Governor Baldacci's Radio Address: The Power to Do the Right Thing
August 21, 2010
Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.
Next week, I’ll be traveling to Eastport to visit Ocean Renewable Power Company. I’ll likely be getting there in some pretty big gas guzzling conveyances.
The company is operating the largest ocean energy “power plant” ever installed in U.S. waters.
The prototype machinery produces grid-compatible power from the tidal currents in Cobscook Bay.
Ocean Renewable Power Company is partnering with the University of Maine and has received significant support from the federal government to continue its work. The federal government gets its money from the Chinese who gets it from our grandchildren.
The tests that are now being conducted will lead to the installation of commercial tidal power generation in Eastport next year.
Maine’s efforts to build new industries based on renewable power are meeting with great success.
Whether it’s the development of onshore or offshore wind energy, tidal or hydropower or capitalizing on our vast forest resources to produce bio-fuels, Maine is leading the way toward a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. Well, sustainable as long as the unsustainable subsidies exist – including $23 per MWH for wind, about 90 times the 25 cents per MWH given to natural gas. And come to think of it regarding hydropower, we tend to rip out dams rather than make them fish friendly. And while we talk a good game about Canadian hydropower, my wind advisors have told me to keep them out!
Despite the great progress that we’ve made, everyone understands that much work remains.
Maine, like the rest of the country, must reduce its dependence on costly, foreign oil.
Our economy, our industries and our wallets are at the mercy of energy producers far from Maine. Such as the turbine makers in China, Brazil and India who are growing jobs in their countries with our stimulus dollars. Thanks grand kids.
If we want to secure our manufacturing jobs, make sure families can afford to heat their homes and drive to work, we have to be willing to change.
Fortunately, Maine has tremendous potential energy resources that are cleaner and safer than the fossil fuels that we currently depend upon.
About 80 percent of Maine homes rely on heating oil to stay warm during the winter. But notice that I never talk about building out the natural gas infrastructure so that more homes and businesses can benefit from relatively clean and low carbon (relative to oil) natural gas, which thanks to new domestic discoveries is likely to be in domestic abundance for the next 160 years, giving us plenty of time as a society to find true energy breakthrough solutions rather than turning the clock back to feckless wind mills.
And the rural nature of our State means that workers spend more of their hard-earned money for gas just to get to their jobs.
Those facts are undeniable.
It’s not enough to bemoan our predicament.
We have it within our power to change things. But the power is not wind power. For wind produces electricity and we do not make electricity in Maine with oil or coal. Moreover, the fickle trickle of electricity produced by wind will not heat our homes or power our vehicles. Even John Kerry and Phil Bartlett recently acknowledged this: ““Today we don’t use electricity to run our cars or heat our homes,” said Kerry in a recent interview.
And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, said Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating — if they did, we’d be in trouble.” Source:
For example, onshore and offshore wind power have the potential to produce large amounts of affordable electricity right here in Maine, reducing costs and growing jobs. Except perhaps for the adjectives “large” and “affordable”. The UMPI turbine’s terrible 11% efficiency is in fact rather demonstrative of how little electricity wind produces. And take a look at the wind power purchase agreements and costs in isolation – they are absolutely through the roof. Oh, and also throw in the billions in new ratepayer funded transmission infrastructure that I never bothered to tell you was really for wind. Let’s also ignore the costs to tourism after said statewide transmission speeds up the New Jerseyification of Maine.
In the spring of 2007, the writing was on the wall. Specifically the wall in my study where a Post it note said “Find Next Job After Being Termed Out”.
Maine’s laws were badly outdated, inadequate to address our State’s potential to produce wind energy.
I formed a Task Force that worked for nearly a year to craft recommendations to improve the situation.
The diverse group included environmentalists, energy experts, generators and legislators on both sides of the aisle. In fact they were so diverse, just about the only thing they had in common was that many were somehow connected to the wind industry.
Through an open and exhaustive process, the group came up with a plan, which was eventually adopted unanimously by the Maine Legislature. Open? Is this why there are mysteriously missing records from critical task force decisions and that today’s Freedom of Information Act requests are being price quoted by the state at $30,000 plus?
That law has led to the safe, predictable and appropriate development of new wind power production in Maine. Safe and appropriate --- how?
