Dr. Monique Aniel: Wind power’s assault on Maine

Dr. Monique Aniel: Wind power’s assault on Maine


Monique Aniel

Three dozen protesters huddled in ponchos in cold rain, holding signs denouncing First Wind’s turbine construction project in Lincoln on Nov. 5. While most of us stood legally on the side of the road, five brave people intentionally stood in the road, blocking construction traffic, including an 82-year-old man. The arrests that followed have focused much needed attention on the wind industry’s well-planned assault on our state.

The devastation that will result from this assault, thousands of turbines on ridges throughout the state, comes from collusion among three allies — the wind industry (big companies such as General Electric that builds turbines, transformers, smart meters), powerful politicians like Gov. John Baldacci and former Gov. Angus King and environmental groups whose mission has changed from protecting Maine’s environment to saving the planet from climate change. This threesome managed in four years to reverse 40 years of environment and public health protection.

People opposed to the sacrifice of Maine’s landscape have the deck stacked against them. Laws in place prevent citizens from challenging the economic and environmental assumptions used to justify wind power. The cumulative effects of multiple wind projects are ignored by the agencies responsible for protecting our environment and wildlife habitats.

How did this happen?

In 2003, newly elected Gov. Baldacci declares that Maine should become a “leader in climate change.” He orders David Littell, head of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to develop a Climate Change Action Plan to protect Maine from global warming. The result was the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first mandatory cap-and-trade system for CO2 emissions in U.S. history. Littell is the chairman.

Under RGGI, baseload electricity generators are forced to purchase ever-increasing amounts of pollution waivers. The cost, hundreds of millions of dollars to date, is passed on to ratepayers. Some of this money is given to wind developers in the form of renewable energy credits and is an essential subsidy without which wind power would not exist. The rest of the money disappears into numerous state agencies.

Ironically, cap-and-trade has died at the federal level. But RGGI makes electricity more expensive and hurts Maine’s ability to compete with the rest of the country to attract new business.

RGGI was the beginning of many new laws, which slowly legalized the methodical sacrifice of Maine mountains and landscape on the unproved assumption that wind turbines will make a difference to global warming. In 2004, the Legislature directed the Public Utilities Commission to study selected issues regarding wind power development in Maine. In 2005 the PUC recommended that Maine modify its standards “to allow consideration of environmental benefits of wind power,” and that the public be educated about wind power’s climate benefits.

In other words, DEP and Land Use Regulation Commission have given the green light to those who would bulldoze and blast the mountains, kill birds, erect 400-foot wind towers in venerated mountains. And the PUC has been told to allow massive transmissions lines serving remote wind turbine projects to be built at ratepayer expense.

Kurt Adams, friend and chief legal counsel of Gov. Baldacci, became chairman of the PUC. Three years later he would become vice president of transmission for First Wind, the most active wind developer in the state. In fact, while still at the PUC he received stock options from First Wind.

In fall 2007, Gov. Baldacci convened a task force to identify obstacles to wind power and recommend an expedited permitting process. Led by the industry and pro-wind politicians and environmentalist, the task force concocted an absurd and dictatorial report that called for sweeping changes in our environmental laws. It would remove virtually all obstacles to the unconscionable destruction of Maine’s mountains for the benefit of the wind industry.

The concept of “tangible benefits” made it possible for the wind industry to bribe communities with all sorts of promises: new firetrucks, the ability to keep their local schools, free electricity, TIF payments. What was not said was that the money to pay for these things depended on massive subsidies from the federal government, which account for two-thirds of the cost of wind-generated electricity.

Wind power has created deep divisions in Maine’s towns, and some people’s lives have been devastated by turbine noise. Many others are suffering from grief over the destruction of their rural environment.

Confronted with such a stacked deck, the Friends of Lincoln Lakes had no chance to stop this project. We protested the injustice. We will not stop protesting until the laws protecting Maine’s environment are restored and wind turbines are banished from the landscape.

