A recent opinion piece by Jonathan Carter (Aug. 11) in the Sun Journal got things very wrong on wind power, First Wind and the proposed Bingham project.
Despite its gross factual inaccuracies, the column failed to point out that wind power has meant a great deal to Maine communities, businesses and families over the past six years. Since 2007 hundreds of small Maine businesses have all served this growing industry and put hundreds of Mainers to work building in-state wind projects.
The wind projects that have been built will have lasting benefits for Maine by reducing our electricity rates, lowering host community property taxes, funding community projects and charitable causes, and supporting nature-based tourism businesses, ATV and snowmobile clubs, and conservation efforts.
Just as important as the benefits to our economy, First Wind’s five Maine wind projects are generating enough clean energy to power the equivalent of more than 90,000 Maine homes. That’s not fiction — it’s fact.
First Wind takes pride in the work we have done in Maine and in finding places to build wind projects that work in harmony with people, wildlife and the quality of place that every Mainer enjoys.
It is not always easy to strike that balance, but we believe that our Bingham project hits the mark.
The project’s turbines would be located on a low plateau that has been used for commercial timber harvesting for decades and has a network of heavy haul roads. This is not a wilderness area or national park; it is a working forest where existing uses like cutting timber, riding snow machines, hunting and fishing and enjoying the view are compatible with harvesting the wind. Environmental and visual studies show the project will have the least possible effect on both human and wildlife residents of the area.
Beyond the careful environmental measures undertaken, First Wind has entered into community benefit agreements with Bingham, Abbot, Parkman, Moscow and Kingsbury Plantation that would neighbor this project. Those communities would receive more than $6 million collectively in community benefits, with more than $2.5 million in tax revenues going to Somerset and Piscataquis counties, and another $1.2 million benefiting local outdoors organizations.
We’re proud Bingham Wind has earned the support of in the citizens of these communities — people have concluded for themselves that the project makes good sense. It will fit into the working forest, create construction and long term jobs, lower property taxes, and provide low cost clean energy for many years.
Dave Fowler is director of development for First Wind in Portland.