Aroostook farming leaders fear solar projects will steal prime potato land

by Paula Brewer January 7, 2022


PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Aroostook County’s farmers aren’t sacrificing soil for solar yet, but the potato industry and farm preservationists are keeping close tabs on Maine’s largest tracts of prime growing land.

Alternative energy developers have targeted some of Maine’s farmland as ideal sites to set up power arrays, because they favor large pieces of land that are easy to access, flat and located close to power transmission lines.

Aroostook boasts the largest parcels of farm acreage in the state, so any loss of tillable soil means a hit to the state’s potato industry. Both the Maine Potato Board and the Maine Farmland Trust are increasingly wary as more solar arrays pop up.

“I think everyone in agriculture has a concern — a valid concern — about siting those on prime farmland, because farmland is a perishable commodity,” Don Flannery, Maine Potato Board executive director, said Wednesday. “Once you start taking prime farmland out for other uses, you can’t get it back.”

In 2020, Maine’s potato crop — its highest grossing crop, with blueberries coming in second — yielded 265 hundredweight per acre, worth $152 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Final figures aren’t yet available for the 2021 crop, but the record harvest yielded 345 hundredweight per acre.

Flannery said he is not opposed to solar power, but cautioned that both developers and the people whose land they want to use should be selective.

Concern in other parts of the state prompted legislation that led to the formation of the Agricultural Solar Stakeholder Group in the Governor’s Energy Office, which focuses on responsible siting of energy developments.

The stakeholder group met in the summer and fall and expects to present recommendations to the state Legislature later this month.

Most of the large solar projects in Aroostook aren’t located on what is now considered prime farmland, but on land that is non-viable for growing or that has been out of the farming rotation for a number of years, Flannery said.

“There are some growers that have been approached, and for the most part, haven’t looked at that as a viable option right now on their prime farmland,” he said.

Though the potato board has been following the discussions downstate, it has opted to see what path the issue will take.

The Maine Farmland Trust is watching, too, and has set guidelines for nudging solar developers away from prime farmland. Its website lists recommendations for solar project sites, including keeping prime farmland for agricultural purposes.

“In 2019 when legislation was passed that opened the door for a large-scale increase in solar development, we started getting calls from tons of farmers who were being contacted by solar developers looking to site solar installations on their land,” Ellen Griswold, policy and research director at the trust, said Wednesday.

Though economic development and consumer factors are important, Griswold said developers should also consider the impact energy projects would have on agricultural resources as part of their site evaluation criteria.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission issued a request for proposals in June to build transmission lines in northern Maine, along with some renewable energy generation projects................

Continue reading at: https://bangordailynews.com/2022/01/07/news/aroostook-farming-leade...

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Comment by Penny Gray on January 10, 2022 at 10:23am

Interesting that there's no mention of wind developers vying for the same easy to access and develop farmlands.  They were up here in the County signing willing farmers onto the wind wagon a decade ago or better.

Comment by Dudley G. Gray on January 9, 2022 at 5:22pm

It's the same old story ,wind and solar equally destructive of  Maine land. Farmland or mountaintops.

As for solar we have the recent destruction of 445 acres of south facing farmland along route 2 in Farmington.  This is a 300,000 panel array by Nextera, the crony capitalist parasitic corporation that wants to build 133 unit wind farm in Oxford and Franklin counties remote townships.

Comment by Donna Amrita Davidge on January 9, 2022 at 4:18pm
First wind turbines ruining 2 pristine aroostook lakes and more now this? Sigh .. can we please keep our land .. and wildlife already so impacted by various things
Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on January 9, 2022 at 8:33am

This is why Aroostook farming communities should develop local ordinances preventing corporate invasions they wish to prevent. Before the Feds and the State sign their rights away thus making them the last in line left to beg for prevention for several years to no avail. 

Comment by Willem Post on January 9, 2022 at 7:49am

“BUILD BACK BETTER” WOULD COST $4.490 TRILLION OVER THE NEXT DECADE, IF PROVISIONS WERE MADE TO LAST 10 YEARS

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/build-back-better-woul...

 

I am not surprised at the lack of public trust in Washington, DC, and elsewhere. The games of smoke and mirrors played in Washington are off-the-charts outrageous.

