Partial Transcript of a Meeting in Highland Plantation in August, 2010 with Rob Gardiner and Angus King of Independence Wind (Highland Wind LLC)

 

JJo Dunphy, Town Manager:

 

“We’re not going to allow any of the non-residents to speak, because… this is an assessor’s meeting and we have that prerogative.  We can’t have that happen.  If any of these extra folks that are here want to ask questions, they can talk with you outside.”

 

Rob Gardiner:

 

“Uh, can I just ask who are Highland residents here, because those are the ones who are direct—people we were really trying to make sure you understand what we’re presenting…

 

We’re the two, uh, ‘principals’ in Independence Wind and Independence Wind is working with land-owner and land manager Wagner Forest and Bayroot…on the wind project so we’re representing that group of all of us, but Angus and I are the ones who are here.    We are--You’ve seen all of Independence Wind right here this morning.  That’s all there is.  Uh, I think you know we’ve planning this for a long time.  And we had a LURC application for a 48 turbine project that we submitted last, uh, I can’t even remember when we submitted it.  But there were some issues that were brought up and some opposition that came out in that process which made us take a step back—which is why you’ve haven’t heard too much from us recently and reconsider some of the elements of our project.  Uh, and you’ve been reading about the Kibby project expansion probably which has been in front of LURC.  And uh, the history of wind projects in Maine has been--in the regulatory process-- has been uneven.  There’s been areas where it was difficult, then it looked like they were giving out permits more readily, and recently we’ve seen the LURC process be quite rigorous on some different new issue in the Kibby process and so we’re learning from that what we think will be necessary to get our project approved.  Angus and I, when we started this business, decided we were going to do wind projects right and we were going to do them in a way that would get permitted readily and avoid the big ugly fights like they had in Redington with that project.  And so as  we’ve watched the changing regulatory landscape, we’re adjusting in order to succeed.

 

“So we’re preparing to resubmit a modified application—probably in October.  So, we don’t have all of our decisions made yet, but we’ve been working for a number of months and we’re getting close to making these decisions, so we’re updating you and then we’ll probably come back here in about a month when we have made these decisions and we can give you sort of final answers that I can’t give you today.

 

“But we’re going to take some of the turbines we’d originally planned off Stewart Mountain because it was perfectly obvious that the Appalachian Trail interests were going to turn that into a big, big fight…And that’s what I had said we had designed in order to avoid.  So, details to be worked out but it will be a somewhat smaller  project, uh, not quite so many turbines—so, we’re thinking it might be down from 48 to 39, currently.  It may go back up to a little into the forties, but we’re just finalizing that in the next few weeks.  So, it’ll be a little smaller project, that will mean a little less impact, but the design is basically the same.  It just doesn’t go quite so far north.  And it means there’s less cut and fill in some areas, ‘cause there just won’t be work in some areas, but it doesn’t really change very much about the project.  Um, and so, uh, when we talked to the town about the tax impacts, it’ll be a somewhat smaller project… so the tax impact will be a little different…so the numbers we’ll be talking to you about will change a little bit.  Um, and that’s the context, really, um, otherwise, it’s gone very, very well.  All of the technical work that we’d done before has to be adjusted for the change in the turbine locations, but it’ll just mean that our impacts are lower, but we’ve already been working with all the State agencies to do the ‘pre’ work, so that their questions are addressed to which we all have satisfactory answers so that it should not be a difficult process once it gets cranking through the LURC machinery.  That’s what our goal is.

 

“That’s the update on the project, but the wind law changed this spring and Angus is going to talk about that.”

 

….

 

Angus King:

 

“Good morning.  When the wind law was passed in 2007 it had a provision in it that was very unusual.  I think there’s only one other precedent in Maine involving, uh, some other kids of projects.  But it said that a wind project, when it’s, it goes through the regulatory process, not only has to meet all the regulatory rules but it has to provide tangible benefits to the state.  The terms they used was ‘tangible benefits’.  And so you had to supply information about how many jobs would be created, what the tax impacts would be and all those things.  The only guidance about what tangible benefits were was that word ‘tangible benefits’.  So this winter, Peter Mills, as a matter of fact, introduced a bill to put some detail on that and it went through the legislative process and ultimately, what emerged was that the tangible benefits had to total at least $4,000.00 per turbine.  That, that was the number.  Uh, and for the first time, we sort of had a target.  And there were vari—the law provides various ways of… of what counts toward that.  Uh, and you can provide all of the benefits to the host community, which in this case would be Highland, or the benefits can be spread among the host community and other affected areas in terms of land conservation.  Uh, so what we’re here really this morning to do is to let you know where we are (and I’ll give you some sort of summary notes when we’re done) on this benefits package and what it really means to Highland.  

 

“The first piece that doesn’t fall within the ‘$4,000.00 per turbine’-- but it’s important-- is taxes.  And the…the, the summary is (and we’ll give you a detailed sheet)—we’re working on all the ins and outs of County taxes and all that, but the conclusion is that your…the tax rate in Highland will fall from around 15 mils to around 3… Uh, and, we will then, and essentially, the people of Highland are now paying something like $131,000.00 for their taxes (unintelligible)…we’ll be paying $104,000.00 of that $131,000.00.  In other words, the people of Highland—taxes will go down by about 80% and that’s after a big increase in County taxes, the loss of revenue sharing and school funding, and so, it’s net of that; in other words, it’ll be a huge tax cut…Roughly, I think the figure on a $210million project is, it will pay 82% of that.  The local taxpayers’ taxes will go down by 82%.  A $90,000.00 house, now, I think, I can’t remember now—something like $1,300.00 a year will go down to $260.00, so there’s a very significant tax benefit that’s worth about a hundred, a little over $100,000.00.  So that’s ‘number one’.

