ELLSWORTH, Maine — Recent statements from Gov. Paul LePage regarding wind energy are causing some angst in Maine’s wind power industry at a time changes in Augusta and Washington, D.C., are creating uncertainty over political support for renewable energy.
Since his election in 2010, LePage has questioned the economics behind wind power as part of his administration’s focus on lowering energy costs for Maine ratepayers. But the Republican governor’s rhetoric has intensified in recent months, suggesting that the technology is increasing energy costs and padding the pockets of “special interests.”
“We have people in Maine who say that wind is the answer. And it is the answer for people who lobby for wind,” LePage told a crowd in April. “Wind is costing us dearly. It’s costing us jobs, it’s costing us investment and it’s costing us big.”
Those comments came months after LePage repeatedly suggested that state policies designed to encourage development of wind power were partly responsible for Maine’s higher electric rates— a claim sharply disputed by renewable energy proponents.
More recently, LePage has used the debate over wind power to attack independent U.S. Senate candidate and former governor Ang..., repeatedly calling him “the king of the wind cartel” and suggesting he made “a fortune” on ratepayers backs. King was until recently a large stakeholder in Independence Wind that built the 22-turbine Record Hill wind farm.
While LePage’s statements have been welcomed by wind power critics in Maine, they’ve caused some discomfort in an industry that supporters point out has invested more than $1 billion in Maine — and much of that during a recession. They also suggest the comments stand in stark contrast to LePage’s mantra of being a pro-jobs and pro-business governor.
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