 

Never, ever, has there been such a level of deceit, as Democrats have inflicted on the US People, since January 2021, using a controversial election in 2020 (see Appendix), to obtain government power, to relentlessly implement:

 

- An increased size and intrusiveness of the federal government

- A major change in US demographics by means of just-walk-in, anybody-is-welcome, open borders

- Increased Democrat command/control over the federal government and the American people to “Remake America”

 

However, Dem/Progs made a major mistake.

 

- They intended to use top-down, command/control of the very-inefficient federal government to very-expensively “Remake America”.

- Their strategy is a highly un-American approach, significantly different from the history of US economic development.

- They never mentioned the words “private enterprise”.

 

In contrast, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” specifically did not rely on government. MAGA relied on:

 

- Eliminating business-stifling government rules and regulations

- Freeing up the creative energies of the American people

- Putting America and the American people first again, within secure borders

 

BBB Intended and Unintended Consequences

 

The BBB bill has a dual-purpose, 1) a society-transforming increase in social program spending, and 2) remaking the US energy sector. Democrats aim to use BBB to promote political patronage and transfers of wealth from lower- and middle-income taxpayers in red states, to upper middle-class and wealthy residents in blue states.

This approach is anything but progressive and likely would be reversed after the next election. See URL

https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/588576-bidens-build-back-better...

 

BBB would:

 

1) Increase US energy costs, because of increased, already-generous subsidies (tax credits, rebates, grants) for:

 

- Unreliable, weather/wind/sun-dependent, variable/intermittent wind and solar energy, which would end up greatly increasing the costs of dealing with grid instabilities, as has happened in Germany, etc., which has the highest household electric rates in Europe. The increased subsidies largely would benefit wealthy, Democrat, coastal elites.

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/high-costs-of-wind-sol...

 

- Expensive/unaffordable/less-useful electric vehicles, that are known to surprise by catching fire, 2) perform poorly and have low efficiency in colder climates.

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/chevy-bolt-catches-fir...

 

According to University of Chicago research, most of the $18 billion in federal income tax credits disbursed to date were used for, a) weatherization of U.S. households, b) residential net-metered solar that produces extremely expensive electricity, and c) electric vehicles, including wasteful government experiments with electric school and transit buses.

 

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/electric-bus-systems-l...

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/i-95-ice-storm-overnig...

 

2) Provide a tax cut for higher-income households in blue states by increasing the state and local tax deduction (SALT) from $10,000 to $80,000

 

PHASE 1; BBB PROGRAMS HAVE VARIOUS EXPIRATION DATES TO UNDERSTATE COST 

 

BBB Bill “Shaping” and Cost Estimating

 

The cost of the original BBB bill was $6.0 trillion, as crafted by extreme-leftist Sanders, Chairman of the US Senate Budget Committee. When his proposals proved to be a non-starter, he was told to “whittle it down” to an alleged $3.5 trillion, which, he declared, was the “absolute minimum”. See Note.

 

Whittled down means, he shortened the duration of some programs from 10 years to 1 year, or 2 years, etc., as explained in next sections. See table 4

 

NOTE: Sanders is a life-long admirer of Big-Government Communism and Socialism, who celebrated his honeymoon in the USSR, i.e., before the Iron Curtain came down

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/video-of-shirtless-Sanders-...

 

BBB Overwhelmingly a Big-Government Social Program Bill

 

The cost of 16 social programs would be $3.477 trillion, or 77.5% of $4.490 trillion, if all programs last 10 years

Two of the 16 social programs would represent 67.3% of the social program cost. See table 1

 

Table 1/Social Programs

Start 2022 - End 2031

Start 2022 - End 2032

10 years

10 years

Program

  $Billion

  $Billion

Expanded child tax credit (CTC)

1597

Expanded child care and preschool

752

Total, per CBO

2349

Total all social programs, per CBO

3477

Allocated interest

129

206

Total

2478

3683

Total, %

67.3

Comment by Willem Post on January 9, 2022 at 7:49am

“BUILD BACK BETTER” WOULD COST $4.490 TRILLION OVER THE NEXT DECADE, IF PROVISIONS WERE MADE TO LAST 10 YEARS

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/build-back-better-woul...

Regressive Natural Gas Tax, on Top of Gasoline Price Increases, on Top of High Inflation

 

At a time when the Biden administration is panicking in an attempt to keep energy prices down, the US House has slapped a BBB "fee", aka "stealth tax", on natural gas and everyone who uses it.


