Protesters greet wind company open house

HIGHLAND PLANTATION — Protesters carrying signs gathered outside the fire station over the weekend as developers of a proposed wind power project welcomed visitors inside for a presentation.

Valerie Tucker photo

Highland Plantation residents marched outside their fire station Saturday to protest a proposed Somerset County wind farm on the ridge lines of Stewart, Witham and Bald mountains, and Briggs and Burnt hills.

Former Maine Gov. Angus King and his business partner, Robert Gardiner,  greeted visitors to Saturday's open house.

King said Maine used to have high electrical power costs, but it's now the lowest in New England. Other parts of the country produce electricity more cheaply, but the environmental costs are higher, he said.

"Maine doesn't use coal or natural gas to produce electricity," he said. "We aren't producing air pollution with wind energy."

King and Gardiner are principals of Independence Wind LLC and formed a subsidiary company, Highland Wind LLC, which owns the project. Bayroot LLC owns the land and hired Wagner Forest Management to take care of the property.

Nearly two years ago, Highland Wind applied for a permit to erect 48 wind turbines, build access roads, put up collector line, a substation, and an operations and maintenance building. The proposed Somerset County project would be on the ridge lines of Stewart, Witham and Bald mountains, and Briggs and Burnt hills.

Protesters trying to stop the projects said they are concerned about more than simply not-in-my-backyard factors. They are angry about permanently ruining the views near the Bigelow Mountains and the Appalachian Trail.

The wind farm project investors and partners receive tax breaks and federal energy grants, but most Maine taxpayers and ratepayers won't see any benefits, environmental engineer and Phillips resident Nancy O'Toole said.

"The key thing now is that the numbers on the amount of electricity that's generated by these turbines isn't what they said it would be, but our tax money is going to subsidize these projects," O'Toole said.

Friends of the Highland Mountains protester Jennifer Perkins stood with her sign in the brisk wind. She grew up in Norridgewock and lives in nearby Anson. Her family has had property in the area for many years, and she is worried about the effects of such a large project on environmental quality.

"This is not an industrialized area," she said. "The change in the way of life up here would be enormous."

She shared the concern that residents in other parts of the state weren't as supportive, because they wouldn't have to see or hear the turbines.

The Land Use Regulation Commission, which decides the fate of such projects in the unorganized territories, has asked that the wind project be reduced in size. The permit review will continue, with several opportunities for the public to comment.

King and Gardiner bring considerable resources and experience to the project. Gardiner was president of the Maine Public Broadcasting Corp., director for the Maine Advocacy Center for the Conservation Law Foundation, and director of Maine's Bureau of Public Lands. He also served as chairman of the National Wildlife Federation, vice chairman of the National Public Broadcasting Service, and as a board member of Central Maine Power Co.

King provides counsel to the Portland-based Bernstein Shur law firm. He also created and operated Northeast Energy Management Inc., a developer of major electrical energy conservation projects in south central Maine and was chief counsel to Swift River Hafslund Co., which developed hydropower and biomass projects throughout New England.

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Comments

 's picture

Protesting Mountaintop Industrial Wind

Hi Queenhoneebee.

I was impressed by what you wrote under your profile, and admire you for wanting to participate in discussions free from personal attacks and some of the other misbehavior which is sometimes present on these forums. That's why I was surprised by your 'wasting time and spitting on their children's futures' comment.

I assure you that by participating in Saturday's protest, those Mainers were doing just the opposite: they were--WE were-- doing our best to PROTECT our children's futures.

I encourage you to do just what you admonished us to do, and research the issue of mountaintop industrial wind. I have no doubt you will be shocked by what you learn, as I was-- and as I continue to be, as new information is discovered daily. I was once in favor of wind energy-- until I truly learned the facts.

I have been reading, listening and learning about this topic for a year. I have spoken to soils scientists, wildlife biologists, environmental engineers, a physicist, acoustics engineers, economists and doctors, as well as Mainers living in the shadow of industrial wind in Freedom, Vinalhaven, Stetson and Mars Hill. When one has the opportunity to listen to the facts from unbiased experts, and the eye- and ear- witness testimony of those on the ground, one's perspective changes. Most citizens have only been exposed to the rhetoric and tag lines, to the hype about 'wind' saving the planet from global warming and 'wind getting us off foreign oil', and that is what they believe. But please don't believe everything told you by the wind industry and the current administration. They have a massive 'stake' in the game, and it comes in the form of your tax dollars, and mine. Wind energy is NOT the panacea they would have us believe it to be.

