Wind power’s grip on Augusta weakening

Updated: 11:32 AM 

Wind power’s grip on Augusta weakening

Rural Maine communities protest turbines, which they say deface 'God's country,' but wind developers say they've invested too much money to be shut out now.

By NAOMI SCHALIT and JOHN CHRISTIE The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting is a nonpartisan, non-profit news service based in Hallowell. Email: Web:

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Comment by Allen Barrette on May 22, 2013 at 8:34pm

DEP I'm placing you under arrest for fraudulent investigation, looking the other way when you should of looked to the residents of this land for direction. Other charges include but not limited to: dereliction of duty, manipulating the law, and taking bribes from state and local authorities. It is your duty as a department of protection to work for the people not against the people, you have shown time and time again that you can no longer work without supervision from the people. There is indisputable evidence that corporate wind farms are as harmful when the wind does not blow than when it does. The people are literally sick of the government doing nothing. Like the idiots that corporate wind is we expect more from our so called leaders in this matter. Now get moving and get this industry out of Maine for good.  Sincerely one ticked off taxpayer.

Comment by Martha thacker on May 22, 2013 at 6:41am

Thank you Steve and Monique for this summation of Maine's assault by wind power developers and politicians from the Baldaci administration. 

6) Financing wind turbines. This is a good illustration as to how law was changed mid stream and  bent in favor of the wind industry. I listened to a LURC hearing on the radio for a wind farm in western Maine. They were complimented for having their financial ability to finance the wind farm documented and in order. opposed to First Wind who didn't. BDN had an article with Matt Kearn stating that First Wind did not have the finances to build Stetson II. It was only after they received money from Obama's stimulus funds that they built it. That is just how quickly financing turned around for the wind developers. And of course , there was no public hearing for Stetson II. During this time Stetson I was foreclosed on. When the anti trust lawsuit was brought against First Wind it was speculated that the company was being used as a tax shelter. Whether that was true or not remains to be seen, but what is evident was they were operating outside the law ...very similar to Enron.

Comment by Monique Aniel Thurston on May 21, 2013 at 9:47pm

 We believe there are serious flaws in the process which created and now sustains Maine’s aggressive agenda for land based wind power. 

1.      Assumption of health and climate benefits.  There is no scientific evidence that wind power projects in Maine (or elsewhere) will have any direct or indirect effects on Maine’s air quality or the global climate, yet a presumption of such benefits is the foundation upon which Maine’s wind power agenda is based.   Such claims continue, as we see in First Wind’s application in Oakfield, where it is asserted that improved health will result from the cleaner air created by this wind project.  One source of this incredibly unscientific claim is no less than the former Director of Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Where are the peer reviewed studies upon which such claims are based?  They do not exist, and yet policy is determined as if such claims are undisputed facts.  The Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power admitted that there was disagreement about wind power’s ability to reduce fossil fuel emissions and left it up to the legislature to decide.  The governor’s Emergency Bill, LD 2283, was drafted to make the presumption of climate benefits un-rebuttable but the supporting evidence is missing.

2.      Assumptions about the moderating effect of wind power on the market price of electricity.  There is no evidence that wind generated electricity will have any significant effect on the price of electricity in the ISO-NE market.  Wind power receives subsidies which are worth more per MW than the average cost of a MW of electricity in the ISO-NE wholesale market today.  Without these massive subsidies industrial wind investment would not exist, because the cost would make wind uncompetitive with the mix of generation sources available today and in the foreseeable future. 

3.      Disregard for the degree to which wind turbines alter the character of the area where they are located, based on the misguided belief that turbines deserve special treatment because of their supposed benefit to society.  Maine’s mountains have been protected from intrusive development for decades but now they are fair game for wind developers.  No economic impact analysis,  or cumulative impact analysis was done by the Governor’s Task Force. Ignoring the present and future value of Maine’s unspoiled scenic vistas creates a distorted view of wind power’s benefits.  

4.      Failure to acknowledge the experiences of people living near turbines, not only in Maine but worldwide, whose lives are invaded by the sounds produced by these massive machines.  Instead of listening to the complaints of residents living near Maine’s first few wind projects,  Maine government had ignored them and given the wind industry a free pass to continue placing ever larger and noisier wind turbines too close to homes ,until last  July when ,thanks  to  a  citizen initiated petition requesting  the BEP to engage in rulemaking , nightime  noise  limits  where  brought from 45  DBA  to 42 DbA.
To make matters worse, wind developers are permitted to purchase noise easements from land owners whose properties are too close to meet noise limits, and to enter into lease agreements with landowners who agree to allow turbines on their property, without disclosing the potential health effects that may arise from the projected noise levels.  In granting noise easements and leasing land for turbines, landowners are bound by “gag order” clauses that prohibit them from complaining about noise if it becomes an issue.  There needs to be a warning label – Wind turbines may be hazardous to your health. Substantial evidence shows that industrial wind turbine noise may cause sleep disturbance, anxiety, vertigo, headaches, annoyance and other health effects for some people. 

5.      The appearance of conflict of interest by lawmakers.  The ex co-chair of the UTE committee  which  killed  all  the  bills  trying  to  amend  the wind energy Act in  2011 ,works for an engineering firm which benefits from wind power development.  Another committee member’s wife is the lead attorney for wind project permitting and litigation in the state.  These committee members’ strong support for wind power is tainted by these associations and the public’s trust in government is eroded by the appearance of conflict of interest.  They should  have recused themselves from participating in wind power legislation.

