Portland Daily Sun Commentary: Energy speculators ruining Maine's mountains for subsidies and tax breaks need to be stopped

The Crash Report: The Answer is Not Blowing In the Wind

Commentary: The energy speculators ruining Maine's mountains for subsidies and tax breaks need to be stopped.

(The Portland Daily Sun welcomes feedback on this commentary. Please send feedback tonews@portlanddailysun.me or post at our Facebook page.)

The final leg to the summit of Partridge Peak, elevation 1,985 feet, in northern Oxford County, is an easy walk, thanks to the massive road built to handle the huge bulldozers, excavators, cranes and other heavy-duty construction rigs necessary to destroy a four-mile ridgeline of mountain tops. To the west and below is Roxbury Pond, surrounded by miles of working forest. Hills, slopes and peaks of various heights and girth rise from the landscape, reaching for the vast Maine sky. To the east, Mount Blue. To the north, Tumbledown. To the south, Whitecap, Black and the Twin Mountains.
Partridge Peak, and the adjoining Flathead Mountain and Record Hill, offer amazing panoramas and breathtaking views of bucolic Maine countryside, provided you can ignore the constant growl and rumble of the 22 giant wind turbines atop the three linked ridgelines. These 325-foot tall white monsters are four times the height of the Portland Observatory on Munjoy Hill. Or one-and-a-half times the height of Franklin Towers, Maine's tallest building.
 
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Comment by Whetstone_Willy on July 22, 2012 at 5:43am

Good morning Lindsay,

As a looker into the legislature primarily through the keyhole of wind power, I have often thought that there are many other keyholes - other subject areas - where we'd see similar things. So my hope is that other citizens in Maine are being intensely vigilant in these other areas.

You hit it on the head with the Energy and Utilities Committee. The one we've had has kept good bills from ever getting to the legislature and part of that was Chairman Stacey Fitts and two others, Alex Du Houx and Jon Hinck. The good news is all three will be gone next session.

It is vital we work to make sure the wind industry does not get to install more conflicted legislators on this critical committee.

From a post last year:

Stacey Fitts, co-chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, works for Kleinschmidt Associates, an engineering, licensing, environmental service firm offering specialized technical services to the renewable industry.

Co-Chair Fitts was quoted in the February 7, 2011 Sun-Journal as saying "Everyone wants to find the conflict, the snake in the grass. But every legislator in the building is conflicted if you were to take that same standard and apply it to everyone else. It’s the nature of being part-time legislators."

But what happens when the legislator’s employer actively approves of its employee’s work as a legislator and perhaps encourages such legislative endeavors to exceed simple part-time work? As can be seen above, Kleinschmidt’s website brazenly boasts, “we have been very active in the development of state regulations in Maine where one of Kleinschmidt’s engineers is a member of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force.

The following is the definition of Conflict of Interest from the Maine Government website:

"The Legislative Ethics Law lists several situations involving a conflict of interest. These include situations in which a Legislator or a member of the Legislator’s immediate family has a unique and distinct interest in legislation, or accepts or engages in employment that could impair the Legislator’s judgment. In some cases, a conflict can exist if the employer or client of a Legislator — or another person or organization in close economic association with the Legislator — has a direct financial interest in legislation."

Other possible conflicts on this committee:

Jon Hinck is married to Juliet Browne who is a lawyer and partner at Verill Dana whose main practice deals with the defense of wind power companies .She has been extremely busy in the past few years representing wind developers on the local level, before Maine DEP ,and LURC and defending the companies in numerous appeals and lawsuits . She has represented First Wind, TransCanada and Independence Wind and is quite possibly the wind industry’s leading attorney in Maine.

Alex Cornell du Houx, an avid supporter of wind power, is the outreach coordinator of the Truman National Security Project. This organization states a deep philosophical belief that climate change is a national security threat. On that subject one of their position papers includes the following statement concerning the threat of climate change to our country’s national security, "Even if you do not have complete information, you still need to take action! Waiting for 100% certainty during a crisis can be disastrous." That sounds awfully like, “Shoot first then ask questions “. A sister organization of the Truman National Security Project is Operation Free, where Mr. Du Houx serves as Campaign Director. Operation Free lists as its first core motivational principal “get America running on clean energy”. In fact, the organization’s logo prominently features industrial wind turbines.