 

“Number two; we said all along that we would do in Highland what we’ve done in Roxbury, which as far as we know is the only time anybody’s done this in the country on a wind project, and that is to provide free power to the residents.  I use the word ‘power’ because the residents would still pay CMP the delivery charge, which is about 1/3 of (unintel) and we’d pay the power part, which is 2/3—right now it’s roughly 10 cents to 4 ½ or 5 cents.  We’d pay the 10 cent part.  Uh… there’s some limits on that, and that is—it’s limited to the first 500 kwhs of electric usage per month, which is the statewide average that people use.  Um, and so it totals about $600.00 per year per house, assuming the house is using average amounts of electricity.  Uh, that would apply to every residence in Highland as of a certain date, December 1st, 2010, uh, including seasonal residents, so that’s everybody in Highland.”

 

RG: “The current existing customers.”

 

JD: “At the time of…”

 

RG: “Say, whatever day we pick, but say September 1st.

 

AK: “Um, so that’s worth, if you total it all up, about $25,000.00 a year to the collective residents.  Uh, and what I’m gonna sharing with you now is, is a new piece, which we’ve been working hard on—and it’s unique as far as I’m concerned, and it’s really designed to focus on the issue of fossil fuel (unintel). Uh, the first piece is taxes, the second is electricity, the third is…we’re going to propose to LURC that part of our benefits package be a one-time grant, to every year-round residents….residence in Highland for $6,000.00 which can only be used for reducing fossils fuels.  Weatherization, solar, electric heat, uh, but the idea is that this would be a fund that everyone in town would get, uh, we haven’t really figured out the details of how it would be administered.  It might be administered through Efficiency Maine Trust or some organization that, you know, that’s their business.  And people would have the choice…you know, how do I spend this?  New windows, insulation, solar domestic hot water or whatever…

 

“But the fourth piece, and this is what we’re really excited about, is that there is a technology called electro-thermal heat and it’s new to—relatively new to Maine, but it’s very widely used in the rest of the world.  New…Nova Scotia uses it and it’s used very widely in Europe—and essentially, it’s pretty straight-forward.  It’s a device that looks like a woodstove or a Monitor heater but it’s full of bricks.  It’s solid.  And there are electric elements in the bricks and what you can do is—at night (and I’ll talk about where the electricity will come from) the thing absorbs electricity and heats up the bricks.  And in the morning the electricity goes off and the bricks radiate the heat during the day.    

 

“It’s a way of using electricity when it’s cheap, which is at night, during the day, when you need heat.  And what we’re proposing is that, if the residents—however many of them ever decide—to use part of their $6,000.00 to buy one of these units, which would be about $2,500.00, we will then, for the life of the project, provide them with electricity which would be the same as replacing a gallon of oil for a dollar.  And one of these units…the calculation on a normal house—and this is all averages…(unintel) bigger, smaller, poorly insulated or not, uh, it would save about 750 gallons of oil a year.  The current price of oil is about $2.50.  In effect, what we’re propo…what we’re offering is replacement of oil at a dollar a gallon.  (…)  So whatever happens to the price of oil—the higher oil gets, the higher the value.  So the benefit there is 750 times $1.50, which is what you’d be saving on oil, that comes out to about $1,100.00 a year, uh, and then multiply that by how-many-ever homes take advantage of it.  They don’t have to.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

“The reason we’re excited about this is that we think this is a real break-through in getting rid of oil.  Maine is the most oil-dependent state in the United States.  We have the highest percentage of homes heated with oil.  And this would—oh, by the way—the technology will be such that when the wind…that the, that the power for these things will come directly from these windmills.  It will be wind replacing oil.  And there’s—we see this as a huge potential for the whole state of Maine.  Ah…but we’re going to start with Highland.  We’ve gotta start somewhere and have people see it and know that it works.  It’s not an experimental technology.  As I say, it’s in wide use all over the world.  It hasn’t been used much in Maine because that—we don’t have a differ… that CMP doesn’t have a different rate at night than they do in the daytime so there isn’t much incentive for these…but they DO have a lower delivery charge at night.

 

“And since we’ll be supplying the power—not them—essentially, we’ll be supplying the power into these units at about 3 cents/kwh as opposed to the normal 14 cents and that’s the same as a dollar less, a little less than a dollar—90 cents a gallon of oil.  Um, that’s-- and that’ll total, if 20 houses take us up on it, that would be a little over $20,000.00 a year and you add those up and you get about $60,000.00 going directly to the (cough) Highland.”

 

RG: Can I? Can I go back?  I think we might go back a little bit and explain why this is a good idea in the bigger picture and why this utility is in favor of this.  Uh, electric use, you know, goes up during the day and then goes down at night.  And the utility system is designed to meet the highest needs.  And when the need is low—demand is low—their infrastructure is under-utilized.  And power is much cheaper in the middle of the night than it is during the day.  As Angus says, the way the regulatory system works today—it’s a month-long average and we always pay—no matter when we use the kwhs—we pay the same rate.  But on the wholesale market, we sell every hour if we’re a generator, we sell every hour into the grid at very different rates.  And so, it’s in everybody’s interest to shift some of the usage from the heaviest hours of demand to the lowest hours of demand.  And that’s what this concept is all about.  It’s shifting the time of usage so when the power is abundant and cheap, you store the heat.  And then, when it’s no longer abundant you shut off the charging of these storage units and you can, you know, discharge the heat whenever the homeowner wants it, so the utility is shifting gears and it established this short—uh, this special electro-thermal storage delivery rate which is much cheaper.  It’s a penny a kwh instead of the roughly 5 cents that CMP charges everybody for all of our kwhs today.  That’s the non-generational delivery charge that’s in your bill.  We’re going to Jew that—drop that to one cent per kwh if it’s limited to these times and you’re gonna have to have one of these new Smart Meters, so anybody who uses this will need a second meter installed—which CMP will install and the stuff—the juice coming through for your thermal storage unit will go through that second meter.  All of your other use goes through your first meter and gets charged by two totally different systems.  It’s a way of saying CMP can basically collect a penny a kwh on delivery of units that don’t exist, and therefore, there’s no---they’re not making any money now, so they can make a small amount of money with little infrastructure cost to them.  So that’s why this makes sense and, although we’re proposing it at a pretty small demonstration level in Highland, we think there’s going to be a huge amount of statewide interest in seeing this as a way to make sure that wind power that gets built in Maine gets consumed in Maine AND offsets oil—which is different from what you’ve been hearing on some of these other applications, where they worry about this power going to Massachusetts or someplace.  This is a way of getting the power used locally in Maine and without any new transmission requirements, either.  And so that’s why we’re excited.  We think we’re jump-starting a whole new method here, which is going to be very good for the larger population in Maine.  And because we want to make it happen, we’ll subsidize the electric rates so that it’s super-attractive to anybody in Highland.  You don’t have to choose it as your—among your choices for the $6,000.00 grant but it’s a pretty smart choice because we’ll be paying your heating bills for the next 10 years—uh—20 years if you make that choice.  Does that help?”

