NEWS FLASH: Maine poll exposes softness in wind energy support

Maine poll exposes softness in wind energy support

May 20, 2014


“For years wind developers have peddled the general benefits of wind energy, and they have a lot of financial resources behind them that we’ll never match,” O’Neil said. “People certainly want to believe it’s all good. But impacts to Maine exceed the benefits, and these poll results point out weak support for industrial wind when that shortfall is understood. Mainers expect tangible benefits for the enormous investment the government is forcing taxpayers and ratepayers to make in wind energy.”

O’Neil noted that almost 80% of respondents reported that they’re less likely to support building industrial wind turbines “if the development will not positively impact Maine.”

O’Neil said skepticism about wind energy is increasing, and as a result Maine policy makers are starting to ask much tougher questions about the benefits of industrial wind turbines in sensitive mountain areas. He pointed to several anti-wind bills in the last Legislative session that fared well, including legislation that would have eliminated the state’s “megawatt goals” and replaced them with a policy objective of demonstrated and “tangible” benefits.

Almost 80% Move to Unfavorable When They Get Facts

At the site, please be sure to click on the PDF in the second paragraph to see the poll's results.

Related reading:

Wind Industry: "The more people know about wind energy, the less th...

And a perfect example of this in Maine is that in over 90% of cases, whenever a wind ordinance or moratorium has been put on the ballot in Maine towns, voters go against the wind corporations. How's that for a poll?

When people understand the true environmental and economic costs of wind, including higher electricity rates, higher taxes, lower property values, negative effects on tourism, wind loses. The fact that wind in Maine creates wealth for Boston outsiders, Augusta insiders and Portland law firms simply doesn't impress average Mainers, once they come to see past the wind industry's relentless propaganda.

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Comment by Martha thacker on May 21, 2014 at 6:20pm

"Those are rather at a head locally, but I can't tell if the battles are win by attrition, or if some real progress is being made."

I am thinking, real progress is being made due to the criminality of First Wind being so blatant. The banks that they have  been using every since they arrived on the scene in ME are the worst ...being investigated and fined. My guess is that the money is drying up for a lot of marginal corporations in general . Wind farms have lost support in the House so the subsidies are drying up..And of course, they can't make money in an honest way.

Interesting that Mars Hill isn't in Iso NE. It was decided during the building of Stetson(right after Mars Hill) that some power plants would have to close down to make room for wind. There were 3 targeted. Indeck was one. It closed because ISO would not pay agreed upon price for power. One close to Mars Hill closed because they said  ISO could buy power cheaper from Canada. Brookfield was targeted but they hired a team of lawyers. (seems odd that they even had to) Lisa Linowes said that they concentrated mostly on the grid...she couldn't understand their stance but I guess it worked. They didn't have to close down.

Comment by Kathy Sherman on May 21, 2014 at 10:04am
Martha -
More to the points of your comments and knowledge. 1) Mars Hill is not even in ISO-NE, and as I understand it is very small grid operator with poor credit rating. 2) I think that I read that an active decision was made, probably more by Emera, to built transmission north to the Maritimes rather than south or west to serve the southern northeast load. 3) There are huge issues, not only about usefulness of the electrons generated, the costs of getting them where they are needed and grid (local 'locational' pricing, that are being either totally ignored or totally blindsided. That was particularly true for the long-term contracts 13-146 to 13-149 decided by MA DPU in early March where the DPU accepted, and indeed promoted, the argument that we don't know what reliability means and we can't assign transmission costs to any particular project. 4) You are right - I have seen the argument that it is great if the variable resource just knocks down the substation to which they pay for interconnection, rather than the entire grid from Ohio/Ontario as in that last big Blackout. 5) On the otherhand, First Wind did have FERC case to 'conceptually' approve their paying along with other generators, for merchant transmission south. The proposal seems to violate the major principle of open access to transmission lines, perhaps the reason that utilities were granted easements is the first place. I am wondering what happened to the idea of actually bringing the generation south and the variable generators, rather than ratepayers shouldering the burden of cost and risk. 6) There is more in the details of what you said now and in the previous quotes of SEC; in the Moody reaction to law court decision and I felt the brief filed by the Industrial Consumer Group was quite on the mark. 7).I am underwater and overwhelmed with the history of some of this stuff that I am only now learning from the 80s to 90s, and I don't mean just Enron or Bush inventing the RPS in Texas. 8) Those are rather at a head locally, but I can't tell if the battles are win by attrition, or if some real progress is being made.
It certainly helps to get input from up north, and I suggested to a MA group that we have the expert in the economics give ans updated Wiind Economics 101.
It won't ignore gas either.
It should deal with that pesky issue of who pays for legislated mandates requiring billions in transmission, and perhaps a host of otjer economic issues.
Comment by Kathy Sherman on May 21, 2014 at 8:50am
Follow the money has been the mantra, but which trail? And it is used even more by proponents of wind than opponents, to impute that wind critics are fossil fuel- or nuclear- or maybe tea-party, 19th century-libertarian Luddites.

