I am writing today to plead to the Energy, Utilities, and Technology committee to take BOLD ACTION when considering the various wind-related LDs that were heard by your committee. Having been involved with the citizens’ battle against the destructive proliferation of utility scale wind power projects for 5 years, I strongly believe that PL 661 must be repealed. The bills before you only “nibble at the edges” of what is wrong with this statute.
- Never before has such promotion been provided to a single industry, yet this is an industry that would not even exist except for unduly favorable subsidies, tax treatment, regulatory treatment, and mandates.
- The Governor’s Wind Task Force was a stacked deck that led to legislation that was rammed through the last hours of the short session of the Legislature in April 2008 with the minimum legal requirements being met. Such a far reaching law with huge ramifications should have had years of public education, debate, input, and careful consideration by lawmakers.
- The basis for the “emergency” preamble and the premises of the bill (“findings” of a Legislature that never read the bill!) were false from the beginning and have been refuted in its entirety.
- The results of utility scale wind development are showing, whereby the large projects in Maine have just 24.27% capacity factor in 2012, based on reporting by the wind industry to FERC. Examining data from regional grid operator ISO-New England proves that wind power is unpredictable, unreliable, cannot be dispatched when needed, is expensive, has caused expensive expansion of transmission lines and equipment to handle this skittering source of electricity, and is considered only in the surplus planning as it cannot be a base-load or base-load following supplier. Since Maine (and New England) do not need this electricity and it is being mandated based on arbitrary, ideology-based RPS, is it worth the losses to Maine to continue to promote expansion of this industry as state policy? Shouldn’t state policy be to allow wind power to develop based on market forces like all other industry?
- Based on projections from the impact of existing wind projects, a build-out of the PL 661 goal of 2700 MW of on-shore capacity by 2020 will mean more than 300 miles of Maine’s mountain ridgelines will be blasted, leveled, and scalped; to put up 1500 more 45 story tall machines; resulting in 50,000 acres of carbon-sequestering forest being clearcut; a spiderweb of new powerlines criss crossing the state to connect to the trunk lines; and at least 2 more 345 kv lines similar in impact to the MPRP to carry intermittent surges of wind power out of state.
- The cost of wind power must be measured not only in its increase in electricity and delivery rates but also in the toll on residents and wildlife. People are being hurt in Freedom, Vinalhaven, Mars Hill, Lincoln, and Lee. Injury to health and well being of Maine residents must not be tolerated. Wind power development results in loss of value to property and to loss of market opportunity. Lastly, the state’s vaunted “Quality of Place”, regarded as Maine’s greatest asset in the Brookings Institute study in 2007 is being destroyed by utility scale wind power development. Important sector’s of Maine’s $10 billion per year tourism industry are hurt by this intrusion.
The citizens of the state petitioned the Legislature in good faith two years ago to modify PL 661. This same committee, swayed by obvious supporters of the wind industry serving on the committee, voted “Ought Not to Pass” on every LD. Recognition that the citizens had valid criticisms, however, led the committee to order an independent study. The OEIS report by primary author Steve Ward contains a modicum of recommendations to bring changes to this law that are so innocuous that no changes will hinder the industry in a major way. But it is a start towards a more fair balance between the interests of the citizens and this favored industry.
BE BOLD! Enact a bill that will clearly, in a short time frame, implement the recommendations of the OEIS report. Bring fair treatment to the negatively impacted people of Freedom and Vinalhaven by incorporating their bills. Allow the residents of the Unorganized Townships located in the Expedited Wind Zone to have the same equal opportunity of self determination regarding siting of wind power projects in those areas. Repeal the 100 MW limit on Renewable Sources of Energy to allow all sources to be part of our electricity mix and let the market forces decide.
BE BOLD! Recognize that in two legislative sessions, there is overwhelming evidence that there are numerous, serious flaws to PL 661. Hastily enacted legislation usually results in poor public policy and this is a prime example. Oder a complete, top to bottom, completely open and transparent review of this law with the intent to have legislation to regulate the wind industry to replace PL 661 in time for the short session of the Legislature next year. With a change in composition of the EUT Committee, the citizens expected the Legislature to listen to well researched and well reasoned critiques of a bad law and not just protect the wind industry. After all, it the citizens’ interests that must be paramount to a special interest.
3 Hearn Road
Scarborough, Maine 04074
Co-chair, Citizens’ Task force on Wind Power