 

JD:  “Could we reverse that in the summer so that it provided air conditioning? (Laughter)  Wouldn’t that be cool?”

 

AK:  “You know, it’s interesting.  There actually are people working on that technology, where… It goes back to when I was a kid, and when I went to the movies it said “Air Cool” and what it was, was a big block of ice in the back of the theater with a fan.  And, and they are working on technology now that essentially makes ice overnight and then lets the cooling go, but, but that’s a little bit in the future.”

 

RG: “In Maine, you know, it—the thing is the wind is blowing strongest in the winter months and so that’s when the surplus of wind in overnight is something that will be greatly helped by having this heat storage device.  It’s basically a storage device for wind.  And yet, it’s in your house and you get control of it for your benefit, as opposed to some big battery that CMP owns somewhere, which is not…”

 

AK: “CMP likes the idea because their—it uses their system at a time when their system is under-used.  They don’t have to build any new wires or transformers or anything else.  Now—there—I, you know--full disclosure…everybody’s house is different.  It would probably—it would not probably—if you choose a 10 kilowatt heater, which is a good size, uh, you’d have to have a 100 amp service.  If the house doesn’t have a 100 amp service then you’d use part of your $6,000.00 grant to upgrade the service.  Uh… so we’re providing sufficient money so there’ll be no capital cost to the homeowner to install one of these units and then provide the power over—uh, uh, over, uh, you know, the life of the project—20 years or whatever it turns out to be.  Uh, this is a, I mean, it’s taken me awhile, but this is a, this is a new—this is an entirely different way of thinking about wind power.  Instead of just supplying power for the lights and stuff and sending it out into the grid, this is using it locally to get us off oil….(people) And, um, and it, and the other piece is that it can be a stable price.  We all know how oil, two summers ago, was approaching $4.00 a gallon… and it’s back to $2.25 and stuff.  Uh…once the wind turbines are built, there’s no price of fuel.  If we have to pay the cost of building them, it’s like a hydro plant.  Big ‘up front’ cost but no fuel cost.  So if we can provide a long-term stable price…uh, and we’re looking on this as a sort of turning point—tipping point—on how we think about energy in Maine, because again—one of the reasons Rob and I got into this is—wind is something Maine has.  Fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have oil.  We don’t have natural gas.  Everything we use is imported.  So…so that’s the, that’s the proposal now.  Uh… there’s another piece….

 

“If you do the math, uh, $4,000.00 times 39 turbines or 40 turbines would be about $156-$160,000.00.  I’ve quoted about $60,000.00.  What happens to the other hundred in benefits?  We’re going to propose sending that on an annual basis to the Bureau of Public Lands to be used strictly for land conservation in the… this region in terms of the view-shed… the views.  Uh, maybe they would want to buy a mountain and say “You can’t have wind power” or maybe that they use it for trail development or something like that…So what we tried to do is come up with a package that makes sense…uh, that gives really significant benefit to the people in Highland –but also benefits the region, and that’s where the—where the land conservation concerns it.  So, uh, that’s the, that’s the benefits piece and as I’ve said (we’ve got a little cheater so you don’t have to remember all of it)… but it’s essentially one hundred thousand in taxes, twenty-five thousand dollars in free power, six thousand dollars per home grant and subsidized electricity for the thermal heater if that’s the option people choose.  I mean, my original idea was, we’ll just give everyone on of these heater units and then we thought, “No, no…Maine people want to ch…decide.”  But, so, it’s optional but it’s a very—it’s almost an offer you can’t refuse because it’s so…. it’ll save you over a thousand dollars in heat.  So that’s the… that’s the facts.

 

JD:  “Isn’t this an ANNUAL payment thing?”

 

AK: “Yes, ma’am.  Yes, it is.”

 

JD: “What happens after the first year?  I mean… they’re not gonna be… they’re not gonna have to buy another of these units, and…”

 

AK:  “No—no!  The grant is one-time.  Everything else is annual.  And basically, to come up with the number, we figured up what would—what would an annual value of $6,000.00 times 24 be and it’s about $11-$12,000.00 a year, so just for mathematics, we treated that as an ‘annual’ but we’d pay that up front.  That’s a ‘one time’.  Everything else is for the life of the project.  The taxes, the power, the power to the heaters.  The one-time grant is—you know, you can’t winterize your house over and over.  So that’s the, that’s the package.”

 

RG: “Essentially, what we’re doing is—we’ll be taking out the equivalent of a loan…”

 

AK: “It won’t be the equivalent of a loan, it WILL be a loan!”

