HOULTON, Maine – If you’re working on new energy construction projects that are friendlier to the environment, how do you know where to build them so they won’t have a harmful impact on wildlife? That is a question that Sarah Haggerty and the Maine Audubon Society have been trying to answer.
Maine Audubon sees one of the most pressing concerns regarding climate change as the impact it has on wildlife and natural habitats. As climate zones shift due to the increase in overall warming of Earth, some species may be adversely affected through habitat changes or new invasive species may threaten the local wildlife population, Haggerty, a conservation biologist with the organization, said.
To combat this, Maine Audubon sees construction and installations of cleaner energy sources – such as wind and solar – as necessary to help reduce the harmful effects of carbon dioxide emissions on the environment.
Besides being a conservation biologist, Haggerty also specializes in working with data mapping using Geographic Information Systems. Using this mapping, she has marked out areas that she has determined are safe locations to build wind farms, without negatively affecting the environment.
“There’s an online map where you can go in and look and see where the wind resources are, at different hub heights – which are the tower heights, essentially – and where the natural resources are,” Haggerty said. “It’s really more to give that big picture – this conceptual idea that there’s plenty of room in Maine where you can put good high-quality wind and energy projects without necessarily impacting the natural resources that we’re trying to protect.”
The map looks at the entire state and highlights all areas with wind speeds of more than six and half meters per second, the necessary level necessary to be considered commercially viable for wind energy. It then imposes that over nearby significant wildlife areas with regulatory oversight, as well as locations of vulnerable and endangered species – such as the Bicknell’s thrush, a rare bird found in mountainous areas – that may otherwise make good areas for wind farms.
Haggerty and Maine Audubon are looking to do the same type of mapping for solar siting projects in the state. They’ve also joined a broad coalition of solar developers, environmental and agricultural nonprofits and some state agencies to advocate for more solar power generation in the state. The group succeeded in getting legislation passed and signed into law in the last session to advance solar policies in the state.
Haggerty said there are more restrictions for siting solar farms than wind farms because of the need for existing energy infrastructure, such as electric transmission lines. But she plans to release a new map in the next few weeks showing areas that Maine Audubon consider safe sites to build solar projects without disrupting wildlife.
“Solar is about to explode in the landscape of Maine and we want to see that, but again we want to see that in the right places,” she said.
With wildlife areas ruled out, many of the suitable solar project sites are on land owned by farmers and already cleared for agriculture. In Aroostook County, that land is in large tracts and often close to the infrastructure needed for solar energy to succeed.
Those farmers can be compensated for their land, with incentives such as the Rural Energy for America Program available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which offers grants to farmers who allow renewable energy to be built on their land.
“Farmers usually contact me because they’ve seen their neighbors do the same thing so they get interested in it,” said Dale Roy, owner of Maine Solar and Wind, a company based in Fort Kent that does solar installations around Aroostook County.
One such project is a 945-panel solar installation located on private farm property in Caribou – one of the biggest projects in the state. “I’m busy enough that I don’t go out and look for work,” Roy said.
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But Mr. Blake, they will work, exactly when we won't need them. What is wrong with that?
Well, we don't need agricultural lands. They only grow food for people to eat, and we don't need food. Right? Birds don't need air space to fly in. Their habititat is expendable.Right, Audubon? Isn't this convenient? We can put these wind and solar factories wherever we want to because we don't care about birds, or eating. I'm sure the birds don't care if they live or die, nor do we care if we live or die. Right? As long as we're saving the planet, that's what's really important. Perish the thought of nuclear with its small footprint and big power output. In fact, we should go back to the days of sailing ships and sealing wax. Oh and by the way, I live in Fort Kent on a remote mountain with solar power that provides me with enough wattage to power a few LED lights and my laptop and my deep well pump. And I can guarantee that any solar array up here will be basically useless six months of the year. Ditto wind turbines. (Remember UMPI?) These energy sources are for people who live way off grid and have no other choices. But most of us have choices. Let's make good, sensible science based enrgy decisions that protect our wild places, our wildlife, and this planet.
If people look to Audubon for answers they will never get the truth. The reason is because this organization abandoned science over 20 years ago for money. And this green money they are basking in has restriction or gag orders that will not let them tell the truth.
For green energy corporations and investors, rigging peer reviewed research and avoiding science, has been the MO used to dupe trillions from taxpayers for a worthless green energy industry. That’s why the public still doesn’t know that wind energy couldn’t possibly exist without other energy sources running the grid, that electric cars have nothing to do with wind, that virtually all green energy being sold, is really energy from other sources, and fake green research has been hiding tens of millions of bird fatalities annually.
Rigging numbers has been incredibly profitable for this Enron based industry and that’s why they do it. This industry’s “Green Energy” impact research is a perfect example. This research is supposed to be used to compensate for residual negative effects on biodiversity. But by rigging this research and getting others like Audubon and universities to never question it, has saved this industry in America hundreds of billions in offsetting mitigation. This is the disgusting new face of Audubon.
If communities really want to stop these wind energy scammers, pass ordinances that require real research. Otherwise be ready to challenge the fake research and drag them into court. The reasons, all "their" (Industry and Interior Dept) research with its strict gag orders for employees, are designed to hide wind energy's horrific impacts. Communities should never let developers sell them a project and then con you again with their "standardized" but fraudulent research.
And of course to keep the bucks rolling in, wealthy conservation groups like Audubon and RSPB will make sure they won't conduct any truly scientific research that would disclose wind energy's hideous impacts.
So wrong in so many ways! Had the state adhered to NREL mapping to begin with, the heinous "Wind Energy Act" (PL 661) never would have been imposed on the state. Now we have hundreds of poorly performing wind turbines and there is that relentless drive to keep adding more. Regarding solar arrays in Aroostook County, or anywhere in Maine for that matter, Audubon conveniently disregards the heavy snowfall that smothers these things. I have yet to know of any solar array in a snowbelt region that employs people to clear snow off them! So they want to put solar arrays where this photo from 2019 comes from, near Caribou in Aroostook County. How stupid!
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