CITIZENS' TASK FORCE ON WIND POWER
Who are we?
Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power (CTFWP) is a coalition of citizens from around the state drawn together in the common purpose of advocating for responsible, science based, economically and environmentally sound approaches to Maine’s energy policy. Wind power on Maine's priceless scenic landscape does not achieve these results.
Statewide wind organization contacts:
Dan Remian - Citizen Initiative to Amend Maine's Wind Law
Richard McDonald - President & Director of Communications, Saving Maine
5 MOST COMMON MYTHS
ABOUT WIND POWER
1. Wind Power will help Mainers to get off foreign oil.
Electricity generation in Maine uses oil for only 2% of total generation, mostly during the peak demand of summer when the Cousins Island oil fired generator is needed to meet demand for air conditioning in
urban areas. If air conditioner thermostats were raised 2-3 degrees this demand could disappear. Conservation and efficiency are the most economical and environmentally responsible ways to reduce energy consumption.
2. Wind Power in Maine will reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel plants which will help fight global warming and improve air quality.
- Maine shares the atmosphere with the entire planet. While Maine pursues a goal of 2,700 megawatts (1 megawatt = 1 million kilowatts) of wind power by 2020, China will build 750,000
MW of new coal fired generation.
- A 1% increase in Maine’s forest cover would sequester the same amount of carbon as it is alleged that Maine’s wind power will reduce.
- Because wind is constantly fluctuating and intermittent, turbines operate at about 25% of their nameplate capacity. So 2700 MW
of installed turbine capacity will produce, on average, about 675 MW of electricity, which is only about 4% of the normal daily demand of the grid which serves Maine.
- Natural gas generators operate less efficiently when required to follow the erratic output of wind, much like a car driving in city traffic versus on a highway, resulting in an increase in carbon emissions.
- Maine’s goal of 2700 MW would essentially have no effect on the earth’s climate or on atmospheric pollution from fossil fuel plants.
3. Fossil fuels are finite and ever more costly, while the wind is infinite and free.
- Natural gas provides about 50% of Maine’s electricity. Hydro and biomass provide most of the balance. Very little oil or coal is used to generate electricity in Maine. Natural gas is clean burning with no particulate emissions and half the CO2 of coal. Domestic reserves are vast and the cost of electricity is expected to remain low for the foreseeable future. Wind is free but wind turbines are very
expensive and have a short (15-20 year) lifespan.
- The cost of electricity generated with natural gas is about 5 cents per kW, while the cost of wind generated electricity is about 13 cents per kW. The difference is made up in subsidies and tax benefits. While fossil fuels and nuclear power are subsidized at less than $1 per MW, wind power receives about $80 per megawatt in various subsidies, renewable energy credits and tax benefits.
4. Wind Power is providing jobs and a much needed boost to Maine’s economy.
- About 70% of the cost of a wind project is sent overseas where the turbines are built. Turbines are massive steel structures weighing hundreds of tons. The steel used to build these enormous machines is produced in countries with cheap labor such as China. The
bulk of our tax dollars used to support the wind industry are spent off shore. Angus King’s project in Roxbury, currently under construction, uses turbines assembled in Denmark and blades made in Viet Nam.
- Many members of congress have expressed outrage at the use of stimulus funds to create jobs in foreign countries for the benefit of the wind industry.
- Wind power is about money, not solving our energy problems.
5. Wind power will heat our homes and charge our electric cars, enabling a transition from heating oil and gasoline.
- While this sounds attractive, the reality is that there is sufficient capacity in existing transmission systems to allow nighttime charging of electric storage heaters and plug in vehicles. Wind power will only raise the cost of electricity due to its higher generation cost and the need to build new transmission lines to allow power from remote wind farms to reach urban population centers.
INDUSTRIAL WIND POWER IN MAINE'S MOUNTAINS IS BAD POLICY
Towns considering wind projects need to understand industrial wind power's reliance on massive government subsidies (our tax dollars) for its existence. When political support for industrial wind power dries up and the subsidies are removed all of the "tangible benefits" towns believed they would get indefinitely will disappear. The limited liability shell corporations that own the wind turbines will abandon these projects, having received handsome upfront returns on their investments. Lack of funds to remove the turbines and restore the sites, due to the DEP's failure to require set aside of these funds will leave towns with no ability to remove the turbines, or deal with the long term environmental consequences of high mountain clearing and road building.
Following are the key points about industrial wind power that the government and the wind industry are not talking about:
1. Political - "The goal of the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power was to grease the skids for the wind industry and Wall Street, not to find out if wind power was good for Mainers."
The “Expedited Permit” wind law was an “emergency” bill from the governor which passed through the legislature in 15 days with very little scrutiny and no debate in April 2008. The bill was the result of the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power, whose mandate was to identify and remove obstacles to wind power development in the state, and not to examine the pros and cons or negative impacts of wind power.
2. Environmental - "The promise of wind power is false, but the damage is guaranteed. The Governor's plan will destroy 50,000 acres of forest land - the size of 39,000 football fields."
- The wind law established a goal of 2700 megawatts of installed capacity by 2020.
- 2700 MW requires one thousand, eight hundred GE 1.5 MW turbines spaced approximately 1/5 mile apart = 360 miles of ridge line cleared, blasted and filled for the turbine foundations and interconnecting two lane haul roads.
- Additionally, hundreds of miles of new access roads and transmission corridors fragmenting deep forest habitats and fragile ecosystems must be constructed to gain access to the top of the ridges and connect the turbines to the grid. As much as 50,000 acres of clear cutting will be required. Compare that to 3,000 acres for the Plum Creek development, recently appealed by NRCM. Ironically, NRCM fully supports industrial wind power on Maine’s mountains, despite the massive destruction to ecosystems that will occur.