 

RG: “… $150,000.00 loan to cover the $6,000.00 per house.  Are we correct that there are 24?  This is only for year-round users.  Current (unintel)…”

 

JD: “26 houses.”

 

RG: “Oh, there are 26?”

 

JD:  “Well, there’ll be 26 if one is constructed.  We’re not certain of that.”

 

RG: “Well, again, we’re….”

 

JD: “There’s 25 currently.”

 

RG: “Okay. 25 today.  We were planning on, you know, as a current use.

 

AK: “We assumed 20 would take us up…”

 

RG: “Yeah, so we’re assuming not everybody—again, if all 25 want it, we’ll pay for it, but we’re calculating at 20, or 80%.  Uh, and you know, we don’t want to encourage people to turn seasonal homes into year-round homes.  They can, but that’s not what we’re trying to do, here.  We’re not trying to add to the heating bills--we’re trying to change heating bills in the other direction.  So, uh--anyway, so that’s what we’re proposing.  But, as Angus says, we feel that the, the choice should be the homeowners’. 

 

“Now, one of…what Angus has described as a 750 gallon savings… a typical house uses about 1,100 gallons.  We’re saying so about 2/3 of that is what you can offset reasonably with this sort of woodstove—kind of unit—in terms of, it’s in one place in one room.  If you have a big central design, it can heat most of your house.  But if you have a rambling house it’s not gonna work for more than half your heating needs.  So there’s going to be a huge variety in how well it works and what your other heating system is and how well it will balance.  It’s so individual, depending on the house, that we decided it’s just got to be the individual’s choice and they can choose it or not use it.  What size to get—there are 2 sizes that will make sense.  There’s a small size starting at 7 kws, which will fit within a 100 amp service, and then the larger size is probably better, for most people.  I think it’s 10.7—something like that—kilowatts—it doesn’t mean much of anything.  But it’s just a little bit bigger unit, physically, but it stores considerably more.  And for that, you really need a 200 amp service.  So, you can choose—if you currently have a 100 amp you might say “I don’t want to upgrade my electric system” but if you did want to, you can use some of the $6,000.00 to upgrade…”

 

JD: “Do you have any pictures of this unit?”

 

AK: “I’m glad—I’m really sorry you asked that because I’m the one who forgot ‘em.  They’re sitting in my bedroom, but the company we’re working with is called Steffes.  S-t-e-f-f-i-s.  It’s an American company based in, I think, Nebraska and they have local people here in Maine and that’s who we’ve been doing work on.  So if you go online, it’s Steffes…”

 

RG:  “E-S. It’s Steffes. S-t-e-f-f-e-s-.”

 

AK: “Steffes.  It’s in Nebraska and they’ve been making these things for 20 or 30 years.  And you can see ‘em and look at ‘em… and they DO, by the way, make a furnace size.  In fact, we are—outside of what we’ve been talking about this morning—we’re talking to some larger, like a school or other places to demonstrate this—they make these things, you know, big enough to do a school.  They come and—just think of big piles of bricks and they get bigger and bigger.  Uh, but what we’re proposing here is essentially room-size, uh, but uh, there’s a—you know, that’s why this is such an exciting option.  Uh, and, and we’re gonna—we’re working on a technology to basically come right out of the wind project.”

 

Jay Staton (Highland assessor): “What about people who have newer constructed homes, uh, well insulated, burn wood—not really much room for improvement in the heating system… what benefit would that be?”

 

AK: “Well, there are, I mean, if you meet all that criteria, and you already have solar hot water and stuff like that, then that’s a, that’s a good question.  I don’t know, I… the purpose is, this--in fact, the law requires that the money be used in terms of energy, so… you can’t build a pool, uh, but, ah, I suspect, uh, there would be pretty good uses for that money in most houses--that, so, you know—almost every house, unless it was designed as a super-insulated house, could use additional insulation, or, or… one of the uses here that not many people are doing is solar hot water, for domestic, you know, for showers and stuff.  That’s… that’s reasonably cost effective.  Uh, so, you know, I, I, that’s--that’s a good question, there’s no… that’s the—there’s so much variety out there, we can’t get every single…”

 

RG: “Yeah, we thought about that, Jay.  And honestly, we don’t know the answer.  We were sort of hoping everybody could find a way to improve their house, uh, with the free electricity, the photo-voltaic solar, uh, doesn’t make that much sense.  I mean, you could do it, but you’d have a surplus and you could sell back to the utility, so that is a possibility…uh.  I don’t know how many brand new homes you’ve got.

 

AK: “I should have mentioned—these heat units I’m talking about are about $2,500.00.  About $2,500.00 for the large, uh, the larger heat unit.”

 

Jody Dunphy (assessor and resident): “On this grant, too, is—how long a time-span have the people got before they can use it?  ‘Cause, let’s say I decide to put one in this year, when it first comes available and let’s say, 2 years down the road Jay wants to put one in and he hasn’t done anything with his grant money… can he still do that?”

 

AK: “We were thinking of 3 years…”

 

RG: “And that would be three years from the a project gets built, so you’ve got a couple years to think about it before the 3 years even starts.  I’m hoping everybody will want to put that money to use in the first year or two just because the energy savings ought to start sooner and not later.  But we will give you a good block of time and that’s the kind of thing we want to hear back from you.  Um… you should say… we want to come back again, maybe in a month, and talk this further.  We want to introduce the ideas to you and we’re glad to have a lot of people here to hear it directly because I assume there’ll be a lot of conversation in town about how does this sound, and what are these questions that come up--and therefore, what seems right to you.  We’re flexible on all these things at this point.  We want to put a package into the LURC application which sounds like it will go down pretty well and serve the people’s interest in Highland.  We don’t want to come up with something that doesn’t fit, so just these kinds of questions is what we want to get feedback on in the next month.”

