Demonstrators protest against Record Hill wind project

Demonstrators protest against Record Hill wind project

Posted Aug. 25, 2011, at 7:48 p.m.

NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine — Anti-wind energy activists were late to meet trucks carrying equipment to the Record Hill LLC project in Roxbury on Thursday, but that didn’t silence them.

“We’ve had a lot of support here from the public,” said David Corrigan of Concord Township, who is a registered Maine Master Guide. “We’ve had a lot of waves, a lot of honks and lots of people yelling to keep it up.”

About two dozen protesters held up signs near Veterans Park, where state Routes 139 and 8 and U.S. Routes 2 and 201A converge.

The protest was scheduled to start at 11 a.m., but it was too late to meet the wind turbine equipment passing through.

“They had four trucks go through early this morning,” said Rob Gardiner, president of Record Hill Wind. “They were late to the party.”

Four trucks escorted by Maine State Police troopers carried sections of the tower, blades and one cell, the biggest and heaviest component. The trip from Searsport to Roxbury in Oxford County is taken primarily on smaller state highways, mainly to avoid overpasses.

Why sections passed through Norridgewock when they did was unknown to those interviewed.

“My thought is that we did our best [estimating] when the trucks might go through Norridgewock based on the delivery schedule we were given,” said Citizens Task Force on Wind Power spokesman Brad Blake. “Either they knew we were going to be there, so they left earlier so they could get through, or they juggled their schedule for some reason. We have no way of knowing.”

“It’s a pretty tightly scheduled thing with the state police escorts that we need,” said Gardiner. “We set a schedule and we try to stick with it. I just don’t know if we were able to stick to the schedule today.”

Thursday was chosen as the date of the protest because that was the day Willow Cordes-Eklund was scheduled to begin serving a 10-day jail sentence in Farmington for failure to disperse in a June 2010 protest against a wind energy project in Kibby Township. She handcuffed herself to a semi.

“It’s a price to pay for my voice to be heard as a concerned citizen that is doing nothing other than trying to protect the wilderness and give a voice to the trees and the wildlife that isn’t recognized in our current justice system,” said the 27-year-old Minneapolis native.

She spent the day protesting before reporting to jail at 6 p.m.

“[It’s] a last little hurrah before going in,” she said.

Though the protest groups are vocal and well organized, Gardiner said they don’t represent how most Mainers think about wind power.

“The problem with the protests is it’s a relatively small group of people who are opposed to all wind energy in Maine,” said Gardiner. “People have protested all of the other projects, but all the public opinion surveys say that 80 percent of Mainers favor wind energy. That comes out consistently in poll after poll after poll.”

The trucks carrying the turbine components are scheduled to travel the same route through the end of October, according to Blake. The project calls for 22 turbines.

“This will be the seventh [project] in the state,” said Jeremy Payne, executive director of theMaine Renewable Energy Association. “We’ll be north of 200 turbines in Maine at the end of this project.”


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(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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"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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