It would be nice if ordinary citizens had the money to hire lobbying groups, as the corporate wind developers and forest landowners do. Then, we could pay lobbyists such as Paul Williamson of The Maine Ocean and Wind Industry Initiative to write letters to the editor for us (BDN, Nov. 13, “Wind energy success”) and lobby state and local governments.
The Maine wind industry has not been a success, contrary to Williamson’s claim. Maine’s inland wind is marginal at best, so wind developers seldom achieve more than 25 percent of their promised capacity. Paradoxically, developers profit through tax credits to build wind projects, not produce power. Taxpayers foot the bill for these tax credits and for the new transmission lines needed to get Maine’s skimpy wind power to population centers. And the kicker is that southern New England states purchase our wind power so they can bargain with renewable energy credits to continue burning fossil fuels in traditional power plants. So much for saving the planet with wind power.
As for the wind industry benefiting Maine’s rural economy, wind development usually also brings enormous community strife, turning neighbor against neighbor. Just ask residents of Mars Hill, Freedom, Vinalhaven, Carroll or Frankfort how wind development affected their communities. Rural areas will not benefit 20 years from now when turbines break down, and there is no money to pay developers to fix them — and no tourists who want to visit Maine’s industrial wasteland.