6.      Irregularities in the permitting process.  The law is clear that financial capacity must be demonstrated prior to the start of construction.  In the Rollins Wind project, First Wind received DEP approval to begin construction without proof of financing even as their IPO failed and was withdrawn.  In the Record Hill Wind project an illegal condition was included in the final order allowing construction to begin without evidence of financing.   The word “construction” in the draft order was changed to “operation” in the final order issued 5 days later.   When questioned about financial capacity by interested parties the DEP referred to the changed condition but also  asked Record Hill Wind to provide updated financials.  Record Hill Wind responded that it did not have financing in place but was relying on the changed condition to move forward with construction.    The DEP project manager claims the wording change was a drafting and editing error but that is not a believable explanation.  The assistant attorney general who acts as legal counsel for the DEP has not responded to repeated requests to explain how and why this change was made.  Only when Record Hill Wind received a US Dept of Energy Loan Guarantee almost 2 years after the commencement of construction did the project wrap up its financing package.

7.       DEP must  hold public hearings on controversial aspects of  all wind project applications, particularly noise and scenic .   The DEP has , prefered “public meetings” which do not allow cross examination of witnesses,  documentation in the record of how every piece of evidence is considered, or the development of findings of fact and a conclusion based on all testimony in the record.  Evidence which supports the issuance of a permit is cherry picked, while evidence which does not support the decision is ignored, instead of being examined and responded to.  The preponderance of the evidence is not established and permits are issued without sufficient justification.   The public is not well served when its ability to fully participate in a fair and open adjudicatory proceeding is denied.

8.      Maine’s wind power agenda was foisted upon a misinformed and uninvolved public.  The elimination of obstacles to wind power development was imposed upon the state by a zealous governor, John Baldacci, who wanted history to record his legacy as the “renewable energy” governor.  His predecessor, Senator  Angus King, an ex  wind power developer, has been roaming the state for several years giving inaccurate speeches about the benefits of wind power.  Describing Maine as, “the Saudi Arabia” of wind, and claiming that Maine would become uninhabitable without wind power replacing foreign oil, King’s widely reported self promoting PR campaign has softened the citizenry to passively accept wind turbines.  Baldacci named his chief of staff Kurt Adams to become Chairman of PUC, where he worked to implement the governor’s wind power agenda. Adams subsequently accepted stock options from First Wind while still employed by the state, and soon after resigned from public office to take employment with First Wind.  Such actions do not serve the citizens of the state but take advantage of position for personal gain.  Citizens should be the benefactors, not the victims, of public policy.

9.      Wind sprawl requires massive transmission upgrades.  Central Maine Power, a subsidiary of Spanish energy conglomerate Iberdrola, one of the world’s biggest wind project developers, received approval for the “MPRP” a $1.5 billion project.   Sold to the public as necessary for “reliability” to replace aging lines, the MPRP is in reality a massive infrastructure project to overbuild Maine’s transmission system to accommodate the haphazard release of energy from dozens of remote wind projects, which otherwise could not be connected.  The low capacity factors of wind projects means low utilization of the increased transmission capacity.  CMP/ Iberdrola is guaranteed a 13.8% return on this investment, which will cost CMP’s ratepayers about $10 million per year just to cover the ROI. 

10.   Maine’s RPS mandate of 20% of electricity to be supplied by renewables by 2020 will require a huge increase in the number of wind plants or Alternate Compliance Payments will be required.  In either case, the cost to Maine’s landscape or ratepayers will be unacceptable. Maine’s goal of 2700 MW of land based wind power and 300 MW of ocean wind power is less than half the total MW required to meet this mandate.  No other states in the ISO-NE have significant wind potential, or aggressive plans to exploit their ridges.   Public opposition to wind power is growing rapidly due to its negative impact on high value landscapes and quality of life.    In Maine, every wind project has been appealed or is involved in some sort of litigation with residents. .

Monique  Aniel and  Steve   Thurston

submitted  to  the  Office of  Energy Independence  and security  in  March 2012

Comment by larry sherman on May 21, 2013 at 3:16pm

I think the pendulum is clearly swinging back in our favor.  Lets hope it swings back quick enough to avoid the 50 five-hundred foot tall wind turbines already approved (but not yet built) for the Island Falls area that overlooks 2 pristine wilderness lakes.

Comment by Martha thacker on May 21, 2013 at 3:02pm

I cried when I read Naomi schalit and John Christie's article. They have been excellent journalists who care about the state of Maine , people and the environment. Always patient and willing to accept information  ...not just trasncribe for the wind farms...same goes for you Long Islander.

The loss of support seems to be going on world wide. Have noticed that First Wind used banks for their many loans which have been in the public eye for corruption. Don't know about the rest of them or if they can do business without the "gifts" for supporters. 

Comment by Long Islander on May 21, 2013 at 12:23pm

From another article on wind power:

"During the webinar, Justin Rolfe-Redding, a doctoral student from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, discussed ways for wind-energy proponents to get their message out to the public. Rolfe-Redding said that polling data showed that “after reading arguments for and against wind, wind lost support.” He went on to say that concerns about wind energy’s cost and its effect on property values “crowded out climate change” among those surveyed.

The most astounding thing to come out of Rolfe-Redding’s mouth — and yes, I heard him say it myself — was this: “The things people are educated about are a real deficit for us.” After the briefings on the pros and cons of wind, said Rolfe-Redding, “enthusiasm decreased for wind. That’s a troubling finding.” 

The rest is here:


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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