Maine land rush spurred by unprecedented wave of solar development


Over the next few years, solar energy farms will be popping up across Maine, which has no specific rules for where such projects should be sited.


It’s too early to say whether large-scale solar development in Maine will bring about the broader public pushback that accompanied the expansion of commercial, land-based wind power in the 2010s. But it’s a cautionary tale.

The Maine Wind Energy Act of 2008 set up an expedited review process that made it easier for developers to site projects in certain areas. It worked. Today, roughly 20 percent of Maine’s electricity is generated by wind, more than any other New England state.

But the view of massive towers on remote ridges, and the sound of whirling blades from projects too close to homes, dampened some of the initial political and public enthusiasm around wind power. In 2018, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage enacted a moratorium on new wind projects. That ban was overturned by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills when she took office a year later.

Wind and solar are inherently different, however, in some key aspects. It’s not unusual for modern wind farms to have tower heights and rotor diameters the length of football fields, with multiple turbines sticking up along ridges.

Solar, by contrast, is low-profile and not as visible from a distance. But compared with wind, it takes up a lot more land.

Mainers are starting to see some so-called utility-scale solar projects rise on the landscape, on 250 acres at the Sanford airport, for instance, and on 490 acres that’s part of a dairy farm in Farmington.

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Comment by Stephen Littlefield on January 10, 2021 at 4:32pm

I agree with everything said below, the last thing that is even considered is science with these claimed greenies! Both the wind turbines and solar are a waste of taxpayers money and as far as I have been able to deduce, once they are done the developers are gone never to be seen again and the citizens will bear the cost of disposal, whether it's fifteen years down the road or five years. The whole ill thought out ill legislated pushed by King Anus, Joey Baldacci, and the coke queen Jay-nut Mills, then pushed through the legislature by the likes of Sara Rhode Island Gideon and Troy the thug Jackson and other democrats before them. Lest we for get that every republican senator except three voted for the latest solar boondoggle! Time for a big flush in Augusta. 

Comment by Willem Post on January 7, 2021 at 11:18am



Environmental sciences professor, Jacobsen, at Stamford University, CA, claimed in 2015, almost all US energy requirements, for all uses, could be supplied by wind, solar and hydro. He excluded energy from nuclear and from bio sources, mainly because of excessive cropland area requirements, and because forests are a major absorber and storer of CO2.


NOTE: Coal, oil, gas, etc., are used as feedstocks to make millions of products that fill distribution channels and stores. It is a mystery to me where those feedstocks would come from, if coal, oil and gas, etc., were banned.


This article deals with wind, solar and hydro for only the electricity part of all US energy, which, at present, is about 40% of all energy uses. See energy flow chart in URL


The below analysis shows the cost of the battery systems, if the US would have a major wind/solar lull covering 25% of the land area.


Electricity Short-Falls During Heat Waves with Simultaneous Wind Lulls


California with Heat Waves and Minimal Wind


Typically, California imports about 30% of its electricity from nearby states to cover any electricity short-falls. This mode of operation sufficed, until the US Southwest had a major, multi-day, heat wave; during heat waves winds are minimal. As a result, electricity supplies to California were curtailed by the exporting states.


California had multiple days with rolling black-outs, i.e., tens of millions of people with no air-conditioning during periods with temperatures up to 115F. Living conditions were made even worse by the smoke of large-scale forest fires.


Hopefully, California learned an expensive lesson, due to over-reliance on weather-dependent, season-dependent, wind and solar electricity, and some battery systems.


Closing Down Power Plants: Prior to the heat wave, as a part of poorly planned climate-change fighting, California had unwisely closed down 15 of its 19 high-efficiency (up to 60%), gas-fired power plants, on the Pacific coast.


Those plants had not been kept in reserve, i.e., staffed, fueled and kept in good working order, to immediately provide electricity, just in case of a major heat wave and minimal wind.


Those plants had been operating at high percentages of rated capacity to produce reliable, not variable, not intermittent, low-CO2, low-cost electricity, 24/7/365, regardless of weather or season.


Electricity Short-Falls During a One-Day Wind/Solar Lulls


Any electric power system has to be designed for worst conditions. According to weather data, the US has multi-day, wind/solar lulls covering up to 25% of the land area. They occur at random times throughout the year.


In this article, a lull is defined at 15% of normal wind/solar electricity output for that time of year.


Electricity Short-Fall: US generators feed about 4000 billion kWh/y into the US grid, which likely would become at least 6000 TWh/y, after widespread use of EVs and heat pumps; 25% of the US land area would need about 6000 x 0.25 = 1500 TWh/y. See Note


A TWh = one billion kWh


Assume, for calculation purposes, the US has its electricity from wind, 40%, solar, 40%, and from hydro, bio, and other sources, 20%. No nuclear. Such percentages would be similar to the Jacobsen scenario.


The short-fall would be about 1500 x 0.8, wind/sols fraction x (1 - 0.15) = 1020 TWh/y, or about 1020/365 = 2.79 TWh/d


NOTE: My annual electricity consumption increased about 50% after I installed three 24,000 Btu/h heat pumps for heating and cooling my New England house. 
It displaced a fraction of my normal propane consumption.

There were no energy cost savings.

Amortizing the $24,000 capital cost at 3.5%/y for 15 years would be $2059/y, plus annual service calls and parts.

Whereas, I received a 10% subsidy, that cost is merely shifted to other people, per Economics 101.

Governments mandating hundreds of $billions be spent on such poor investments, as part of climate-change fighting, would impoverish the US people. 

Comment by Robert Powers on January 5, 2021 at 9:12am
Watch the Blueberry barrens for major solar and future very tall turbine wind use same transmission....
Comment by Bob Stone on January 5, 2021 at 8:21am

When these silicon projects are approved, do developers have to have included a disposal plan for the hardware utilized?

Comment by Penny Gray on January 5, 2021 at 7:01am

And carpeting Maine farm fields with silicon is going to solve our energy crisis?  Reduce CO2 emissions?  Will we ever evolve enough to pursue science based energy policies?  


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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