Maine Wind Industry: You Want Rights, Form Towns and Pass Ordinances (Wall Street Journal)

Wind Farms in Maine Stir a Power Struggle

Some Locals Balk as Developers Look to Fill Energy Demand

Dec. 23, 2013 10:45 p.m. ET
The recent appetite for wind power comes largely from Massachusetts and Connecticut, where laws require rising use of renewable power.
In Connecticut, opposition to some small wind proposals led to a 2011 moratorium on wind projects. Lawmakers said they want wind-specific siting rules before lifting the moratorium and have turned down multiple proposals.

Larry Dunphy, a Republican state representative for a swath of rural Maine, recently posited a future when "you won't be able to climb a mountain without seeing blinking red lights and spinning turbines."

Lawsuits and permit appeals seeking to block projects are common, though it has proven difficult to get around a 2008 state law that spurred wind development, said Lynne Williams, an attorney in Bar Harbor who represents wind-farm opponents.

The law, passed under former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, set aggressive goals for adding wind power while simplifying the regulatory process in much of the state.

Jeremy Payne, executive director at the Maine Renewable Energy Association, disagreed that people in those areas lost a voice through the 2008 law. They need to form towns to pass ordinances, he said. He said wind power brings some economic development to backwoods regions that could use a boost. "This is something we should be embracing," he said.
In Oakfield, a remote northern town of about 740 people, retired electrical engineer Dennis Small is worried about noise from a $350 million, 48-tower First Wind project in early-stage construction. The facility will churn out megawatts under contract to customers in Massachusetts. He pointed to Mars Hill, another northern Maine town where noise and other complaints fueled confidential settlements between First Wind and nearby homeowners roughly two years ago, the homeowners' attorney said.

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Comment by Sherwin Start on December 29, 2013 at 11:09pm

Isn't IRONICAL-The Wind Power Turbines Make So mUch NOise They Are Actually DRIVING Out The THe  Wind Power Turbines are Driving People out of the STATE ,People That They SUPPOSED to PRovide LOW Cost Energy Too! The WIND Power Production CONSORTIUMS Do not Care If They Sell Their Power to Mainers-There is ALWAYS A Markeyt for their Product Elsewhere AT ANY PRICE! Its Like The OIL INDUSTRY-They Dont care WHO they Sell Their Product The MIGHTY Dollar BIll Owes No one Any LOYALTY-thats why they sell their product overseas!

Comment by rick wood on December 24, 2013 at 2:22pm

 Where is Baldacci now?

 He should be strapped to the blade 

 of a wind turbine and made to drink the blood of dead eagles.

 Better yet, lets strap his stupid ass to a turbine when the first charge is set.

Comment by Dan McKay on December 24, 2013 at 11:16am

While wind driven energy displaces other generation it can only replace 5-15% of the capacity on a regional power system without compromising security of supply. In other words, the build out of wind energy facilities in Maine to provide " virtual green power " to Mass. and Conn. brings a real risk to power interruptions locally.  

Comment by Long Islander on December 24, 2013 at 11:03am

Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. signs power deal with First Wind

Taking $Billions in federal subsidies, using a tiny amount of this to buy off landowners, enviro groups, politicians, etc. and gag homeowners to blight Maine with turbines and transmission that will increase rates, satisfying policy goals for Mass (whose ratepayers when asked will NOT pay extra for wind electricity) and Ct. (who bans turbines) - both of whose residents likely pay no attention to the laws created by their misguided legislatures, while making even more money selling the Midwest coal plants a license to pollute Maine - all under the cover of serving a higher moral purpose, made possible by the bought off enviro groups and the largely biased media.
Am I missing anything here with this observation of what is taking place?
Comment by Harrison Roper on December 24, 2013 at 10:54am

  The appetite in Connecticut and Mass is not for actual wind power; it is for "capacity", which their law blindly and ignorantly requires. I say ignorantly because the lawmakers pay no attention to the poor record of power production that inland wind power has in New England.

   According to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission Maine's  "wind farms" produced less than 25% of their installed capacity in 2012. Maine's inland wind power is poor at best, but the promoters and lawmakers swallow the Koolade of "new technology" and go for "capacity", ignoring the dismal historical facts of poor power production.  Harrison Roper  Houlton/Danforth

Comment by Long Islander on December 24, 2013 at 10:39am

Can we at least take a big step back and observe the taxpayer is being forced to fund an industry that gags people with bribery as a matter of course? Why is one red cent of our money paying for bribes?

Comment by Gary Campbell on December 24, 2013 at 10:34am

In other words, Jeremy Payne knows what's best for all of us.

Payne and the MREA assert that because we are not embracing wind energy, which they say we must, it is perfectly acceptable to force us to form towns before we can have a voice in something that impacts us.

What is happening to America?

Comment by Richard McDonald/Saving Maine on December 24, 2013 at 10:19am

The WSJ article was not a good story for anyone fighting the wind developers. Our story was not represented at all. Larry Dunphy is a great friend and did what he could, but the article clearly favored the developer. Too bad.


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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