Why I Chose to be Arrested at Rollins Mountain by Don Smith

Why I Chose to be Arrested at Rollins Mountain

My name is Don Smith. I am a native Mainer and I am 82 years old. I am a veteran and a grandfather. I was arrested and charged with criminal trespass at the Rollins Mt. wind project site in Lincoln on November 8. Five were arrested as we formed a human barricade to the site. Dozens of others braved the cold rainy November day to protest First Wind’s project.

Many people have asked me why I did this. Good question. I hope I give good answers. The first reason is that nobody seems to be paying attention to the negative aspects of wind power. Least of all is the complacent and complicit media in Maine. If we had just stood out there with signs, even the local reporter would likely have overlooked the event. By putting myself on the line to dramatize why this project is so wrong, it caught the attention of media far and wide.

It seems that most people understand utility scale (or industrial) wind power superficially, accepting wind power as “green” and “clean” and the panacea for solving energy and climate challenges. It is the result of years of masterful propaganda by the wind industry. Some of us have actually done a lot of research into industrial wind and have found huge negatives. By dramatically raising the visibility of the issue with the arrests, we are getting people to discover these negatives as the follow up dialogue transpires.

I have gained insights from my research into industrial wind. The wind industry would not exist without massive government subsidies. For example: the US Energy Information Administration reports that in 2007, wind received $23.37 per megawatt hour in subsidies; the next highest subsidy was $1.59 for nuclear. Those are our tax dollars going into something that doesn’t work.

We are putting up wind turbines in places where there isn’t enough wind to generate electricity. Look at the NREL map of wind potential in Maine. The area around Lincoln Lakes is all white. Look at the color code and white means “poor”. My guess is wind turbines are not about generating electricity, they are about selling a carbon tax in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates, raking in Production Tax Credits, and having the taxpayers pay the cost of construction.

Another reason I got arrested is to protest the proliferation of these industrial wind projects. I retired to live a quiet life on Caribou Pond, with a view of Rollins Mt. That ridge will have fifteen turbines, each 389 feet high. The total number of turbines will be forty on Rollins Mt. and the ridges of Rocky Dundee. An acoustics expert stated that the noise from these turbines will negatively impact hundreds of people on the lakes and nearby country roads, the same well-documented noise problems that have been experienced at Mars Hill, Freedom, and Vinalhaven.

I am not a NIMBY. I don’t believe these industrial machines belong anywhere in the rural landscape. Not in anyone’s yard---back yard, front yard, side yard. The noise issue is just one of many. If you could see the destruction of Rollins Mt. taking place right now, you would never consider this a “green” project. The DEP would fine me if I moved a rock at my home, yet they approved ridges being blasted away and scalped. They will never be the same. The Rollins project will blast away more than seven miles of ridges and clear-cut more than one thousand acres and install twenty miles of powerlines to tie into the grid.

That is for just one project. Without thinking through the ramifications, in 2008 the Legislature passed LD 2283, a horrible law to give favoritism to wind power. They chose an arbitrary figure of 2700 MW of installed capacity by 2020, which at a generous actual output of 25%, ends up being just 675 MW of intermittent, unpredictable, unreliable power. If Rollins is 60 MW, then it will mean 45 more projects like this to achieve that goal. Do the math. Based on the impact of Rollins, that means at least 315 miles of Maine ridges and mountains blasted away to install 1800 turbines; 45,000 acres or more of carbon sequestrating forest permanently clear-cut; and 1,000 miles or more of new powerlines. The price? Rollins’ pricetag of $130 million times 45 is a staggering $5.85 billion.

Why did I get arrested? To help bring forth what a folly this is and how damaging it is to Maine’s environment. Wind power is bad economics and bad public policy. It is far from “green”. The negative impacts of these projects on the environment and our quality of place far outweigh the pittance of good they might do for the planet.

