Maine set ambitious goals for wind power 15 years ago. Why has it come up short?

Update: The BDN is now carrying this article. I'm not sure when it went up. Looks like some of the usual "Cats Kill Birds" wind industry shills are infesting the comments. But also there seems to be considerable common sense brewing. People are likely figuring out that so much of what we have been told (and not just about wind) is not true and it's usually the exact opposite that's what's true.

How one sided is this article?

Maine set ambitious goals for wind power 15 years ago. Why has it come up short?

Maine Public | By Robbie Feinberg
Published April 13, 2022 at 7:00 AM EDT

Stacey Fitts navigates his old truck up a winding path of gravel and ice until he reaches an exposed ridge. He parks near a giant white wind turbine, whirring in the breeze.

"And it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger the closer you get," Fitts says as he gazes at the turbine from his driver's seat. "I just think they're pretty. To me, it's kind of like a dance. You know, this is a ballet up here on the hill. And I don't see it as an eyesore."

This story is part of our series "Climate Driven: A deep dive into Maine's response, one county at a ...."

Deep Dive Climate Driven

In one direction sits a wide, open vista of hills and mountains. Look another way, and you can see a long line of turbines stretching out for miles.

Fitts, a senior director with project operator Onward Energy, says people now flock to the wind farm in Bingham, about 30 miles north of Skowhegan in Somerset County, to see these views. He says the region has become so popular with local snowmobilers and ATVers that traffic jams can form on clear days.

"You know, somewhere, 100 ATVs coming in, one right after another, and having to wait for one another on the roads. It's pretty impressive," he says.

The power generated at the Bingham Wind Farm is impressive, too. With 56 turbines and 186 megawatts of power, it's the largest wind farm in the state.

Nearly 15 years ago, Maine set big goals for this industry: 3,000 megawatts of wind power by 2020 — but the state has come up far short of those goals so far.

"They were aggressive goals. I think they were designed to send a very clear message that we were open for wind development, and we're planning to do our part, regionally," said Phil Bartlett, the chair of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

In 2007, Bartlett was a legislator and member of a task force charged by then-Gov. John Baldacci with shaping the future of the nascent industry, while still protecting the state's natural resources. The task force helped to set the state's ambitious wind goals, which would later become legislation. And among its recommendations, the group proposed defining certain areas as "expedited" permitting sites to help steer where wind development should — and shouldn't — be focused. It also created new regulations, and required projects to provide tangible benefits to communities.

"Coming off of that, I know, we got a lot of interest and attention from around the country, around the world. There was really an effort to make Maine an attractive place to invest," Bartlett said.

Yet nearly 15 years later, the total wind capacity in Maine is about 1,000 megawatts — significant, but only about a third of the state's original goal. So why did the wind industry come up short?

"I think it's a combination of three factors. The primary one is lack of site suitability," said Kurt Adams, the CEO of Summit Utilities, and a former PUC chair and wind power executive.

Adams said wind energy can only work in particular locations: areas with lots of consistent breezes, while not having a big impact on the local environment and community.

Plus, he said, wind farms need transmission lines with sufficient capacity, and that has been a challenge in a region with a limited grid.

"At the end of the day, there are only so many places where you have good wind, good transmission, small other environmental effects, and a community that wants the development," Adams said.

The other unexpected change from 15 years ago, experts said, is that more developers have moved toward solar power. They say the technology has become far cheaper in recent years, and there can be more flexibility around where they can be located.

Jeremy Payne, with the Maine Renewable Energy Association, said politics have also played a role: in particular, former Gov. Paul LePage's 2018 moratorium banning wind permits in parts of the state. Payne said that while the moratorium faced legal challenges and was ultimately reversed by Gov. Janet Mills, it sent a damaging message to developers that made many question whether to invest here.

"I can't tell you how many phone calls — one of the first questions I got for about two years after that, was about that executive order. 'What does this mean? Should we expect more of this?'" Payne said.

Payne said despite that speed bump, he's optimistic about the industry's future. And while much of the focus of wind energy policy has turned to offshore projects, Payne is also encouraged by legislation that passed last year to create a process for a large transmission line connecting the New England energy grid to Aroostook County, which he says could unlock the potential for a huge amount of wind power from northern Maine.

"So I think it's pretty encouraging," Payne said. "Obviously, we'll have to wait and see how things shake out, what the price looks like, what the benefits look like. But it's the most action that we've seen in that regard, certainly, in my time being involved in these issues."

Despite falling well short of those early projections, the wind industry still points to about $2 billion that it says it has invested in the state, plus tax payments that continue to be distributed to local communities.

Tony Barrett, with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, said his group has been able to work with developers to mitigate the appearance of the turbines along the landscape. But he'd still like the state to add even more stringent regulations, such as a more expansive analysis of the visual impacts of wind projects.

"We're a little concerned of the Appalachian Trail dying death by 1,000 cuts. Every year, new proposals for roads or transmission lines or projects," Barrett said. "We would just want to make sure that — development's going to happen. But we want to work with developers to make sure it's sited properly."

