely known anti-wind energy development group in the state.”

That is a direct tribute to our donors who have sustained this organization since its inception. THANK YOU once again for your strong support.

Just as exciting, however, is today's Bangor Daily News report on a new group that is joining the fight.  Although the group is focused on other issues, they are also concerned about the proliferation of wind turbines in Maine.  The group, called Saving Maine, is launching a print and radio advertising campaign soon. Considering all the great work that many people in the “Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power – Maine” have done, we hope Saving Maine is another effective voice in the growing coalition against useless and costly industrial wind turbines where they don’t belong. 

MOMENTUM IS INCREASING, thanks to all those willing to look behind the headlines.

25% reliability is terrible standard for “renewable” energy

It is true that we are against blowing up the tops of Maine’s scenic mountains to build industrial wind turbines that do nothing to reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels.

It is false that we are against TRUE renewable energy sources. Check out this dairy farm in Exeter, Maine. It takes food waste, combines it with cow manure, and generates electricity. The fuel supply is constant (those cows never stop!), which means the power is dependable and reliable 100% of the time. Unlike the wind turbines in Maine, which extract heavy subsidies from YOU, the ratepayer and taxpayer, but which operate only 25% of the time, when the wind is blowing. Thus when the wind isn't blowing, wind turbines in Maine require burning fossil fuels in conventional power plants as back-up, thus they do nothing to reduce our use of fossil fuels. And we're spending a BILLION DOLLARS on this non-solution.

Wind turbines on Maine’s mountains are a terrible idea, but we think many renewable ideas have great potential.

We’ve been told, for instance, that this country needs to replace tens of thousands of bridges. The EPA made a $15,000 grant available a couple of years ago for students to study the possibility of capturing wind power on highway bridges. The expected results were “an inventory of potential energy by bridge underpass type and location, and design guidelines for new underpass bridges and retrofit of existing underpass bridges to maximize wind generated power. The results on existing underpasses, model testing in a wind tunnel, turbine designs and estimated electrical energy production for several cases will help demonstrate the feasibility of harvesting and converting wind energy in support of bridge underpass infrastructure.”

Loading up the country’s bridges with wind turbines may work, it may not. One thing it has going for it is that it doesn’t try to capture one resource by destroying another, as the turbines on Maine’s mountains do.

This news was released in Hawaii today

Hawaii wind player gets comeuppance in Maine

(Augusta, Maine) First Wind, the industrial wind developer whose projects in Hawaii have sparked controversy, has suffered two major setbacks recently in Maine.

Last week the Maine Board of Environmental Protection voted 4-1 to deny First Wind’s appeal of a decision by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to reject the company’s proposal for a 16-turbine, 48 megawatt industrial wind project in a remote area of the state. That effectively kills the project, a major loss for First Wind, with the company’s last and only recourse now being to sue one or both agencies in the state’s supreme court.

Earlier this year Maine’s supreme court struck a major blow to First Wind when it overturned regulators’ approval of a financing arrangement between the company and Emera, an electric utility company based in Nova Scotia. The decision threatens another First Wind project in the state, and possibly the company’s overall financial stability.

In Hawaii, First Wind operates four industrial wind projects, Kahuku Wind, Kawailoa Wind, Kaheawa Wind I and Kaheawa Wind II. The company also has an office on Maui. First Wind’s projects in Hawaii have been controversial, highlighted by fires at the Kahuku facility on Oahu’s North Shore in 2011 and 2012, causing safety and pollution concerns. The National Wind Watch, an anti-wind group, lists two anti-wind groups in the state of Hawaii, I Aloha Molokai and Makani Lanai.

Chris O’Neil, a spokesperson for the anti-wind group Friends of Maine’s Mountains, said the two losses for First Wind are significant, because the company can no longer count on the “blind faith” of the state’s legislature and regulatory agencies, as they had previously been able to.

“Folks here are catching on to the way First Wind does business, and they don’t like it,” O’Neil said. “They play inside baseball, fertilizing the landscape with a lot of sponsorships and political contributions. It could be that this heavy-handed business model is starting to backfire.”