Don Smith is placed in the Lincoln police cruiser after being arrested, along with four other members of a human blockade, for "Criminal Tresspass" at the Rollins Project of First Wind in Lincoln, Maine on November 8, 2010. As each person was led to cruisers in handcuffs, the placard waving crowd clapped and cheered their heros. The arrests propelled coverage of the event to the front pages of the state's newspapers and ignited a fresh round of discussion about the proliferation of industrial wind sites in Maine. See the photos section of the CTFWP website for photos of the environmental devastation happening to Rollins Mt. and the ridges of Rocky Dundee in the name of so-called "green" energy.

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Comment by Barbara Durkin on May 7, 2015 at 12:22pm

Thank you, Don, for your sacrifice, and to the other four patriots I offer my gratitude, too.

Green politics rule.  Greed and graft, and industry cultivated hysteria, as opposed to Public Merit, deploys wind turbines.  Your essay cites many reasons why wind offers net zero benefits to the public and environment.  But, the will of the people and our needs are being ignored.  Needs of developers are addressed by local boards and regulators at the state and federal level.  It seems they've been compromised, or exploited because they lack the facts, knowledge you have acquired.  We fund the blasting of mountaintops, and the clear cutting of trees not only beautiful, but they’re an economical and very effective carbon sink within critical habitat.  How intuitively counter-productive is it to destroy what needs to be preserved for future generations?   Is this homeopathy, "like cures like"?  To address environmental damage caused by industrialization we should industrialize?  To save birds, we should kill them with wind turbines, and destroy their habitat?    

Ten years ago, I was swept into the Cape Wind debate entirely due to my objections about its adverse impact of aesthetic damage to Nantucket Sound.  I live an hour and ½ away, but visit often to enjoy its unspoiled and rustic character and scenic beauty.  It also recharges my spirit to witness unspoiled mountains, on skis particularly.  Why industrialize the ME mountain tops, or 24 square miles of ocean area between Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard?  These are world recognized tourist destination locations due to their beauty.  A Nantucket Sound "front yard" utility project would obliterate the night time skyline with its flashing red lights, while harming the integrity of National Historic Landmarks according to the federal regulator, then U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.  The blight is every bit as objectionable when wind turbines dominate once forested mountain ranges, and lakes' view-shed of Maine.

As I value integrity of NHL’s present, I submitted to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for their consideration Nantucket Sound as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Places.  Cape Wind had also awakened historic preservationists across the country, and they united in a valiant display of courage, with vision, to defend Nantucket Sound from industrial development by 130, 420' wind turbines.    

Nantucket Sound was subsequently affirmed Tribal Cultural Property TCP by the "Keeper" of the National Historic Register responsible under the Historic Preservation Act for listing of properties, and for their determination of eligibility for listing to the National Register. 

Federally recognized Tribes have been stewards of Nantucket Sound for over 10,000 years.  The notion that a limited liability corporation, LLC, wind developer, could interrupt this legacy of preservation, and threaten Tribe's ancients' remains, by threat of industrialization, awakened the entire historic preservation community, including those representing more than 25 sovereign nations, federally recognized Tribes.    

In a brazen display of arrogance, former Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar arrived in a black cowboy hat, (here’s a reprint of this pic. of Salazar taken five years ago)..  http://www.capecodtimes.com/article/20150503/BUSINESS/150509903#Rea...

…to engage in the Cape Wind formal Government to Government Consultation,  under the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Consultation Process, with the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, and other representatives of the federally recognized Tribe. But, Interior Secretary Salazar left the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer behind during his tour of their Sacred Land to consider Cape Wind’s impacts to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah.  

Secretary Salazar and President Obama dismissed their only legal Advisor by approving Cape Wind. 

The National Historic Preservation Act established the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation ACHP. The ACHP is the only entity with the legal responsibility to encourage federal agencies, and the U.S. President, to factor historic preservation into federal project requirements. The ACHP recommended that Secretary Salazar deny Cape Wind, and the Secretary ignored the ACHP and approved Cape Wind.

