AWEA Northeast Conference Summary (South Portland)


Celeste Wanner, an analyst at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA, Washington, DC, US), kicked off the event with an update of the state of the National industry. In 2016, energy capacity from wind, surpassed hydropower as the number one source of renewable energy. At the end of the first quarter of 2018 AWEA estimated the cumulative capacity of US wind at 89,379 MW. Land-based turbines now generate more than 6% of the nation’s electricity. Bigger, more-efficient units that are capable of drastically cutting costs should continue to fuel growth even after the Production Tax Credit (PTC) expires next year, according to data presented by Wanner.

But, what share of this growth will be in the Northeast, particularly in Maine, remains shrouded in a fog of politics and transmission challenges. With 923 MW of installed capacity spread over 16 commercial projects, Maine already produces more than four times more wind power than any other New England state, but no new wind farms have started up in Maine since 2016 and no new applications are pending, largely because of the well-documented opposition by Maine’s governor, Paul LePage and transmission problems.1........................................................As stated by David Wilby, a Maine-based consultant during one of the panels, “They’ve got a big plane off the ground,” Wilby said. “Can they land that big plane? I’m confident it’s going to happen. But I wouldn’t minimize the challenge.”

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NOTE: Wilby was on Governor Baldacci's wind task force that rigged the game and led to the heinous 2008 Maine expedited wind law that plagues us to this day. Baldacci of course has been the vice chair od Avangrid (CMP parent company and nation's second largest wind company) since December 2015. Maybe I shouldn't have just said the words "of course" as the media have never reported on Baldacci's role at Avangrid.

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “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." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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