 

Highland Resident: “I’m just curious.  I don’t know if I understood you correctly.  You store all the energy at night?  The heat energy?”

 

RG: “Yes.”

 

AK: “It has to be charged between ten at night and eight in the morning.”

 

HR: “How do you propose heating at night when it’s fairly cold?”

 

AK: “It can discharge at the same time you’re storing.”

 

HR: “Store and heat.”

 

RG: “Yeah.  In other words, this is the new Smart Meter technology that CMP is…”

 

HR: “But you leave it on all day.”

 

RG: “What you have is—it would limit the hours that you can charge it… your electricity usage—to when there is that surplus at low cost.”

 

AK: “It’s between ten at night and eight in the morning—that’s the defined period.”

 

RG: “But… but that could change.  I mean, we gotta—you know--this is a 20 year program and the PUC can change those rules, so we’ve gotta be careful not to tell you a certainty where there’s room for change.  But the concept is solid, in that, if you look at the demand curves, it always goes down at 10:00 and always starts to rise around 6:00 in the morning, so you’ve got enough time there for these units to fully charge.  If they’re fully discharged at 10:00 at night—no storage left in them—there’s enough so that if they’re running all night, they’ll be full…”

 

HR: “So we need an alternate heat from ten at night to the time you turn them on in the morning.”

 

RG: “What’s that?”

 

AK: “This is not designed… that’s a really important question.  This isn’t designed to replace your current system.  It’s a supplemental.  It’s like, you know, you know—you have an oil burner and a…”

 

HR: “You were saying how much oil we were gonna save but don’t we need heat at night?”

 

AK: “Yes.  Oh… yes.”

 

RG: “Oh, yeah.  So if it’s, if it’s a cold night, it can be both heating your house and charging, because it can receive….”

 

HR: “That’s what’s confusing me.”

 

RG: “In other words, it can take in a LOT and discharging it, it… the wires can deliver a lot more than your house needs for heat, hour by hour.  So the surplus is, is charging.”

 

AK: “Now, if it’s really cold…”

 

RG: “If it’s a windless night, you may not get the charge—you know, that’s where we—where the details haven’t been worked out.  But, uh, in other words, there are some nights when it may not be available so cheaply and that’s, that’s, that’s not 100% of the time, but it’s most of the time. Most of the time.”

 

HR: “The people who do take advantage of this, how are you going to administer the payments?  Is that going to be automatic with CMP, or are you going to…”

 

END OF FIRST SEGMENT

 

PART TWO

 

RG: “And they’re going to do all of the billing--we’re just gonna—uh, they’re, they’re gonna knock off the energy value of those 500 kwhs off your bill, send us the bill, so your bill is simply smaller and you never see the…”

 

HR: “Right.  That part’s very easy.”

 

RG: “We’re going to be offering up to 20,000 kilowatt hours, which is probably the maximum you could use on one of these things under normal conditions for the heater.  We’re going to offer up to that much, uh, so then you, but—exactly how we do that—it’s a separate meter so it’s a separate decision but we’re assuming you’ll be doing the same kind of thing with CMP—we haven’t yet worked all that out.”

 

HR: “And the reason why I ask is not to just nit-pick what you’ve just said, but you said when the wind is not blowing, we get a different benefit.  So what you, in essence, you just did, is just mailed yourself in a corner where you have to turn around and you have to now give the residents a detailed report of how much energy you’re producing (unintel), because now you‘re looking at 2 things.  “Okay, we’re going to pay this only of the wind is blowing” and they don’t exactly know what you mean.”

 

RG: “We’re trying to tie it closely to our wind turbines.  We’re not sure if CMP can actually control that so far away.  And it may be, during the middle of the night if the wind isn’t blowing, the electricity price is still very cheap because the nuclear and the coal plants in other parts of New England are, are generating way more heat—making way more electricity—than the customers are actually using.  So if we weren’t tied to wind, you could get a very cheap rate, anyway.  But just how CMP is going to fine-tune that control mechanism is a detail we haven’t gotten to.  But I, we, we obviously want to find something that is simple and understandable and transparent so that you, as customers, are confident you’re being treated fairly and you’re not being sold something that you can only get part-time advantage of or that they might stick you with a higher cost, or something. We’ll make sure that those kinds of negative things don’t happen.  We haven’t worked it all out.”

 

AK: “We want this to be a model, all right?”

 

RG: “And CMP wants it to be a model.  They’re very excited about this.  They already have this special rate.  Nobody is using it.  So we’re gonna… the PUC said “We want you guys to do this.”  This is the future!”

 

HR: “Now, is CMP going to pay for a new meter that comes with the Smart Meter?  Or is that part of the grant money?”

 

RG: “What happens is—you’re going to get a charge—a monthly charge for that meter that’s built into your monthly bill.  Uh... something like $8.50.  They will put the meter in at no capital cost, but that will, that will add $100.00—about—annual cost for operating that.  So you’ll have—if you use the 20,000 kwh on one of these units at a penny a kwh, that’ll be about $200.00 annual cost.  The delivery of those to CMP, then you’ll have the hundred, so about $300.00 annual cost will go there, and we’ve calculated that into the electricity prices that we’re talking about.  So that’s included in the precept—in the uh, the dollar a gallon oil equivalent.  I realize there’s a lot of important details… we’ll try to make sure it all nets out to be a simple thing people can be sure of.

 

Jody D: “Greg, you had a question.  I see you put your hand up, there.”

 

HR: “Well, I did, but I’m not sure I do now.  I have a business AND a home.  There’d be only one unit for each household…”

 

RG: “You have two CMP bills?”

 

HR: “I don’t.  We’re all on one.”

 

RG: “Well, somebody does.  One of the things I don’t understand is when I talked to CMP, they told me there were 45 CMP customers in Highland.  And if I remember the numbers right, about 35 of them are residences and that’s what I don’t understand. That extra ten.”