It's still an open question just how much wind development will be seen in Maine in the near future — a question shaped by infrastructure, technology, and by the political landscape that emerges in the years ahead.


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Comment by Willem Post on April 17, 2022 at 6:07am




The various costs of making wind turbines have gone up, especially in Europe, due to increases in energy, materials, and transport prices

The cost of financing has increased, i.e., higher interest rates, because of the consumer price index, CPI, increasing at 8.5%/y, and the producer price index, PPI, increasing at 11.5%/y


Owners typically put up 50% of the turnkey capital cost of a wind, solar, or battery project, the rest is financed.

Owners typically make 9%/y on their investment, when bank interest rates are low, say 3.5%/y.

Owners may want to make a higher %/y, when bank interest rates are high.


All this translates in Owners having to sell their wind electricity at much higher prices, i.e., wind suddenly is not competitive with existing low-cost, domestic coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydro.


The same is happening due to re-pricing of:


1) Solar electricity


2) Grid-scale battery system services


3) EVs, and EV chargers, and EV charging


All that will make it much more expensive to reduce CO2 to “save the world from climate change” (if that were actually possible).


However, reducing fossil CO2 reduces biomass growth (which absorbs CO2)

The growing of crops for food has already been reduced, due to a shortage of fertilizer and phosphate from Belarus and Russia; their prices have become stratospheric. A world recession, or worse, may be in the offing.


Remember, all this is due to the US relentlessly pushing to expand NATO infrastructures and personnel beyond East Germany, which it had promised not to do in 1990. The USSR and the Warsaw Pact collapsed in 1991. NATO had become superfluous.


After the US-instigated color revolution in 2014, the US turned impoverished, corrupt, oligarchic Ukraine into a NATO-armed battering ram to reduce the security of Russia. See URL









“All-in” Electricity Cost of Wind and Solar in New England


Pro RE folks point to the “price paid to owner” as the cost of wind and solar, purposely ignoring the other cost categories. The all-in cost of wind and solar, c/kWh, includes:


1) Above-market-price paid to Owners 

2) Subsidies paid to Owners

3) Owner return on invested capital at about 9%/y

4) Grid extension/augmentation

5) Grid support services

6) Future battery systems


Comments on table 1


- Vermont legacy Standard Offer solar systems had greater subsidies paid to owner, than newer systems


- Wind prices paid to owner did not have the drastic reductions as solar prices.


- Vermont utilities are paid about 3.5 c/kWh for various costs they incur regarding net-metered solar systems


- "Added to rate base" is the cost wind and solar are added to the utility rate base, used to set electric rates.


- “Total cost”, including subsidies to owner and grid support, is the cost at which wind/solar are added to the utility rate base


- “NE utility cost” is the annual average cost of purchased electricity, about 6 c/kWh, plus NE grid operator charges, about 1.6 c/kWh

for a total of 7.6 c/kWh.


- “Grid support costs” would increase with increased use of battery systems to counteract the variability and intermittency of increased build-outs of wind and solar systems. See URL



1) NE wholesale grid price averaged about 5 c/kWh, starting in 2009, due to low-cost CCGT and nuclear plants providing at least 65% of all electricity loaded onto the NE grid, in 2019.

2) There are Owning costs, and Operating and Maintenance costs, of the NE grid

ISO-NE charges these costs to utilities at about 1.6 c/kWh. The ISO-NE charges include: 

Regional network services, RNS, based on the utility peak demand occurring during a month

Forward capacity market, FCM, based on the utility peak demand occurring during a year.


Table 1/VT & NE sources

Paid to











paid to



to rate





















Solar, rooftop, net-metered, new










Solar, rooftop, net-metered, legacy










Solar, standard offer, combo









Solar, standard offer, legacy









Wind, ridge line, new









Wind, offshore, new










Sample calculation; NE utility cost = 6, Purchased + 1.6, (RNS + FCM) = 7.6 c/kWh

Sample calculation; added to utility base = 17.4 + 3.5 = 20.9 c/kWh

Sample calculation; total cost = 17.4 + 5.2 + 2.1 + 3.5 + 1.6 = 29.8 c/kWh


Excludes costs for very expensive battery systems

Excludes costs for very expensive floating, offshore wind systems

Excludes cost for dealing with shortfalls during multi-day wind/solar lulls. See URL


“Added to rate base” is for recent 20-y electricity supply contracts awarded by competitive bidding in NE.

“Added to rate base” would be much higher without subsidies and cost shifting.

Areas with better wind and solar conditions, and lower construction costs/MW have lower c/MWh, than NE

New England has average winds, has highest on-shore turnkey costs ($2,400/kW in 2020), has highest PPA c/kWh

See page 39 of URL


Comment by Jim Lutz on April 14, 2022 at 3:16pm

Recently I commented on an article in the BDN regarding the wind energy boondoggle in Maine and it was deleted with the comment to me that it was "disinformation" and did not meet the guidelines for their site. So much for free speech and expressing the "scientific" information that we all know about. Damn, we have to get rid of all this phony corrupt disinformation from the "Green Energy" crowd. There is no way we can effectively conduct our lives, businesses, industry for the next 50+ years without fossil fuel or nuclear. We will return to the stone age. 

