Good Letter From Mr. Thurston to LURC

Dear Marcia,

I read with interest the report that is included in the agenda (item #4) of the upcoming LURC meeting. There is a lot of good analysis and it commendable that LURC is making the effort to understand the many impacts of wind power.

Not included in the analysis, however, is one issue that I believe is essential for keeping in perspective the goals established by the Governor's Task Force and adopted by the legislature as the Expedited Process Wind Law, namely, the amount of electricity represented by 2700 MW of land based wind power.

Maine is part of the ISO-NE grid. The grid operates at an average peak daily demand of about 16,000 MW per hour, rising during the day and falling to about 12,000 MW per hour at night. The following link opens a real time map of electricity consumption throughout the ISO-NE service area:

At the moment I am writing this, at 9:00 pm, the grid is using about 13,800 MW and the real time price being paid for generation is $37 per MW hour. The cost of wind power, according to the Electricity Institute of America, in 2008 levelized costs for new power plant construction, is $149.50 per MW, 4 times the cost being paid for the current mix of generation sources. The following table is in this IEA report:

Estimated Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources, 2016 Table.

This gap in the cost differential between wind power and the market value of electricity is made up in subsidies of one form or another. To be fair, other sources of generation also receive subsidies, which are reflected in the market price. However, the per MW value of subsidies for other generation sources are as follows, according to this report on the IEA website at this link:

Rankings of subsidies and support based on absolute amount and amounts per megawatthour of generation differ widely, reflecting substantial differences in the amount of generation across fuels.

Subsidies and Support to Electric Production by Selected Primary Energy Sources

Primary Energy Source

FY 2007 Net Generation (billion kilowatthours)

Subsidies and Support Allocated to Electric Generation (million FY 2007 dollars)

Subsidies and Support per Unit of Production (dollars/megawatthour)

Natural Gas and Petroleum Liquids
































Refined Coal




Energy Information Administration, Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy Markets 2007, SR/CNEAF/2008-1 (Washington, DC, 2008).

As you can see in the above table, the subsidies provided to coal and natural gas are less than $1 per MW compared to wind power at $23 per MW.

Maine's goal of 2700 MW of wind generation, at a capacity factor of 25%, which is in line with the capacity factors achieved by wind projects in Maine to date, will provide about 675 MW of electricity to the grid per hour. This is about 4.5% of the average daily demand of the grid. The grid has existing, committed generation capacity of about 35,000 MW. 675 MW is less than 2% of the generation capacity of the grid. These are insignificant percentages if the goal is to substantially reduce fossil fuel consumption.

No matter how you slice it, wind power is absurdly expensive, and will alter Maine's landscape permanently with little benefit in emissions reductions in return. NRCM's wind power advocate Dylan Voorhees admitted to me at the Common Ground Fair last weekend that wind generation in Maine may not reduce fossil fuel generation in Maine, because natural gas plants in other states may be the generators that provide the regulating reserves that are affected by the variable output of wind turbines. Wind power will not decrease coal or oil generation because coal plants in the ISO-NE service area run 24/7 as baseload capacity, and oil is used very rarely - only when demand peaks as on hot summer days when wind power is typically not available.

I would also like to correct the table that is included in your report that shows Record Hill Wind in Roxbury as "under construction". Angus King and Rob Gardiner have applied for a DOE Federal Loan Guarantee for this project, which is currently suspended. The draft permit for this project contained the standard DEP condition that financial capacity must be demonstrated prior to construction. The final permit, issued 5 days later, changed the word "construction" to "operation". There is nothing in the record to indicate why this change was made. This permit condition was relied upon by King and Gardiner to begin construction of the project, and it was only after appellants challenged the absence of financial capacity, and the DEP was forced to acknowledge the improper language of the condition (they called it a "drafting error"), that the project was suspended. The recent application for a Federal Loan Guarantee is evidence that RHW has never had financing in place, and it is now obvious that RHW misrepresented that fact to the DEP on several occasions. Your report should show that RHW is suspended due to absence of financial capacity. It should also show that the project is, identical to Oakfield, under appeal to the Law Court.

I have testified to LURC at Carabassett in March of this year about the need for a much more skeptical approach to the permanent alteration of hundreds of miles of mountain ridges and side slopes for the road construction needed for 2700 MW of wind power. Additionally there will be hundreds of miles of clear cuts through currently unbroken wildlife habitat for transmission corridors such as occurred at Kibby. The cumulative impact of this massive assault on Maine's landscape is nearly incomprehensible, and yet we continue on this absurd march like lemmings to the sea, or like frogs sitting in a slowly boiling pot of water, unwilling to recognize the folly of our current course.

Thanks for the opportunity to provide feedback to your worthwhile endeavor to analyze the impacts of Maine's wind goal, something the Task Force and legislature clearly ignored. Please share this with your fellow board members.

Steve Thurston


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Comment by Whetstone_Willy on October 5, 2010 at 1:28pm
I'm hoping for a little "Winged Monkey Phenomenon". When the pail of water called term limits gets poured on Badacci in January, maybe LURC will not be so suppotive of his own personal get rich quick scheme.
Comment by Art Brigades on October 5, 2010 at 11:10am
Yes indeed. But LURC is still bound to weigh projects according to the criteria given them by the Legislature. If a proposed project helps the state attain the statutory 2700 mw wind goal, it scores points in the approval process.
Comment by Whetstone_Willy on October 5, 2010 at 9:23am
I think it is critical to firmly plant in the minds of LURC the lopsided ratio of impact to benefit. I'm guessing that LURC is acutely aware of the impacts but has largely taken some of the supposed benefits as a given such as emissions reductions, reducing our use of oil and jobs. Once LURC understands that industrial wind is essentially all impact and no benefit, we just may see greater common sense prevail, particularly after Governor Wind-Happy leaves office.

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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