 

HR: “Probably seasonal.”

 

RG: “And then there are five seasonal.  So I think there are some seasonal residences that are treated as year-round customers of CMP.  Does that sound right?  That there are about…”

 

JS: “Some people do get their power, so to speak, ‘shut off’ in the wintertime but most people…”

 

RG: “So there are about 20 camps or something like that that are not year-round residences that have electric power.  And there are, I don’t know, a half a dozen businesses and I assume yours is one of them.”

 

HR: “Um, I (unintel) it’s on one meter, and it comes…

 

AK: “So your home is in the inn.

 

HR: “No, it’s 2 separate buildings.”

 

RG: “Well, what we were offering is two separate benefits.  The 500 kwh of regular electricity is for every household and business, every separate meter, and that’s because if we don’t do it for every meter, doing it through CMP gets complicated.  And then the $6,000.00 grant is only for year-round households.  So, you have one.”

 

HR: “That’s correct.”

 

Lapse 1 minute…

 

HR: “Could I ask you a question?  How do you know what your taxes are going to do?  You told us you’re gonna pay a hundred and some-odd…”

 

RG: “We don’t.  We estimate.”

 

HR: “Who sets that?”

 

RG: “The reason we know pretty well is that there are very standard state valuation formulas and the law firm that we’re working with represents almost half of the municipalities in the state of Maine and so they have a huge amount of experience working with the tax system and how it works and they’ve done these calculations for us.  So Highland’s county taxes are gonna go rocketing…uh, and your state subsidies are going to plummet.  And we’re just assuming that your town budget for the kinds of things you spend in town are going to stay the same.  None of that’s a sure thing, but that’s…we’ve made those assumptions and then they’ve assumed that--we’ve seen a bunch of wind farms built in Maine and revalued and so we have a pretty standard… a pretty good idea of how they’re going to value them, based on direct capital investment and which things get fully charged and which things may not get full 100% valuation—so we’re pretty sure we know the answer, but we should not represent these numbers as anything other than a pretty close estimate of what will be.  It will be something different then that…”

 

AK: “The concept is pretty simple, the details are complicated but the concept is basically adding a $210 million asset to the tax base of the town, and logically that means that the expenses stay flat but the mil rate’s gonna drop dramatically and that’s how you get—that’s, you know, you’re paying 15 mils now on your—whatever your property value is—and you’ll pay 3!  It gets complicated because of the effect of adding all of this value to the town, for example, increases the town’s obligation to pay county taxes.  County taxes would go up by $350,000.00 a year—or some huge number.  The amount of money you get from the state for revenue sharing and education is dependent upon the valuation of the town, so when the town valuation goes up, those numbers go down.  So the numbers we’ve presented assume county taxes going up, revenue sharing going down, education going down.  Even after adjusting for all of that, you will pay about 20% of what you’re paying.  That’s just—I mean, and it makes sense; if, you know, if someone built a $200 million house in town, they’d pay the bulk of the taxes.  We’re just building a $200 million piece of energy.”

 

JD: “It’s not going to hurt our revenue sharing of education subsidy a whole lot, I’ll tell ya.  I mean…”

 

AK: “You don’t get much anyway…”

 

JD: “No, this next year, we’re, I mean, we get $500 and something a month for…”

 

HR: “$587.00.”

 

AK: “That’s it?  Yean, so that’s not a big deal.”

 

RG: “So one of the, one of the things that we really haven’t gotten emphasized, um, but the county is going to get a benefit.  It’s not just going to Highland, because your county taxes will go up.  That’s $350,000.00 they don’t have to collect from the other towns in the county, and it’s a pretty sizable chunk.”

 

AK: “You mean Skowhegan’s getting a tax break out of this?” (chuckle)

 

RG: “Yes. ”

 

HR: “You mentioned at one of your meetings about a cell town on top of one of your windmills.  Is that…”

 

RG: “We talked to a company about that, that is in that business, and asked if they’d be interested and I was told that the customer base was probably too small for them to be interested in putting up a tower even if we provided a crew…”

 

AK: “You know, but if that’s something that would mean something—you know—that may be a way we can help.  Keep, keep at us on that, okay?”

 

JD: “I would think it would mean something.  I mean, how many people in this room use a cell phone, for crying out loud?  Not in Highland.  Not in Highland!”

 

AK: “You get no service here?”

 

JD: “No, not in Highland.  There’s a couple of spots.  We’re not all gonna climb Stewart Mountain to get a signal!”

 

RG: “The problem is—the problem is, we don’t want to be in the cell phone business and I don’t know how much we can force somebody, and in other words—how much subsidy do we have to..?  We give them a free space to put their equipment—you’d think that would be good enough.  But I was told it isn’t.  So then, what else do we have to do make it happen?  I can’t figure out how to do that.  So (turns to AK) you can go back and talk… it’s Josh that we should be talking to.”

 

AK: “Okay.”

 

RG: And, uh… we’ll try.  If that’s what you think is a good benefit.”

 

HR: “You’ve certainly offered a lot today in tangible benefits-slash-bribes to me.  Um.  I don’t want to live with the wind towers, honestly.  You know what I want on your application?  I want you to say you will buy my house at fair market value when I can’t live with them.  Is that something you’re willing to do?”

 

AK: “No.”

 

RG: “No, but, um, I’ll tell you this.  Uh, with this benefit package…”

 

HR: “My quality of life is worth more than your benefit package.”

 

RG: “I’m not trying to tell you that.  I’m not answering that.  I’m saying that I think your property value is enhanced.”

 

HR: “I don’t think so.  I’m looking right at that mountain.  Not only will I see them in the sky, I’ll see them reflecting on the water.”

