FMM Testifies on Renewable & Climate Legislation

May 8, 2019

Senator Lawrence and Representative Berry, and members of the Utilities Committee, I am Chris O’Neil, Public Affairs Director at Friends of Maine’s Mountains. FMM testifies against LD 1494, with a friendly amendment that would make the legislation more effective and more palatable.

FMM educates the public about the high impacts and low benefits of Maine land-based wind energy development.  In that role, FMM has spent the last decade protecting Maine’s iconic Quality of Place from this very destructive form of industrialization. At the same time, FMM has always advocated for sensible clean energy and environmental policy.

First, FMM continues to urge you – as we have all year – to park the legislation presented today, and to collaboratively work with the dozen or so other similar bill sponsors, the governor, and the various interested parties before moving forward with any broad energy/climate policy reforms, including the proposals to revisit renewable portfolio mandates. Coordination of effort is already ongoing, and it is imperative that it continues.

Second, FMM is pleased that Mainers have finally parsed our dialogue such that energy does not mean electricity.  As you know from earlier legislation this session, Maine’s various energy sectors must be considered separately, even as they have at least one predominant common denominator: fossil fuel reliance.

Third, please assess the problem, Maine’s role in the problem, and Maine’s possible contributions to any solutions that have been proposed. As you know, Maine electricity generation is already among the cleanest in the nation, with minimal fossil fuel use. At 40% our RPS is the highest in the nation, and our transportation sector emits at least 6 times more CO2 than our electricity sector does. FMM has been pleased to see so many policymakers this year - especially the governor - fixating not on unnecessary, redundant and unaffordable new electricity generation, but on the real CO2 problem and low hanging fruit: fossil fuel use in heating and transportation, which emit ten times more CO2 than electricity does.

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Comment by Willem Post on May 12, 2019 at 3:56am

Cost Shifting is the Name of the Game Regarding Wind and Solar


Cost shifting is rarely mentioned, identified or quantified. Those costs, as c/kWh, could be quantified, but it is politically convenient to charge them to:


- Ratepayers, via electric rate schedules, and/or added taxes, fees and surcharges on electric bills

- Directly to taxpayers, such as carbon taxes and user fees.

- Directly to federal and state budgets and debts


No cost ever disappears. Eventually, the various costs would increase the prices of energy and of other goods and services.

Efficiencies improvements elsewhere in the economy may partially, or completely, offset such increases.

However, RE subsidies would divert capital from other sectors of the economy, which likely would result in fewer improvements in efficiencies.


Cost Shifting: Here is a partial list of the costs that were shifted, i.e., not charged to wind and solar plant owners, to make wind and solar appear less costly than in reality to the lay public and legislators.


1) The various forms of grid-stabilizing inertia (presently provided by synchronous gas, coal, oil, nuclear, bio and hydro plants).


2) The filling-in, peaking and balancing by traditional generators (mostly gas turbines in New England), due to wind and solar variability/intermittency, 24/7/365. The more wind and solar on the grid, the larger the required up/down ramping capacity of the gas turbines, which imparts added costs to owners for which they likely would not be paid:


- Less annual production to cover power plant costs, which jeopardizes the economic viability of the plant


- Inefficient remaining production (more fuel/kWh, more CO2/kWh), due to up/down ramping at part load, which further adds to owner costs, and reduces less CO2 than claimed. See URL


- More wear and tear on the gas turbine plants, which further adds to owner costs


NOTE: All of this is quite similar to a car efficiently operating at a steady 55 mph, versus a car inefficiently operating at continuously varying speeds between 45 mph to 65 mph.


3) Any battery systems to stabilize distribution grid with many solar systems. They would quickly offset downward spikes due to variable cloud cover. See URL.


4) Any measures to deal with DUCK curves, such as a) daily gas turbine plant down and up ramping, b) utility-scale storage and c) demand management.