I would be happy to provide you with information regarding industrial wind, accumulated over the past several months, or send you contact information and links to experts in various fields who are standing up in opposition to this mis-guided plan. Please don't dismiss ordinary citizens who are doing everything within our limited power--and within the legal limits set by our Constitution--to 'have a say' as we attempt to do what we truly believe to be the RIGHT thing to do.

The facts will blow you away. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Respectfully,
Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., Maine
highlandmts@gmail.com

 's picture

nothing brings out the loonies

like threatining to put up a wind mill.

 's picture

protesters for wind energy?

protesters for wind energy? but none for the more crucial events going on around us? they are wasting time and spitting on their children's futures... read, learn, educate yourselves before making arses out of your yourself. this is prob one of my most mean comments ever but seriously i've had it with ignorance.

 's picture

protesters for wind energy?

protesters for wind energy? but none for the more crucial events going on around us? they are wasting time and spitting on their children's futures... read, learn, educate yourselves before making arses out of your yourself. this is prob one of my most mean comments ever but seriously i've had it with ignorance.

 's picture

Two nauseating money grubbers

This is nothing about helping Maine with clean electricity. That is a crock that they use to justify their crimes against the natural environment of Maine so that they can greedily stuff their pockets. Almost none of the small amount of wind electricity actually gets integrated in the grid in a way that causes less fossil fuel to be burnt. Meanwhile King incessantly talks about his wind project getting Maine off mideast oil when in fact we don't use oil to make our electricity.

Clearly, both King and Gardiner calculated that the lowly populace was stupid and that this would be like taking candy from a baby.

Wrong.

 's picture

We are being invaded by big wind!

Indeed, there will be no place to get away from all these projects. My home & all my favorite places will be surounded by wind turbines if all the proposed projects get built & like many Mainers, we will get NO benefit & NO say, because we do not live in a "host town". Even if we did, the cost is still much too high. Its very frustrating to have to let LURC decide our fate. Big wind is going to have a huge negetive impact on our State! It will change Maine forever. Big wind must be stopped!

 's picture

king and Gardiner

What do all these credos of theirs mean? They live lifes in 4 walls and process numbers, dollar bills.
Do they have experience as a rural mainer?
Do they wake up to the sun and see these western mountain views?

We, the workers, provide the money via future taxes.
These wind companies are investing nothing in your community, you are.

They are LLC s buying mountainstops, expediting roads and passage ways for energy.
20 years from now these companies own mansions on our mountaintops.
They view other mansions. They own our water, our air and our land.

Record for your children how the mountaintops instill awe. How we once saw wild animals.

Quoting a native american friend. THis is genocide to animals.

A nimby living off the grid.

 's picture

EnronMaine

I wish a protester would smash a pie in Angus's and Rob's faces like what happened to Jeff Skilling while he was spinning his lies at a presentation. Stealing money from people and abusing the laws for Enron is no worse than the exaggerations and tax dollar robbing by the wind industry. The Maine scenery will never recover if these greed merchants are not stopped . Their "megawatt laundering" is designed to make them very rich when the grid is all complete. The C02 savings are not provable. How many lbs. of C02 are emitted to build 1 turbine and mast? Almost 6 million? That does not even count the C02 for the transmission lines or the fuel to deliver the turbine components from Brazil and China to Maine. What a con to call these green. Play by your own rules was the Enron theme. It didn't matter if it was right or wrong. These guys feel entitled. Any disagreement only steels their resolve. We need Hydro Quebec to give some competition and then we get to keep our mtns. and views from the lakes too. There is no reason to pepper Maine with 50 ugly projects like Mars Hill or Stetson. There will be no place to go to get away from them!

 's picture

Maine can learn a lot from Denmark.

Maine can learn a lot from Denmark. The Danes are the world leaders in wind power, the inventors of the wind farm and the home of Vestas, the number one manufacturer of wind turbines. The Danes have more turbines per capita than anywhere else in the world. While some say the turbines produce 17% of the total energy the Danes use, it turns out that the sporadic and volatile nature of wind energy is very hard to use. Much of it is sold to Germany, Norway and Sweden at huge losses.

Where the Danes go, the world of wind power follows. The Danes made big news recently because of two major decisions. They first slashed subsidies to the wind industry. Second, they banned all new land based wind farms due to public anger over noise and loss of property values near turbines.

It doesn’t matter whether the Highland project is 48 turbines or 28 or 10. It is still a useless project, designed to make a few wind companies and rich people like King and Gardiner richer still on our tax dollars, while destroying Maine’s pristine wilderness and the lives of people in the area.

Mine should not be a “wind colony” for Southern New England.

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