O’Neil said Maine has a virulent and growing anti-wind community, and he pointed to a 2010 news article about Kurt Adams, First Wind’s executive vice president and chief development officer, as one of the reasons for the growing backlash.

According to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, Adams once worked for Maine’s governor, in charge of making sure companies like First Wind followed the state’s rules and regulations. “While he was Maine’s chief utilities regulator,” reporter Naomi Schalit wrote, “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."

In the past several months, Adams has been on the “host committee” of several fundraisers for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democratic candidate for Maine governor and supporter of industrial wind. Maine’s current governor, Paul LePage, is not as chummy with the industry, which relies heavily on ratepayer and taxpayer subsidies.

O’Neil said educating Maine people about the political muscle of wind industrialists has been a slow process, but organizations like Friends of Maine’s Mountains are now having much more success winning converts to the anti-wind cause in that state.

“It’s ironic, but First Wind’s approach has made it easier for us to reach people. Their strong-arm tactics and manipulation of the political process attract attention. That makes it easier for us to point out that wind turbines do not make economic sense in Maine.”

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.

On The Web:

  1.   "PUC chairman took equity stake in wind company"
  2.  First Wind
  3. Friends of Maine's Mountains
  4. Emera
  5. "Citizen board upholds Maine DEP's rejection of Bowers Mountain wind farm permit"

 

Get silent treatment, turn up volume

Kudos to WCSH/WLBZ and to the Bangor Daily News. They are the only Maine media to report on First Wind’s stinging 4-1 defeat last week in front of the Board of Environmental Protection.

No other media in the state thought it was important to tell Maine people that the Bowers Wind project is dead. Among THE SILENT were the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal, the Coastal Journal, the Central Maine Morning Sentinel, WMTW, the Associated Press, Maine Public Radio, the Lewiston Sun Journal, the Times-Record, the Journal Tribune, WMTW, WGME, WABI, WVII and WAGM.

So here’s what we’re doing. We’re taking the news to every state in the nation in which First Wind does business. From Maine to Hawaii, yessiree. Click on the image below to see the press release we just sent out to reporters and editors in Massachusetts. If the Maine media won’t get news of First Wind’s troubles to those who would be interested, we will.

ATTENTION, FIRST WIND: People around the country are starting to compare notes. The free ride's over.

“Largest media company” omits reporting news to Maine

You would think state regulators killing First Wind’s proposed industrial wind factory on Bowers Mountain would be news to Maine people. Not in the opinion of the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal, The Coastal Journal or the Central Maine Morning Sentinel, all owned by MaineToday Media.

None of the papers have reported the news from Thursday’s BEP meeting. MaineToday Media calls itself the largest media company in Maine, and that “with the largest audience in Maine, the combined reach of our print and online products influence over 1000,000 households and over 1.2 million unique visitors every month.”

First Wind’s latest big defeat was not widely reported in Maine, for reasons unknown

First Wind’s latest big defeat was not widely reported in Maine, for reasons unknown

Opposition to industrial wind factories is growing very fast here in Maine, because they don’t reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and they INCREASE our electricity rates. But at least for now, most of Maine won’t understand that opposition, because only WCSH, WLBZ and the Bangor Daily News thought the state might be curious about a major defeat for First Wind. Of course this defeat follows another recent and major defeat for First Wind, when Maine’s Supreme Court struck down the PUC’s approval of the company’s financing deal with Emera. (You would think First Wind’s losing streak would also be news.)

Rather than rely on the media, sometimes you have to educate yourself on topics like wind energy. And keep in mind that those inclined to be un-critical cheerleaders for this subsidy-chasing industry are likely to be getting their information from the media, whose reporting is often incomplete or non-existent. We’re not singling out MaineToday Media --- also not reporting on the most recent defeat for First Wind were the Associated Press, Maine Public Radio, the dailies Lewiston Sun Journal, Brunswick Times-Record and Journal Tribune, and TV stations WMTW, WGME, WABI, WVII and WAGM. But if any of those silent outlets are where you primarily get your news, then until you read this blog entry you were in the dark about the death of the Bowers Mountain wind project. And you had lots of company.