 

RG: “I’m not…”

 

HR: “No.  I want to talk to you.  You’ve had lots of time.  You’re telling me how my property value is going to go up.  I totally disagree with you.  Totally.  And so I want an ‘opt out’.  I have a grandchild that may become ill because of your sound and the low level noises.  That person should be able to opt out of your project.”

 

RG: “If you want to talk to us about it, I don’t close the door on it.  I only was trying to say one part of your property values, okay?  I’m not talking about those other parts which are legitimate and I don’t disagree with you—that’s—I can’t say what the future effect on those are.  But at least to the degree that somebody is not bothered by the turbines—if your property taxes have gone down and you get this energy conservation benefit and you get part of your power bill paid—that portion will have a positive effect on your property values.  Whether it gets offset by other effects, I’m not going to debate.  I’m not going to discuss that with you, but we had this question come up in Roxbury and, uh… it’s a very difficult question to set a precedent for.  Uh, I’m telling you today—I am confident that 99 out of 100 people owning your house would find no reason to move out after they’d seen the thing built and saw what the effects actually are.  Because there’s been so much talk about the effects—exaggerated talk…”

 

HR: “There’s a lot to say about them… those people who are having an effect…”

 

RG:  “Those effects are so far different—in the location of those turbines relative to the houses…”

 

HR: “We’re in the mountains.  I hear sounds coming from all over the place in the mountains.”

 

RG:  “I’m, I’m, I’m PROMISING YOU THIS.  You won’t hear those things.  I’m just telling you, you won’t…”

  

HR: “If you can promise me that, if you can promise me that, put it in writing.”

 

RG:  “I’m really trying to say ‘yes’ to your question.  I haven’t figured out how to say ‘yes’, yet, but I’m really trying to.  Because I think that you’re wrong on what you assume the impacts are gonna be, and I’d love to be able to say --Okay, after you’ve been living with this thing for 2 years—you tell me if I’m right or wrong, and if, if, if you’re still bothered by it, I’d like to be able to say ‘yes’, I’d buy your house.  But I can’t yet commit to doing that.  But we can have that conversation.”

 

AK: “I mean, the reason we’re here is that it’s not Mars Hill.  Those people that are having trouble with Mars Hill—and we’ve been, Rob and I, before we even started our business—went up there and walked around and actually… ended up in Wendy Todd’s living room for about two hours. She’s the leading opponent.  I think she’s the one that’s suing and they’re about 2,000 feet from the turbines and they’re right downwind and they’re right down the hill and they’re bothering them.  There’s no question about it.  One of the reasons we’re here is, except for Greg Perkins’ camp and I think there’s one other little camp across the road—everybody else is well over a mile away from the nearest turbines and the sound just doesn’t go that far.  I mean, and, and…”

 

HR: “I can hear the Poland Springs truck coming off the top of the mountain.”

 

RG: “They make a LOT more noise than a wind turbine!  That’s exactly right!  You CAN hear them!”(hollers)

 

AK: (put his arm out to RG) “Don’t get, don’t get excited!”

 

RG: “I’m sorry, okay!  But I mean…”

 

AK: “Have you ever gone to see a project?”

 

HR: “I knocked on a stranger’s door.”

 

RG: “Where?  Mars Hill?”

 

HR: “No.  Freedom. And those were a lot smaller wind turbines.  Freedom.  We randomly knocked on a person’s door and it wasn’t one of the people that does the circuit and goes around and talks…it was just a random person.  And we asked that woman how those wind towers changed her life and she dissolved.  She went right to tears.  You know… she said ‘My husband and I came to this dead end road, and it was paradise for 8 years and it’s hell now’.”

 

AK: “Do you have any idea how far away they are?”

 

JS: “3,300 feet.”

 

HR: “3,800 feet.”

 

RG: “You’re twice as far.”

 

HR: “Yeah, but her life is hell.  I don’t want to hear them.”

 

RG: “I’m telling you that twice as far matters a LOT.”

 

HR: “If you’re so sure about it, then why can’t you put it in writing?”

 

RG: “No, it’s not about tall, it’s about noise and they make the same amount of noise.  And when you go twice as far away, that just attenuates.  It does.  And, uh.  Listen, as Angus said, we only are proposing projects where they will not cause problems.  And I realize that there’s enough examples of developers that put them where they DO cause problems for people to have reasonable worries, and I’m not saying your worries are unfounded.  I’m asking you to look at the facts critically and say ‘Just because they have a problem in Freedom…’ I’ve sat in the… I’ve talked with the people in Freedom, too.  They’re very reasonable, sensible people.  I’ve seen meters that (Bloomstein?) has.  He’s  1,000 feet—1,000 feet, 1,000 away from a turbine and the nearest one here is going to be over 6,000 feet.  I mean, it’s just a huge difference.  I’ve seen his meters, I’ve been to his house, I’ve watched the thing come…you can see it on YouTube.  And so I’m not saying these things don’t cause problems in the wrong place.  But I’m telling you—the ones where we’re putting in Highland are NOT in the wrong place for anybody’s house.”

 

HR: “The information I read about wind towers… in general, lots of them are decommissioned and left up, running.  Was it Saco and Kittery just had to take their’s down at their own expense?  California—there’s lots of dead wind farms that are not—well, they’re still turning and they’re still killing birds, but they’re not generating electricity.  You are here to tell us that these wind towers-- taking, really, quality of life for me away—are really going to generate the electricity that’s going to make a difference?”

 

RG: “Yes. Absolutely.”

 

AK: “Just a couple of things.  You said…”

 

HR: “Why is all the other information out these from other wind power?  I mean, Europe is giving up on it.  Why is all that information saying something different?”

 

AK: “There are a couple of things to say.  One is—LURC requires us to build up a fund to take ‘em down if they don’t work.  In other words…”

 

HR: “So, when is that in place?  Is that right from the beginning of the project?  That money?”