3. Maine’s Economy - "Tourism is Maine's #1 industry. Wind power will kill tourism in Maine’s mountains. How will people make a living when the tourists stop coming?
- Tourism is Maine’s #1 industry, as important to the mountain region as the coast. The installation of more than one thousand gigantic turbines on Maine’s ridges will change the experience for tourists as well as residents. Access for hiking, snowmobiling, and hunting will be restricted. Every horizon will contain near or distant views of turbines. Night skies will be punctuated with the red strobe lights on the turbines, visible for 40 miles.
- Maine’s “Quality of Place” has received a great deal of attention recently. The Governor’s Task Force defined Quality of Place as “our majestic mountains, unbroken forests, open fields, wild rivers, pristine lakes, widely-celebrated coast, picturesque downtowns, lively arts and culture, authentic historic buildings, and exceptional recreational opportunities. It is our principal advantage in today’s global economic competition. Quality of place will help us keep and attract skilled workers and entrepreneurs to fill Maine’s declining workforce population.”
- Maine’s “Quality of Place Investment Strategy”, adopted by executive order in July 2008 contains the following goals:
- Protect, strengthen, and develop Maine’s Quality of Place assets, both natural and built;
- Make the State’s several regions more economically competitive and prosperous through increased investment, job opportunities, regional incomes, and public revenues; and
- Create new jobs and valued products and services in Maine that will succeed in national and global markets for local, regional, and state benefit.
- These goals are in direct opposition to the goal of 2700 MW of industrial wind power in Maine’s mountains. The preservation of Maine’s Sense of Place and industrial wind power are irreconcilable goals.
- Expensive wind power will increase the cost of electricity for Maine’s ratepayers and eliminate existing jobs in the renewable energy sector. The grid is required to take wind generation when it is available, which will force other renewable generators such as biomass plants to reduce output. Less production equals fewer jobs.
5. Human Health Concerns - "Turbines make people sick. The same symptoms are reported all over the world. Why does the wind industry deny this? Remember tobacco and asbestos."
- Turbines cause sleep disturbance at long distances for some people due to low frequency noise which travels further in the atmosphere than higher frequencies.
- People living within range of turbine noise around the world report symptoms similar to the complaints of folks living at Mars Hill and Freedom – sleep disturbance, headaches, aggravation, anxiety – caused by the intense sound of the enormous blades ripping through the atmosphere.
- The wind industry is in denial about these well documented and very serious health concerns, and Maine CDC has exhibited a startling lack of medical ethics by ignoring the complaints of citizens whose lives have been negatively impacted by the very first turbine installations in the state.
6, Wind Generated Electricity Costs 3 Times More Than the Grid Currently Pays for Electricity - "Wind power will make your electricity more expensive."
- 2700 MW @ 25% average capacity factor = 675 MW electricity delivered on average to the ISO NE grid.
- 675 MW divided by average ISO NE grid demand of 16,000 MW = only 4.5% of grid demand will be met by 2700 MW of wind turbines. Very little electricity in the grid is produced with oil so claims of reduced foreign oil use due to wind power are false.
- 2700 MW x $2 million per MW construction cost = $5.4 billion plus $1.5 billion new CMP transmission project to serve remote wind projects = $6.9 billion installed cost.
- It costs more than $100 per MW to generate electricity with a mountain top turbine, while electricity is selling in the ISO NE grid for about $35 per MW today. The difference is made up in subsidies and tax benefits.
- Percentage of industrial wind power installed cost provided by taxpayer subsidies = approximately 2/3 of cost = $4.3 billion dollars
- Transmission lines in densely populated southern Maine as well as near remote wind farms must be built to accommodate 100% of the capacity of the wind project, even though the wind project will only produce erratically at about 25% of rated capacity. Ratepayers will pay for this gross over build of transmission capacity with higher rates due to the under-utilization of the infrastructure.
7. A Much More Cost Effective Use of Our Tax Dollars – “Weatherization, insulation and increased efficiency create long term jobs for Mainers. Wind power does not”.
- If $4.3 billion was instead directed to conservation and efficiency programs it would equal more than $10,000 per residential structure in Maine, which could be used for incentives to encourage massive reductions in heating oil usage. By contrast, Maine's current year budget for C and E programs is about $15 per household. The government and the wind industry pay lip service to C and E while pouring 90% of subsidies into industrial wind power.
- These subsidies do not create many jobs in this country. Wind turbines are made in China and other countries, not in the US.
- Without these massive subsidies, wind projects cannot pay their property taxes, or their TIF payments, or assure us the money to remove the turbines will be there when they stop working.
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A note from the site administrator:
The Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power - Maine is a coalition of citizens advocating responsible, science based, economically and environmentally sound approaches to Maine's energy policy including a stop to the spread of harmful industrial scale wind complexes in our state. The primary purpose of this website is to allow like minded individuals to help this cause by sharing information and experiences and educating those seeking information. We are outspent and out-resourced by the powerful corporate interests that are using all their powers to site industrial scale wind complexes throughout the Maine countryside. We thus value this site as an important communications tool and are concerned that it be used in a manner that helps further our cause. All comments and other submissions are subject to approval. By submitting comments as well as other material, you are agreeing to relinquish any subsequent rights of ownership to your material by submitting it on this site. This entitles granting me the right to display any information or material you submit to this site. I have the right to edit, remove, or deny access to content that is determined to be, in my sole discretion, unacceptable. .