Probably, the answer in both cases is the lobbyist, 'environmental lawyers' and consultants are who gets the bulk of the upfront money.

We know only one thing - that is not the ratepayers' money coming in and it is the ratepayers' bleeding out.

Re pensions- that is something that I have followed for a variety of reasons- one being that my limited income will be from a mid-western state's university pension system. That state grows a lot of corn but is east of Mississippi and not very wealthy in any energy resource.
More from living in NY, I realized the enormous wealth and influence of state pension systems - all non-transparent.

However, it was from what has come out in recent years from you folks in Maine about what Harvard and Yale endowments have invested in that is opening my eyes a bit more- the land holdings, as well as the deals.

Liberal Arts Universities are under a great deal of pressure to 'divest'. It is the new anti-Vietnam war, South Africa et al.
Those colleges include not only Harvard and Yale, but my own alma mater, and much more that Stamford home of the pipe dream to suck 50% of the wind offshore in the northeast. It may be a pipedream, but it and most of the other new energy technologies that I hear of, are put forth with great sales pitches for investors- translational from the lab to reality.

I wish that I had had such 'promoters' or the skills to do the same for my biomedical research. But it is quite a waste of energy, money and minds, in my humble opinion, to require that basic research have a pre-proven, competitive economic value. It has been a waste to put in the multi-billions without figuring out the need, cost of transmission and grid.
Comment by Martha thacker on May 21, 2014 at 4:45am

Kathy..interesting..I think you are at the heart of the

Clearly, you know more about the money aspect than I do. Forgive me for repeating myself..but..Mat Taibbi , financial journalist for Rolling Stone said,"Cap and Trade is the next bubble, only difference, the middle man is cut out..the money goes straight to Wall Street." 

I think what you are writing supports his opinion. 

Harvard University bought the power from Stetson II and half of the RECs..They bought the power when there was no way for it to even get to Mass. I think this is one of the reasons that the "upgrades" haven't begun. Because as the "upgrades" are discussed and then will be shown that the grid never could accomadate wind farms . It was at capacity from the outset. That is why the power from the first wind farm in ME went to Canada. First Wind's website would not admit it...stated that it was a trade secret where the power went. The town of Mars Hill was led to believe the power was for them ...the local people found out it went to Canada. Same for the Cohocton wind farm in NY(built by First Wind)..the local people found out the grid was at capacity....In both cases First Wind stated that "upgrades" would enable the wind farms to be in use by 2011. Didn't happen. Now First Wind's SEC report states that lack of transmitting capacity is a good thing...

State of ME , PUC, and First Wind really can't go all gung ho on transmission lines because it will be public knowledge all these wind farms were built just for the RECs. ..First Wind's SEC report states that in PPAs with other countries, (Canada) , no power has to be produced to make money.

That is why upper state ME and NY have been targeted....Money..not environment.So when the politicians start spewing save the environment, build a wind farm during campaign season, We should be waiting for them in their town halls etc. Let's give the environment at least as much respect as money in ME..and vote for reps. who do the same.

Comment by Kathy Sherman on May 20, 2014 at 5:30pm
None of that answer deals with the question of carbon credits. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI, auction or spot market trading or what might be valued for decreasing emissions or what should be charged. In my little opinion, mining of various sorts is energy intensive (and that is what I have seen the permanent scars of whether in Avon CT where it was a small portion of a hill to make clay for a gun manufacturer (Colt, I think), or on Cape Cod to put sand on beaches or make cement today, and all of us in New England have seen the scars of granite quarries. I don't know how many of you have been behind the smoke-spewing diesel of aheavily-laden truck or almost run over by an earth-mover redistributing sand in the futile attempt to save sand beaches so that fossil-driven vehicles can travel on them to go out and fish or camp.