The BBB bill results in an "escalating tax on methane emissions by oil and gas producers," a new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal points out. The tax will hit $1,500 per ton by 2025, and the fee is supposed to be a contribution to recent promises made in Glasgow COP26 to curb methane emissions.


The cost of the fee will be passed along to the consumer, which will result in even higher energy prices than consumers are already struggling with. About 180 million Americans use natural gas for cooking and heating their homes, the report says.


The Energy Information Administration (EIA) stated about 50% of US households that use natural gas will pay 30% more this winter, than last year. The methane tax would add another 17% on top of that.


The WSJ op-ed board calls it a "regressive tax" and states the "Department of Energy notes the average energy burden for lower-income families would be three times higher than for higher income households".


The methane tax "exposes the contradiction at the heart of Democratic climate policy" and clearly violates President Biden's promise not to raise taxes on those making less than $400,000 per year, the op-ed argues.


The op-ed concludes, once the methane tax is in place, it'll be easy to increase it over time. Combined with new methane regulations, the cost of gas would increase even more.


The methane tax is "targeted, punitive, and will increase household gas bills," the op-ed concludes.


https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/bidens-new-regressive-methane-tax...

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/biden-s-new-regressive...

Comment by Willem Post on January 9, 2022 at 7:47am

“All-in” Electricity Cost of Wind and Solar in New England

 

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/high-costs-of-wind-sol...

http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cost-shifting-is-the-na...

 

Pro RE folks point to the “price paid to owner” as the cost of wind and solar, purposely ignoring the other cost categories. The all-in cost of wind and solar, c/kWh, includes:

 

1) Above-market-price paid to Owners 

2) Subsidies paid to Owners

3) Owner return on invested capital at about 9%/y

4) Grid extension/augmentation

5) Grid support services

6) Future battery systems

 

Comments on table 6

   

- Vermont legacy Standard Offer solar systems had greater subsidies paid to owner, than newer systems

 

- Wind prices paid to owner did not have the drastic reductions as solar prices.

 

- Vermont utilities are paid about 3.5 c/kWh for various costs they incur regarding net-metered solar systems

 

- "Added to rate base" is the cost wind and solar are added to the utility rate base, used to set electric rates.

 

- “Total cost”, including subsidies to owner and grid support, is the cost at which wind/solar are added to the utility rate base

 

- “NE utility cost” is the annual average cost of purchased electricity, about 6 c/kWh, plus NE grid operator charges, about 1.6 c/kWh

for a total of 7.6 c/kWh.

 

- “Grid support costs” would increase with increased use of battery systems to counteract the variability and intermittency of increased build-outs of wind and solar systems.

 

NOTES:

1) NE wholesale grid price averaged about 5 c/kWh, starting in 2009, due to low-cost CCGT and nuclear plants providing at least 65% of all electricity loaded onto the NE grid, in 2019.

 

https://www.iso-ne.com/about/key-stats/resource-mix/

https://nepool.com/uploads/NPC_20200305_Composite4.pdf


2) There are Owning costs, and Operating and Maintenance costs, of the NE grid

ISO-NE charges these costs to utilities at about 1.6 c/kWh. The ISO-NE charges include: 

 
Regional network services, RNS, based on the utility peak demand occurring during a month

Forward capacity market, FCM, based on the utility peak demand occurring during a year.

 

Table 6/VT & NE sources

Paid to

Subsidy

Grid

GMP

 Added

ISO-NE

Total

NE

Times

 

 

paid to

support

 

to rate

RNS+

 

utility

 

owner

towner

cost

adder

base

FCM

cost

cost

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

c/kWh

Solar, rooftop, net-metered, new

17.4

5.2

2.1

3.5

20.9

1.6

29.8

7.6

3.92

Solar, rooftop, net-metered, legacy

18.2

5.4

2.1

3.5

21.7

1.6

30.8

7.6

4.05

Solar, standard offer, combo

11.0

6.74

2.1

11.0

1.6

21.44

7.6

2.82

Solar, standard offer, legacy

21.7

10.5

2.1

21.7

1.6

35.9

7.6

4.72

Wind, ridge line, new

9.0

4.1

2.4

9.0

1.6

17.1

7.6

2.25

Wind, offshore, new

12.1

5.4

2.8

12.1

1.6

21.9

7.6

2.88

 

Sample calculation; NE utility cost = 6, Purchased + 1.6, (RNS + FCM) = 7.6 c/kWh

Sample calculation; Added to utility base = 17.4 + 3.5 = 20.9 c/kWh

Sample calculation; Total cost = 17.4 + 5.2 + 2.1 + 3.5 + 1.6 = 29.8 c/kWh

 

Excludes costs for very expensive battery systems

Excludes costs for very expensive floating, offshore wind systems

Excludes cost for dealing with shortfalls during multi-day wind/solar lulls. See URL

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/wind-and-solar-provide...