 

AK: “Well, LURC hasn’t issued their order, yet, but I think they start putting….not the whole amount, but it’s built up over time.  And then you… In other words, there has to be a fund and you’re responsible for decommissioning… for taking them down.  That’s in the law.  That’s required by DEP and by LURC so I don’t really think that’s a concern.  Uh, but the other, the other issue is-- will this really produce power?  And example is…”

 

HR: “The power it’s PROMOTED as making?”

 

AK: “Well, we don’t make money unless it produces power.  This is, you have to sell the power in order to make it pay the wh….we’re going to have to borrow over $200 million.  That’s going to have to be paid back and the only way to pay it back is through the sale of power.  And this is a very significant project in terms of power output.  It’s about equal to all the dams on the Penobscot River.  That’s a lot of power. That’s a lot of power.  And it’s very, it’s not, this isn’t a toy project and it’s… demonstrating this or that.  This is real, this is real electricity that’s over 300 million kwhs a year and if you want to divide that by 6,000 that’ll tell you how many houses it is.  It’s a lot.

 

HR: “Is Kibby producing?  Because it doesn’t appear to be and even the red flashing lights have gone off all summer.”

 

RG: “I have not been able to follow that.  It’s not public information, but I can tell you this…”

 

HR: “Why isn’t it public information?”

 

RG: “I don’t know.”

 

HR: “Because it’s our subsidies that are paying for part of this…”

 

RG: “I don’t know.  I can’t tell you that.  But I can tell you this.  In Europe—these are European turbines, for the most part—that’s what’s driven the technology, because they’ve developed it much faster in Europe, and they are most—the best machines and they are most probably what we’ll end up buying…something from Europe.  There are lots of—tens of thousands of these operating all over Europe, so while there are stories of them not functioning in one place in California, the real body of experience, when you look at how these turbines work—has been going on for decades.”

 

HR: “With huge subsidies.”

 

RG: “NO!  It’s not about a subsidy!  The question is—does the technology work?  And the answer is—these very same machines have been operating in Europe for a number of years, successfully producing exactly…”

 

HR: “Without subsidies?”

 

RG: “There… this subsidy is a red herring.  It’s not about subsidy.”

 

HR: “It is to me, because it’s my tax dollars.”

 

RG: “In Europe.  In Europe.  No.  Because in Europe the price of electricity is very high.  And these are very competitive.  And at a certain fossil fuel price, these are competitive.  There is no, I mean, there are all sorts of special breaks for this and that energy sources.  We all know that.  We read lots of articles about it.  I’ve seen statistics which are just wildly different.  So one person believes one set of statistics and one person says another.  But you know… coal plants have a huge subsidy because they don’t have to pay for their air pollution.  They just spit it in the air and we suffer the downwind consequences.  That’s a huge subsidy.  Um…Nuclear power has all sorts of subsidies.  They don’t have their disposal system figured out and paid for and that’s a monstrous cost.  So nuclear power has a huge…wind sites are nothing compared to that.  But there is no tax subsidy in our project.”

 

AK: “Well, there is.  We had…there’s--don’t overstate it.  There’s no state or local.  There are federal subsidies for wind and solar because there’s a national policy of trying to get off fossil fuels.  But in answer to your question about production, my understanding is—I met just on Thursday with the guys that run the Vinalhaven project and their production has been right on what they predicted.  It was a little lower in June, and higher in July… you know, it’s according to when the wind blows.  But their levels of production have been, um…

 

END PART TWO

 

AK: “They’re very cautious about making ensuring that they in fact will produce the power they’re supposed to produce…”

 

RG: “… I’d be happy to come talk to you all afternoon, if you want, about these topics.  I think you should focus on do they work, how’s it gonna, is there gonna be risk of upsetting your enjoyment of your house, that’s—we can start looking at that in terms of YOUR house and the specifics that I have a lot of information about.  But in terms of do these things work…I really think that the, the sort of—the body of opponents that have been built up to wind projects have circulated a lot of really misleading information that is making people….

 

CARD FULL  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                   

 

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Comment by Karen Bessey Pease on October 29, 2012 at 5:23pm

Thanks, Harry.

Transcribing that video did take alot of time, but I thought it was important for people to see the types of promises and assurances given to communities when developers are trying to 'sell' their projects to the locals.  Angus King's assurances that their Highland turbines could be connected/wired directly to those homes which chose to install Steffes heaters--'wind replacing oil'--begs to be challenged.  Are the logistics of such a scenario in the least bit realistic?  I can't see how it's possible, but if experts can give credence to Mr. King's proposal, the people of Maine would surely love to see how.

 

I also found it astonishing that Mr. Gardiner could PROMISE a resident that she would NOT hear 'those things'.  I know where she lives, and I would be amazed if she and her family didn't hear them.  For sure, their bucolic mountain and waterfront environment will be a history.

 

In my opinion, the stammering and speech patterns of the two presenters speaks to their insecurity and their own disbelief in what they are selling.   In addition, Mr. King spent almost every moment of the time while Mr. Gardiner spoke, staring at the floor or at his lap as he sat upon a desk, swinging his feet.  I expected that he would be looking residents in the eye.

Kaz

Comment by Harrison Roper on October 29, 2012 at 4:03pm

This settles it - I will not vote for Angus King for Senator.  He cannot speak in clear and coherant sentences.  What a garble!

  Many thanks to whoever went to the trouble of making this exact transcription of typical contemporary speech patterns. Such transcriptions are rarely seen.  Mssrs King and Gardiner are not alone in uttering  mishmashes of partial sentences and self-interruptions. It is a style of speech that permeates the "talking head" environment we see on TV, particularly in discussisons of politics.

I am convinced - I will not vote for Angus King.

   Harrison Roper  Houlton/Danforth 

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/

 

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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