Clean energy megaprojects, including in Maine, divide environmentalists

May 3 - By PATRICK WHITTLE, Associated Press -

Sprawling wind farms located off the coast. Hydropower transmission lines that cut through some of America’s most beloved forests and rivers. Solar megaprojects of unprecedented size.

As President Biden’s administration plans to fight climate change by weaning the nation off fossil fuels, these large-scale renewable energy projects are the source of conflict within a seemingly unlikely group: environmentalists.

America’s patchwork of environmental and conservation groups – encompassing players such as public lands advocates, animal welfare proponents and hunting organizations – have disparate opinions about new renewable energy infrastructure and its trade-offs. While all agree on the need for clean power sources, there are deep disputes about the wisdom of projects that will impose their own impact on the environment.

Some argue projects like the planned 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind offshore wind project off New England would kill birds. Others complain that undertakings such as the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express clean power cable, which could start construction this year in New York, would result in losses to valuable ecosystems.

Additional projects, including the approved $1 billion Gemini solar and battery storage project about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas, have sparked debate about whether they are simply too big.

In Maine, a $1 billion hydropower electricity transmission corridor called the New England Clean Energy Connect would cut through sparsely populated western woods. Environmental groups disagree about whether the 145-mile corridor comes at too high a cost in loss of trees and wildlife habitat.

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Local fishing community sounds off on offshore wind  

Credit:  By Ethan Genter | Mount Desert Islander | May 3, 2021 | ~~

AUGUSTA—Hundreds of fishermen gathered in Augusta on April 28 to protest offshore wind development in Maine. 

Several local lobstermen who attended the rally said they have felt left out of a rushed process to get wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine, particularly when it comes to a research array proposed by the Governor in federal waters.  

“We are in favor of renewable technologies, but we don’t feel this is the answer,” said Virginia Olsen, a Stonington lobsterman who organized the rally at the Augusta Civic Center.  

As the rally was getting underway, Gov. Janet Mills unveiled a bill that would enact a 10-year offshore wind development moratorium in state waters while the state officials create a “roadmap” on how and if offshore wind will work in Maine.  

But for many local fishermen who went to the rally, that wasn’t good enough.  

State Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) was one of the rally speakers and he wasn’t surprised by the timing of the bill. To him, it felt like a purely political move while his more stringent proposal for offshore wind had support from the event’s attendees.  

“Her bill isn’t sufficient,” he said. “It kicks it down the road.”  

Faulkingham, a fisherman himself, has filed legislation to stop the state from permitting any offshore wind projects. He had numerous issues with turbines, including their effects on the ocean, the potential cost of their electricity and how they’d be installed and dismantled.  

“They’re basically litter as far as I’m concerned,” he said.  

Chris Moore, a lobsterman out of Northeast Harbor who attended the rally, said he was for alternative energy, but not to the possible detriment of the seafloor, birds, marine life and the fishery.  

“We all need to do our part to help the environment and reduce our carbon usage, but this is not it,” he said.  

The state has proposed to put a research array of no more than 12 floating turbines over 16 square miles in federal waters in order to help study the technology, with an eye toward its electrical generation and potential effects on marine life.  

The research array would have to go through the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy 

Management for approval, a process that could take three to four years. Mills maintains that fishing and offshore wind can co-exist, and the array will show what the potential is.  

State Rep. Genevieve McDonald (D-Stonington) was on board with the Governor’s moratorium on new wind projects in state waters. 

“This bill is part of a thoughtful and balanced approach that recognizes the concerns of the fishing industry while also building a new clean energy future for Maine,” said the representative, who is also a commercial fisherman.

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Comment by Penny Gray on May 6, 2021 at 9:21am

The hypocrisy of the environmental groups is staggering.  None of them cared about the sprawl of wind turbines and transmission lines on our mountains and ridge lines. They were all for it, there wasn't an industrial wind project they didn't support.  It didn't matter that habitat loss and fragmentation is the biggest threat to wildlife.  The ecosystems didn't matter then.  Do they now?  I would say that as long as the power sources they support are the unreliables, wind and solar, the answer is no.

Comment by Richard McDonald/Saving Maine on May 4, 2021 at 8:11am

Will the same environmental groups oppose Sen. Jackson's proposal for the Maine Renewable Energy Interconnect transmission corridor? 


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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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."

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