Comment by Long Islander on April 13, 2022 at 8:07pm

From April 22, 2011

Stacey Fitts, co-chair of the Joint Standing Committee on
Energy, Utilities and Technology, works for Kleinschmidt Associates, an engineering, licensing, environmental service firm offering specialized technical services to the renewable industry. Attached to this email is some information regarding that firm. Kleinschmidt’s wind focus is primarily off -shore wind power, but the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee makes decisions on offshore wind and decisions made for offshore wind will benefit onshore, such as anything that helps along large transmission projects. Co-Chair Fitts was quoted in the February 7, 2011 Sun-Journal as saying "Everyone wants to find the conflict, the snake in the grass. But every legislator in the building is conflicted if you were to take that same standard and apply it to everyone else. It’s the nature of being part-time legislators."

But what happens when the legislator’s employer actively approves of its employee’s work as a legislator and perhaps encourages such legislative endeavors to exceed simple part-time work? As can be seen above, Kleinschmidt’s website brazenly boasts, “we have been very active in the development of state regulations in Maine where one of Kleinschmidt’s engineers is a member of the Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force.

See the whole post here:

Comment by Long Islander on April 13, 2022 at 8:05pm

More from the past:

Stacey Fitts' and Kurt Adams' Continuing Connection to Maine Wind

Lots more - just put the words Stacey Fitts in this website's search box in the upper right.

Comment by Long Islander on April 13, 2022 at 8:03pm

Then EUT's Rep. Stacey Fitts CAUGHT by us years back.

Why is it that Rep Stacey Fitts can be one of the biggest wind cheerleaders in the state, making decisions on wind and shaping legislation - all of which will benefit his employer, Kleinschmidt Associates. Look what they ran on their website up until recently. No shame whatsoever.

Comment by Willem Post on April 13, 2022 at 7:39pm

Stacey Fitts drank the wind/solar Lemon-Aid big-time.

He knows not up from down.

What energy systems analysis EXPERIENCE does HE have?

Why is he even allowed to cause trouble on this site?

He is one of these self-serving, rah-rah, people that end up costing ordinary Mainers a fortune, plus end up having a ruined environment, just as the naive, bamboozled Irish, who will regret FOREVER their stupidity of listening to smooth-talking, forked-tongue, RE BARKERS.

Comment by Stephen Littlefield on April 13, 2022 at 4:27pm

I talked to a friend a few days ago his family moved up north and pretty much off the grid, and they were trying to figure out a noise they felt as much as heard, it finally came to them with the right conditions the wind farm ten miles away is the cause of the feeling , noise. So think about that as opposed to what these grifters say!!

Comment by Monique Aniel Thurston on April 13, 2022 at 4:15pm

 "Adams said wind energy can only work in particular locations: areas with lots of consistent breezes, while not having a big impact on the local environment and community. "

What hypocrisy ..the very reason why the Wind Law was concocted was to remove scenic consideration from the permitting process . And the impact on community was somewhat improved with passage of the new nighttime regulation of 42 decibels which was brutally opposed by the wind industry and brutally pushed by CTPWP members . I still remember First Wind testifying at the BEP hearing in July 2011saying that the reduction in allowed nighttime turbine noise would be devastating for the industry .  The wind industry had defined the term of " passive acceptance " for their abominable machines. Maine activists showed many things but not passive acceptance .  

Comment by Willem Post on April 13, 2022 at 4:12pm

The original 3000 MW “rah-rah-goal” was just a number picked out of a hat.

Then, the site people started evaluating, and it turned out few sites have proper winds, and transmission so Owners can get rid of their production and get paid.

Biden’s handlers have a “rah-rah-goal” of 30,000 MW of OFFSHORE wind turbines by 2030, even though it took Europe 35 years to have 21,000 MW of wind turbines.

All such pronouncements of having this or that by such and such time, are 100% bullshit, as is “net-zero”, which almost no one knows how to define 

Europe has been screwing the US with its climate stance hoping shame the US into buying a lot of offshore wind turbines from Europe, and the Biden idiots took the bait.

Europe’s leaders know full well, there is no way they can do without Russian, oil, coal and natural gas, without having a depression in Europe.

Comment by Stephen Littlefield on April 13, 2022 at 4:01pm

What a load of propaganda! I like how they skimmed over the monstrous corridor from Aroostook to the New England grid that would dwarf the CMP corridor just so they can rape and pillage Aroostook county which would be the net loser with decimated land and drastically higher rates. These people are vermin, LePage knew it and tried to stop it, Mills is part of the cabal along with King and Baldacci and a bunch of other leftist that are lining their pockets with taxpayers money! 


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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