The Tribes are the authority on the Nantucket Sound Tribal Cultural Property subject Issues and they recommend Salazar deny Cape Wind.  More than 25 Federally Recognized Tribes called upon Secretary Salazar to deny Cape Wind, but the Secretary ignored the Tribes:


The Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Officer's SHPO findings favored the Tribes against Cape Wind:


The National Parks Service and the Keeper uphold the SHPO findings that favor the Tribes against Cape Wind:


The National Trust for Historic Preservation findings supported Mass Historic Commission MHC's opinion, and National Park's Service's determination of Nantucket Sound's National Register eligibility based on information provided by the authority on these matters, the Tribes, and National Trust rejected Cape Wind.


Noting the extraordinary leap of faith on the part of the largest assembly in the history of our nation of Native American's, President Obama made a promise to have meaningful consultation with Tribes. "Today's conference is not lip service" stated our President, the adopted son of the Crow:

President Obama and Secretary Salazar, however, honored Limited Liability Corporations over treaties with Federally Recognized Tribes, more than 25 sovereign nations, when they approved Cape Wind.


Politics advanced Cape Wind, not public merit, not only in the historic preservation arena. 

Fast forward to Nov 2014.  Now England mourns its lost beauty by collapsed planning control that allowed wind turbines to proliferate and to destroy the English countryside.

Desecration! In a ferocious parting blast, the outgoing chairman of the National Trust accuses an arrogant and philistine political class of ruining some of our loveliest countryside 

  • Outgoing National Trust chairman said English countryside is threatened
  • Simon Jenkins said we should grade countryside as with historic houses 
  • Farmland has been replaced by warehouses, estates and wind turbines 

 “Outgoing National Trust chairman Simon Jenkins said the English countryside is under serious threat, pictured is Sandford Orcas in Dorset

Rolling farmland is replaced by warehouses, bleak housing estates, wind turbines and advertising hoardings in fields. It is the start of the 'tat' that is familiar the world over when planning control collapses.

I am sure politicians such as David Cameron, George Osborne, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg never rose one morning and declared: 'This is just how I want England to look.' They have probably not noticed. 

They holiday in 'unspoilt' places at home or abroad, and see England only from train and car windows…”


Keep fighting to prevent the blight from consuming your back yards in ME.  The wind developers will exploit well intended by ill informed local boards and Maine’s scenic beauty, and we will fund this destruction if we remain complicit in our silence. 

Cape Wind will find me in a rowboat swinging my oars if this developer survives, which appears very unlikely :)

Thank you, all, who are engaged and voicing your objections to the wind scam, and risking arrest.    

Comment by Mary Elen Marucci on November 23, 2010 at 11:42pm
Hi Don.

I thank you for your stand and eloquent explanation. I too was dupped into thinking wind was green and clean. While doing a GIS project for the Fort Kent area, I became aware of the noise issue, but also the economic incentives for the companies and the potentially sited towns ( and states). I think you covered that well. What I haven't heard yet is all the loss of divesity of plants and animals
unique to these mountain ridges. With global change upon us the drive to monoculture is not sustainable, and we need all the diversity we can get!
Comment by Denise Hall on November 17, 2010 at 8:52am

You are incredible! I work in Westbrook and a bunch of my friends asked me if I was one of the people who got arrested at Rollins. You have brought needed attention to our cause and opened up the door for many conversations about how wind power is not a good thing for the mountains of Maine. We should try to distribute your story widely. And you should be mighty proud of your new founded criminal background ;-)
Comment by Brad Blake on November 17, 2010 at 12:13am
Don Smith is my HERO!!! He wrote this piece and I helped with editing. It has been submitted to the Portland Press Herald as a "Maine Voices" essay. Let's hope it gets published. Don has lots more to say, but the essay had to be limited to 750 words. Don is a great guy, has been with Friends of Lincoln Lakes since its formation, and climbed Rollins Mt. with me in 85 degree heat back on July 4th, which, by the way, had not a whisper of wind that day. He drove a group of us up the mountain the day before the Rollins Rally, enabling me to take the photos that are on this website. Thank you, Don, for all you have done to help our cause!


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 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From 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?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From 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.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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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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