The first is more my key complaint, and grid or not, we aren't a local, sustainable bunch and seemingly have no intention of becoming so. Maine needs the base load for electric, and more than that, it needs the transport that brings and exports goods. Still, I think that there is huge reason to understand energy economics and take this out of partisan politics and into the rural and wild, the semi-rural, ....

The issues about the grid were very well articulated in the commentary about First Wind-Emera, and I am hoping that we will have a summit to strengthen ratepayer and real environmental position. You know, Martha, who I want to explain this stuff The question is venue.
Comment by Kathy Sherman on May 20, 2014 at 4:59pm
Martha, I lost 20 minutes of a 60 minute answer and am not sure what goes on with tech these days. A briefer version is that the purchaser of the 'environmental attributes' quantified as Renewable Energy Certificates or tier 1 RECs can really be bought by anyone.
It is a totally unregulated, volatile and speculative market, although it was created in the name of price stability for electricity!

Personally, I would not compare it to the stock market, but more like a combo of hedge fund and the Chicago Commidities market for pork bellies. That is perhaps too kind.

Buyers include persons doing so as gifts to show their love, as was made apparent at the Massachusetts Wind Working Group immediately following the decision of MA DPU on those long-term contracts for First Wind and Iberdola back in March. Buyers can be the State of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center or variants thereof which has precontracted purchase of RECs as loans (& not just in-state) since 2003. The buyer could be Harvard who bought the first New Engl. 660 kW RECs from Hull for about the same, 4.5¢/kWh. The buyer could be my regional municipal aggregator buying for approx. the same.
Or now a contract for Hull Muni Light Plant RECs at 2¢/kWh was considered good because the going rate was half that. We have another small public turbine down here who said the price that they got varied from $17 to $54/MWh. Any of that is above industrial supply cost elsewhere.
The buyer could be Walmart, Google, IKEA, Citibank etc., but it seems likely that they would buy the cheap RECs from Texas, Dakotas, Iowa
Then there are these lonng-term contracts
Comment by Martha thacker on May 20, 2014 at 2:43pm


" Who buys those carbon credits?"

Interesting question..I gather it is somewhat like buying stocks. 

Have noticed BDN polls are quite unique me anyway. When I vote, then look for result, the questions are switched so I am actually being counted as the opposite of my intention. Next time , BDN does a poll, check it out. It has happened more than once for me. 


Comment by Kathy Sherman on May 20, 2014 at 1:59pm
And really where is the 'investment' of multi-millions coming from and going to. You have answered some of the first part in terms of ARRA and Sx 1603 and PTC, but where are those federal dollars coming from? And god love us, Connecticut and Massachusetts RATEpayers have been investing heavily in pre-development of wind energy in Maine and NH for more than 16 years, likely with not a single one of us really having any awareness of doing so. But now that the costs are clear, both in terms of Maine's environment and FUTURE COSTS to the RATEPAYERS throughout New England, you would think that it should be easy to stop this nonsense. Who would invest in something KNOWING that that investment is going to have negative returns for you? So where are those who benefit? They aren't the First Wind pyramid financing scheme of long-term power purchase agreements alone, nor are they the turbine manufacturers. My only hope is that the investors (hedge fund, foreign banks, big pension and endowment - hello Harvard and Yale) will all realize that wind energy does not belong where the resource is so limited. I could stop there, but let's add that chances of curtailment are great, transmission and grid won't be able to take it, economic damage risk is high, and so on. Where are those investors who want tax equity? Not amongst anyone I know. Feds and states with resource do get royalties from fossil fuel EXTRACTION; the subsidy does not seem to be for the use of those fuels in the generation of electricity. Am I wrong?
We are allowing the isssues of what we use fossils for, i.e. transport, home heat, industry to escape notice. Who buys those carbon credits?
Comment by Brad Blake on May 20, 2014 at 12:48pm

Opponents of useless and destructive wind projects have, for years, experienced more and more people agreeing that wind power development is not good for Maine whenever the proper context is included.  These questions posed by FMM via a highly respected polling firm prove that when the question gets context rather than agree/disagree that wind power is good, the tactic used by the wind industry to show support, support for wind power quickly erodes.   The more people become aware of the plethora of negatives and misinformation they have been fed for years, the more people become opposed to destruction of Maine's uplands for the folly of wind power.  That is also why there is far more opposition to wind power in the rural parts of the state where residents are assaulted by wind power development compared to urban/suburban areas of the state where it is so simplistic to embrace something that is not a threatening presence.  Let's hope that awareness of these poll questions & results will get more people to do their research about wind power development in Maine.


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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