- WW

Comment by Brad Blake on July 21, 2012 at 10:21pm

A little embellishment to Crash Barry's excellent piece.  When he describes at the beginning the surrounding mountains, he didn't make an important point.  He mentions Mt. Blue, but doesn't remind people this is a STATE PARK that now has a view of industrial turbines.  Tumbledown, one of Maine's gems, preserved with money from the Land for Maine's Future bond money--state taxpayer money.  Whitecap, to the south has its summit and access preserved by the Mahoosuc Land Trust, again, using money from the Land for Maine's Future fund.  He doesn't mention the prominence of Baldpate Mt., across Roxbury Pond from this travesty, that has more than a mile of the Appalachian Trail (part of the National Park Service) above timberline, looking out at the turbines.  He also doesn't mention that Twin and Black Mts. were slated for turbines by First Wind until the people of Rumford passed a restrictive wind ordinance.  My point?  If more industrial wind sites like Record Hill are developed, we will be encircling the treasures of our state that we have preserved at considerable expense to the taxpayers with turbines that are the size of Boston skyscrapers. 

Which brings me to a bit of a correction for Mr. Barry.  Record Hill Wind is using Siemens SWG-2.3-93 turbines, which have an 80 meter tower and 45 meter blade, so the base to apex of the blade is more than 125 meters, or 410 feet, not 325 feet as Mr. Barry reports.  That makes each turbine more than twice as tall as Franklin Towers, at 204 feet tall, the tallest building in Maine.  We should line Back Cove with them so all the Portland people who support wind could get a good idea of how monstrous and "out of scale" (a favorite term of Portlanders about any development in their urban core!) these machines are on top of mountain ridges in Maine.  Since we cannot do that, I offer this link to a web album of photos of Record Hill Wind from my hike in May.  The pictures to go with Crash Barry's words.  https://picasaweb.google.com/101554457531034815464/RecordHillWindPr...#  Below is a photo from Record Hill.

Comment by Whetstone_Willy on July 21, 2012 at 9:58pm

There are plans on the drawing boards that would bring near 500' tall wind monstrosities closer and closer to Katahdin such as Island Falls, Shin Pond, Stacyville and Sherman. What a letdown for hikers on the Tableland, the Knife Edge, Pamola and Baxter Peaks. What a nightmare for everyone who lives or recreates to the east of Katahdin who treasure the views, peace and tranquility.

The carpetbaggers treat Maine as if it were a third world nation.

Pauperization.

Comment by Brad Blake on July 21, 2012 at 9:47pm

Lindsay, with all due respect, industrial wind should be banned.  Period.  It comes nowhere near living up to the 20 years of hype from the windustry and people are waking up to the plethora of negative issues regarding wind.  Those of us who have been at this battle for 4 or 5 years now have discredited every point that the wind industry propaganda has put out.  That's why they are reduced to screaming the "jobs" mantra to try to save the Production Tax Credit.  You never, ever see First Wind touting performance because it is so miserable that in the real, unsubsidized world, they would never compete.  They tout jobs and spending.  Yeah, right, all the components that make up the largest cost of a project are imported.  In the Rollins project the steel for the towers, though fabricated in the US was imported; the nacelles have "made in China" on the GE nameplate, and the BDN made a big story when the blades arrived in Eastport from Brazil.  Your tax money propping up foreign economies and subsidies, RECs & mandates propping up the windustry.

One of the biggest flaws of developing wind was dramatically shown last week, while I was vacationing at the family cottage on Silver Lake in Lee, one of the host communities to the Rollins Wind site of First Wind.  It was hot all over New England, causing ISO New England on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to have the largest demand of the year.  What were the Rollins turbines doing?  Sitting braked or in free spin in the slight breeze that was around.  Every time I saw them, which, as omnipresent as the 40 turbines are, was way too often, not a single megawatt was produced by wind when we most needed it!  Instead, F P & L burned oil at Cousins Island to produce the needed electricity and when that plant fires, it is the largest single source of air pollution in Maine.  "Green" energy to the rescue!?  What a farce!  You can go to the ISO-New England website and see the numbers for that week.  As  electricity demand rose, wind's contribution to the grid plummeted!  Lindsay and others, the more you dig into industrial wind, the more you will confirm there is no place for it in Maine.

The photo is Rollins turbines & Mt. Katahdin

Comment by Long Islander on July 21, 2012 at 7:33pm

The pdf at the following link shows quantitatively why messing Maine and Mainers up with this useless power source is a very imbalanced tradeoff. The document uses NRCM's own math so the wind industry and wind cheer leader NRCM have not been able to dismiss it.

NRCM_CO2_From_a_Different_Point_of_View.pdf

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."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

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

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(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 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From 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?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From 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.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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