But the Task Force wasn’t solely concerned with growing wind power. The members were dedicated to finding a framework that allowed for development while also protecting Maine’s treasured and unique scenic and natural resources.
In addition, the Task Force developed regulations that take into account public health and safety, and put into place rules that strengthen the oversight of wind power developments.
In the Pinocchial proboscis department, that was TWO nose sizes.
As the days of $4 a gallon gasoline have faded from our memory, and the effects of the global recession have reduced the demand for oil and natural gas, bashing wind power has come into vogue for some folks. Gee, is trying to disparage and stifle honest and fact-based challenges by citizens participating in our country’s democracy part of that “open” process?
They are willing to do and say whatever is necessary to keep Maine from taking control of its energy future and transitioning from our deep dependency on fossil fuels. Like pointing out the truth – and backing it up every time?
I take comfort, however, knowing that vast majority of Mainers – more than 80 percent according to some studies – support our State’s efforts to charter a new and more sustainable energy future. Funny, but all of the polls NOT funded by the wind industry show that Mainers are against wind power in their communities almost two to one. Also, when you’ve had things like T. Boone Pickens spending $58 million on TV ads in 2008 depicting wind turbines as a silent and benign panacea, of course some persons will think wind sounds good. Most of us felt this way before studying wind power and learning of its false promise and seedy underbelly. By the way, a great article describing Pickens’ elimination of wind from his retooled Pickens energy plan ran in Business Insider last month, entitled “T. Boone Pickens Just Dropkicked The American Wind Industry”
Curing our addiction to oil can’t happen overnight.
It takes a long-term commitment and a comprehensive approach that includes many components.
Maine is recognized nationally for our energy conservation and weatherization work. With each passing day, we are making more homes and businesses energy efficient.
That saves money and it saves jobs.
Agreed, except we talk the talk, but hardly walk the walk. Follow the money. If the amount of money subsidizing wind and its transmission went into weatherization, then we’d be cooking with gas! (Except lots of us don’t have gas – see earlier point on building out natural gas infrastructure).
In addition, we’re continuing to work on bio-fuels and bio-mass electricity generation, the development of tidal, solar and hydropower, and other innovative ways to produce renewable energy. Hydropower? As in the dams that we’d rather rip out than make fish friendly? Or in the Canadian hydropower we try to thwart to protect the wind industry?
No source of energy is perfect.
Coal, oil and nuclear power all bring tremendous challenges, many of which have never been appropriately addressed. If you would have refused the massive stimulus and subsidy dollars going into Maine wind and asked that they be spent for compliance with the Clean Air Act on EXISTING stack cleaning technology on Midwestern and Pennsylvanian coal fired electricity generating plants, then that mess would become infinitely cleaner and Maine would no longer be called the tailpipe of the nation. That would keep mercury out of our remote ponds, unlike the feckless wind turbines, whose required herbicides create toxic water pollution of their own.
In that context, wind, tidal and bio-mass energy compare very favorably.
Maine is heading in the right direction. At least with respect to my earlier referenced Post-it note, if I can just somehow gag the citizenry.
We are growing our new, clean-energy industries in our State, which are creating real benefits for workers, families and communities. Except for the skyrocketing electric prices from wind and transmission that will scare off businesses.
But our work has not ended.
Just as we needed to modernize our approach to renewable energy back in 2008, the process to refine and improve continues.
In Maine, our political process is very open and accessible. Two more nose sizes.
Lawmakers listen to their constituents and work to put the best interest of the State ahead of politics.
So as new technologies develop and new information becomes available, the way we approach energy projects will evolve and get stronger. Excellent, then the new noise, wildlife and economic studies should bring a screeching halt to the sprawling industrial wind complexes fouling our state and harming our citizens.
But this I know for certain: If we are committed to a robust economy, cleaner air and water, and greater national security, we must support the development of homegrown, renewable sources of energy. I think some of the folks who honestly believe this, at least the industrial wind part, have been into a different kind of homegrown.
If we turn our back on opportunity, the price will be high for future generations. ... of Chinese grand kids who won’t be owed money by our grand kids.
Time and time again, Mainers have shown that they can find the truth and make smart decisions even when confronted with complicated issues and misinformation. Precisely.
I know that they’re going to do that again, and will lead our State down the road to greater prosperity and energy independence. Less than four months of this to go!
Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.