Maine poll exposes softness in wind energy support

(Portland, Maine) Answers to questions asked recently by an independent, nonpartisan polling firm indicate that support for building industrial wind turbines in Maine is not as strong as wind power cheerleaders have led policy makers and the public to believe.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains (FMM), a group that opposes industrial wind turbine projects, commissioned Critical Insights of Portland, Maine to ask three questions about wind energy in its semi-annual Tracking Poll. The company completed 601 telephone interviews (including cell phones) with randomly selected voters across the state between April 16th and April 24th, 2014. CLICK HERE for a PDF of the results, which indicate that support for building industrial wind turbines declines appreciably when respondents learn that:

  • Building industrial wind turbines does not significantly reduce Maine’s reliance on nuclear energy, coal or oil;
  • Building industrial wind turbines in Maine yields only a negligible reduction in carbon dioxide emissions;
  • Maine may not experience positive benefits from the proliferation of industrial wind turbines on the state’s mountains.

(Click HERE for PDF of supporting information, and click HERE for PDF of Maine generation sources.)

Chris O’Neil, spokesperson for Friends of Maine’s Mountains, said the results raise questions about the extremely positive approval numbers that wind developers routinely cite when they attempt to justify steep taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies.

“For years wind developers have peddled the general benefits of wind energy, and they have a lot of financial resources behind them that we’ll never match,” O’Neil said. “People certainly want to believe it’s all good. But impacts to Maine exceed the benefits, and these poll results point out weak support for industrial wind when that shortfall is understood. Mainers expect tangible benefits for the enormous investment the government is forcing taxpayers and ratepayers to make in wind energy.”

O’Neil noted that almost 80% of respondents reported that they’re less likely to support building industrial wind turbines “if the development will not positively impact Maine.”

O’Neil said skepticism about wind energy is increasing, and as a result Maine policy makers are starting to ask much tougher questions about the benefits of industrial wind turbines in sensitive mountain areas. He pointed to several anti-wind bills in the last Legislative session that fared well, including legislation that would have eliminated the state’s “megawatt goals” and replaced them with a policy objective of demonstrated and “tangible” benefits.

“Now that policy makers have driven a new car off the lot, they’re finally kicking the tires and looking underneath the hood. Expect to see much tougher scrutiny of proposed wind projects in the future,” O’Neil said.

For more information about Friends of Maine’s Mountains, visit www.FriendsOfMainesMountains.org. For more information about Critical Insights, visit www.CriticalInsights.com.