Monique Aniel of Mexico is a retired physician and co-chairwoman of the Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power.
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Comment by Monique Aniel Thurston on November 24, 2010 at 9:24pm
In response to Frank John, the US Energy Information Administration estimates that land based wind power, with a capacity factor of 33%, will have a total cost of generation, including associated transmission lines of $149 per MW for plants entering service in 2016. Advanced combined cycle natural gas generation, which is the driving force behind ISO-NE market rates, is estimated to cost $79.30 per MW.


In order for wind power to compete with natural gas almost half of the cost will need to be subsidized. Today, the real time price for electricity in the ISO-NE market is about $53 per MW and natural gas is the price taker most of the time. Assuming the cost of wind power will be stable because of low inflation and a stable fuel cost (wind has no fuel cost) one could assume that wind power today costs about the same that it is estimated to cost in 2016. The cost of natural gas generation is expected to rise from $53 to $79, presumably because of an anticipated increase in the fuel cost. So today wind power is nearly 3 times as expensive as natural gas, and by 2016 it will still be nearly twice as expensive.

The only way wind can compete is with subsidies and tax benefits. PTCs (or in lieu of PTCs a 30% rebate on all construction costs), RECs, accelerated depreciation, TIF agreements, no sales tax, guaranteed capacity payments (what a joke), long term contracts at well above current market rates (Cape Wind), federal loan guarantees, etc, are all used to reduce the cost for wind investors by taking money from taxpayers or ratepayers and transferring it to the wind industry. Still they are having a hard time in this environment because the gap is simply too big to fill, even with all the subsidies.
Comment by Whetstone_Willy on November 24, 2010 at 9:22pm
Perhaps the best Maine media accounts to date on industrial wind power in Maine were written by the Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting. I believe that anyone new to the issue of industrial wind in Maine would be well served to read these articles:

Ex-PUC head enriched by utility company http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/141729.html

Group asks AG to probe official of First Wind

First Wind SEC filing change questioned http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/143887.html

Some who created wind-power fast track now questioning the goals they set

Task force had mandate to promote wind power, not study it

Wind power law hasn’t prevented development conflicts
Comment by Monique Aniel Thurston on November 24, 2010 at 11:21am
thank you for your comments Gary Campbell , it is very hard to limit such expose of a well thought off scam with so many players within the 700 words constraint of the newpapers limits for oped size.
So comments need to fill in the voluntary gaps compromised for the sake of publication.
A following piece I am working on will retrace the federal sources of this state scam , connecting the present administation , Al Gore ,The DOE , Cathy Zoi , George Soros , Eric Lantz Carl Pope ( executive director of the Sierra club ) and many others .
Nothing happens out of a vacuum , certainly not this absurd idea !
Comment by Gary Campbell on November 24, 2010 at 10:37am
A critical but widely misunderstood component of this "Perfect Storm" is the State's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The RPS establishes a series of annual goals for the utilities of Maine. It culminates in 2017 when 40% of the power they sell must come from renewable sources. Utilities not reaching these artificial goals are forced to buy Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from the wind developers in order to make up the difference. RECs were invented by ENRON and are nothing but paper certificates that cost the wind developers absolutely nothing. For the wind developers selling RECs is tantamount to printing money.

But what if some utility DOES reach the goals? How can we get THEM to send money to the wind developers? Well, our Governor thought of that: the RPS also specifies that 25% of that renewable power must come from renewable sources that have been in operation less than two years. That effectively removes hydropower and tidal power from the equation.

Baldacci's primary goal is to give the wind developers as much of our money as he possibly can. By setting the RPS goals extremely high (by far the highest in the nation) he is effectively taking money from the utilities and putting it directly into the pockets of the developers. Of course, the money the utilities fork over will come straight from the higher utility rates Mainers will pay.

To see how ridiculously high Baldacci set Maine's Standard, go to: www.ppdlw.org/subsidies.htm#rec

I can think of no better plan than this to destroy Maine's business climate and overall economy.

Can you?


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 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."


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