 

“Added to rate base” is for recent 20-y electricity supply contracts awarded by competitive bidding in NE.

“Added to rate base” would be much higher without subsidies and cost shifting.

Areas with better wind and solar conditions, and lower construction costs/MW have lower c/MWh, than NE

Comment by Willem Post on January 9, 2022 at 7:46am

EXCERPT from:

 

“BUILD BACK BETTER” WOULD COST $4.490 TRILLION OVER THE NEXT DECADE, IF PROVISIONS WERE MADE TO LAST 10 YEARS
https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/build-back-better-woul...

 

BBB Bill is a Trojan Horse

 

The BBB bill consists of two parts: 

1) A huge social program bill
2) An energy/environment/SALT bill

 

The total cost of the social programs would be $3.477 trillion, or 3477/4490 = 77.5% of $4.490 trillion

 

The social programs would be 3,477/889 = 3.9 times more expensive, if budgeted for 10 years.
US debt adder would be 160 + 73, interest = $233 billion, with “gimmick” expirations to understate costs.
US debt adder would be 2,748 + 266, interest = $3.014 trillion, with 10-y expiration dates

 

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

 

A CTC was enacted as part of COVID relief. It was meant to be temporary, from Jul. 2020 to Dec. 2020
During that time, the US treasure sent more than $80 billion, in direct deposits, to every household with children, $300/child/mo.

Household with incomes up to $150,000 qualified for the full $300/child; if greater household income, the CTC would decrease to as low as $166/child/mo.

 

CBO estimated extending CTC for 2022 at $185 billion, and $1,597 billion for 10 years
CBO estimated Expanded Child Care and Pre-school at $752 billion for 10 years. See table 4

 

Sanders has been advocating both programs for decades, because that was done in the more Socialist countries of Europe. He does not mention, rich Europe spends about 1% of GDP on defense, whereas the US spends about 4.5%, about $780 billion/y, plus $50 billion/y for intelligence.

 

Democrats Ignoring Precarious Financial Condition of Medicare

 

“The Medicare Trustees Report estimated that Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will be insolvent in 2026. At that point, the fund will have to rely on incoming revenues, essentially operating on a cash-flow basis—and there won’t be enough cash.”
https://vermontdailychronicle.com/2021/12/17/medicare-four-years-to...

Comment by Willem Post on January 9, 2022 at 7:46am

Widespread Environmental Destruction due to BBB bill

 

If Biden’s $4.490-trillion BBB bill becomes law, there would be a vast amount of environmental devastation all over the US, including:

 

1) On hundreds of miles of pristine, 2,000-ft-high ridge lines, for mounting 500-ft high wind turbines, in New England. The video shows the massive destruction require to install 500-ft high wind turbines on ridge lines in New England.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSgVpz_7dDg

 

2) On at least 100 square miles of New England meadow land for mounting solar systems, that would produce almost nothing for a few days, after a snow fall, and nothing from about 4 pm in winter, and 5 pm in summer, to about 9 am the next day. The video shows the massive destruction required to install a multi-MW solar system on a wooded area with wetlands.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYYVZKgusU4

 

Such destructions would be common-place, and would create huge turmoil among nearby people, all while China, India, etc., continue burning at least 8 billion metric ton of coal, each year, as agreed to during the Glasgow, COP26

https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/wind-and-solar-provide...

 

If all of New England were to disappear, it would not make one bit of difference regarding global warming and climate change.

 

China consumes about 50% of the world’s coal consumption of about 8 billion metric ton

https://yearbook.enerdata.net/coal-lignite/coal-world-consumption-d...

 

Table 5/Coal consumption

2018

2020

Country

Billion metric ton

Billion metric ton

China

3.770

3.830

India

1.010

0.976

US

0.625

0.419

Russia

0.227

0.205

 

NOTE:

Warren Buffett Quote: "I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire's tax rate," Buffet told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska recently. "For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit." 

https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/nancy-pfotenhauer/2014/05/12/e...

 

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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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/

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