Local Letters to the Editor

First Wind’s rampage in Maine

To the Editor:
    First Wind of Boston is now proposing for the western mountains the largest industrial wind project to date. It will stretch over 25 miles from Bingham to Parkman. The sixty-four 500 ft. turbines First Wind plans for this remote stretch of the Maine Woods will be highly intrusive and visible to large sections of the Appalachian Trail from the Bigelow Preserve to Katahdin, including the wildest section of the Appalachian Trail known as the “100 mile wilderness.” The project area is also designated as critical habitat needed for the Atlantic salmon restoration efforts. This project will destroy the vegetation along the banks of 34 perennial streams critical for salmon recovery.

    Mainers are being taken to the cleaner by First Wind of Boston. These industrial wind “pig farms” are ruining the “wild” brand that defines Maine and attracts tourists, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
    First Wind’s application to the Maine DEP states that “the purpose of the project is to create a commercially viable low impact wind energy project.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.
    It is common knowledge that mountaintop industrial wind is not “commercially feasible.” The subsidies from local (TIFs), state (Pine Tree Zones), and federal (Production Tax Credits) governments are the only reason industrial wind projects are economically viable. Not only are taxpayers subsidizing First Wind, but consumers are paying more for electricity due to the high cost of this energy. When these subsidies stop, the wind corporations will disappear, leaving behind a severely impoverished industrialized landscape. It is a scam being perpetrated on the people of Maine by wind lobbyists and a few “environmental” groups who refuse to get their heads out of the sand and to stop taking the “donations” the wind corporations enjoy passing out.
    First Wind of Boston likes to proclaim the Bingham Project as having a capacity of 191 MW — sounds pretty impressive, but this also is a just a remarkable spin job. The turbines will only produce power when the wind is blowing – so the actual power generation will be about 22 percent of capacity or about 42 MW. If you subtract a 20 percent curtailment factor (which is First Wind’s number — I suspect it is a lot higher), the 9 percent transmission loss, and the 30 percent spinning reserve dumping — the final amount available is only about 21 MW. Would you buy a furnace that is only 11 percent efficient?
    The application also states that a “wind power project like Bingham Wind Project address” … ”greenhouse gases impact on the environment and the health of Maine citizens.” This is also not a truthful statement.
    Every scientific study I have been able to review comes to exactly the opposite conclusion. Because wind is intermittent, it is necessary to ramp up and down fossil fuel plants (which is totally inefficient) to accommodate the intermittency. This results in greater fuel consumption and more greenhouse gases. It is like driving in stop-and-go traffic.
    When the greenhouse gasses generated by construction, the consumption of large amounts of power needed to run the turbines (power not from the turbines), the thousands of gallons of regularly changed lubricants, the destructive mining of rare earth metals in Mongolia, the shipment of turbines, the plastics used in the composites — this so called “clean energy” is pretty darn dirty. Add to this, the loss of forest carbon sequestration due to the clearcutting of forests for turbine pads, roads, and power lines, and mountaintop industrial wind doesn’t look so green.
    Finally, as far as First Wind’s claims that the Bingham Wind project is in the best interest of the “health of Maine citizens.” What about the Mainers who have had to move out of their homes because of noise pollution or the pernicious impact of infrasound — a sound often used as a torture technique around the world? Mainers are now being treated with anti-depressants, blood pressure, and insomnia medications as a direct result of industrial wind turbines.
    One thing that I have learned over the last five years studying mountaintop industrial wind — and it was a hard fact to face — is that just because something is renewable doesn’t make it de facto clean and green. First Wind is leaching taxpayer money to build turbines which are dividing communities, blasting off mountaintops, clearcutting forests, killing birds and bats, forcing people out of their homes, negatively impacting the health of Mainers, and destroying the visual beauty of wild Maine.
    It is truly a sad day for Maine, if First Wind’s rampage of trashing Maine is allowed to continue.

Jonathan Carter, director
Forest Ecology Network

Informed decision-
making and RBOs

To the Editor:
    Residents of Sangerville will soon have the opportunity to attend public hearings regarding the upcoming vote on whether or not our town should adopt a “Rights Based Ordinance” (RBO). There are many types of RBOs being developed across the country in small towns such as ours as well as those being proposed in some cities. These “Rights Based” ordinances are being encouraged by local, well-meaning activist groups (some are better organized than others), intending to prevent corporations from doing “harm” to the local municipality and surrounding environment.
    Many of these RBO initiatives are being coordinated and encouraged by an organization from Pennsylvania called the Community Environmental Defense Fund (CELDF). Formerly a public interest law firm serving community-based conservation organizations, they now focus their efforts on grassroots organizing in communities across the U.S. Their mission statement or goal is to organize activist groups in municipalities facing perceived large corporate threats to the environment (and thus people’s health, safety and welfare) creating RBOs in the hopes that these locally developed and enacted ordinances will prevent/stop these corporate activities. Their intent is to intentionally provoke lawsuits against our municipality for having enacted ordinances that have no legal standing in our courts. Their hope is to turn public opinion against our present system of governance. Ultimately they wish to force changes to our state and federal constitutions.
    As anyone may guess there are costs to fighting lawsuits in today’s courts. Many times the failure to win a suit results in fines as well as paying the opponent’s court and legal fees, including depositions and perhaps loss of insurance coverage for having enacted potentially illegal regulations that ignore state and federal laws. There are countless examples of ill-advised Rights Based ordinances encouraged and even written by CELDF organizers across the country. Many have been overturned in court to the detriment and expense of local communities.
    The proposed RBO for Sangerville was originally intended to stop the East-West corridor as well as windmills, so I’ve been informed. However, it is my opinion that the final draft of this document goes far beyond those intentions and will severely hamper/harm our future as a community as we move forward. I am not an expert in this matter nor am I a jurist benefiting from these types of legal activities. I am, however, interested in becoming an informed decision-maker prior to becoming an uninformed or misinformed resident voter on Sept. 18. That is when the town of Sangerville will be holding a special town meeting to say yea or nay to this proposed Rights Based Ordinance.
    I would encourage all of my fellow residents to do some research on RBOs and this activist organization CELDF. Google them. Pick up your own copy of the proposed RBO at the town hall. Read it. Analyze the document and attend the public hearing on Sept. 4 and ask your own informed questions and really listen to the answers provided.
    Making informed decisions is a right and a privilege granted by our state and federal constitutions. Exercising that right empowers us to choose wisely.

Irving McNaughton

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