5) Grid-related costs, such as grid extensions and augmentations to connect the remotely distributed wind and solar, and to deal with variable/intermittent wind and solar on the grid. Those grid items usually are utilized at the low capacity factors of wind and solar, i.e., a lot of hardware doing little work.


6) Utility-scale electricity storage (presently provided by the world’s traditional fuel supply system).


The above 6 items are entirely separate from the high levels of direct and indirect subsidies. They serve to make wind and solar appearto be much less costly, than in reality. See sections 1 and 2 and Appendix.


All that enables wind and solar proponents to endlessly proclaim: “Wind and solar are competitive with fossil and nuclear”.


Example of Cost Shifting: For example, to bring wind electricity from the Panhandle in west Texas to population centers in east Texas, about 1000 miles, $7 billion of transmission was built. The entire cost was “socialized”, i.e., it appeared as a surcharge on residential electric bills.


Example of Cost Shifting: Often the expensive grid connection of offshore wind plants, say from 20 miles south of Martha's Vineyard, across the island, and then to the reinforced mainland grid, is not included in the capital cost estimates, i.e., all or part of it is provided by the utilities that buy the electricity under PPAs to make PPA-pricing appear smaller than in reality. That cost is “socialized”, i.e., it appears as a surcharge on residential electric bills, or is added to the rate base.


Wind and Solar Wholesale Prices in NE: Here are some wholesale prices of wind electricity RE folks in New England, especially in Maine, do not want to talk about. They would rather dream RE fantasies, obfuscate/fudge the numbers, and aim to convert others to their dream scenarios, somewhat like religious missionaries. See table 2.


Comments on table 2:


Indirect subsidies are due to loan interest deduction and depreciation deductions from taxable incomes.

Direct subsidies are due to up front grants, waiving of state sales taxes, and/or local property (municipal and school) taxes. See URL.


Table 7

Direct/Indirect subsidies

Cost shifting

NE Wind

NE Solar











Owner price to utility



  17 - 19

22 - 26

Owner price to utility



 15 - 17

20 - 24

Owner price to utility



 8.5 - 9

10.5 - 12.5

Comment by richard mcdonald on May 10, 2019 at 5:40pm

With the RFP scam drying up in southern NE, developers will be more than happy to get on the GovWindMills bandwagon for more, more more. The RI RFP  bidder selection will be telling.

Comment by Willem Post on May 10, 2019 at 5:28pm

Raising the RPS is merely an excuse and green light for multi millionaires to do more destruction of Maine’s pristine ridge lines to put in marginal wind turbines that would have low capacity factors because of mediocre winds

Look out the window. Most of the time it is overcast, little to minimal wind, and some rain, for days on end.

If Maine builds out solar and wind, what would provide electricity during such wind/solar lulls? Batteries? You must be kidding.

Solar is minimal or zero for 70% of the hours of the year. It is completely useless on a stand alone basis.

Wind is minimal or near zero for 30% of the hours of the year. It is completely useless on a stand alone basis.

Both highly subsidized electricity sources would need as crutches the other generators, especially hydro and gas turbines, to help out to make their electricity useful. 

Does anyone have the naive notion these generator plant owners, will be doing the ramping up and down, at part load (very inefficient), producing less electricity, in an expensive manner, for free? Whom is THAT cost going to be charged to? Joe and Jane Worker? For sure not to the owners of wind and solar; they are well connected and have lobbyists to whisper into the ears of legislators and key bureaucrats.

Comment by richard mcdonald on May 10, 2019 at 4:26pm

Good luck with convincing Gov. WindMills, Seth Berry, Jeremy Payne and others in the renewable cabal from moving quickly to raise the RPS. The Climate Council has their rubber stamp ready to go. 

Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"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."


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

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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We have the facts on our side. We have the truth on our side. All we need now is YOU.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

 -- Mahatma Gandhi

"It's not whether you get knocked down: it's whether you get up."
Vince Lombardi 

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