Industrial wind project not right for Saddleback Ridge

On March 10, the Department of Environmental Protection will conduct a public meeting on the proposed 12-turbine industrial wind project for Saddleback Ridge in Carthage.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s public meeting on the proposed 12-turbine industrial wind project for Saddleback Ridge in Carthage will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at Dirigo High School in Dixfield.

The project, proposed by Massachusetts-based developer Patriot Renewables, involves the construction of the 12 turbines along Saddleback Ridge and will be approximately 5 miles from the popular Mt. Blue State Park.

Five miles is not a long distance visually, especially when the bright white, gyrating structures, complete with flashing red strobe lights, are nearly 425 feet tall.

The compromised views from the Webb Lake beach area and atop the popular Mount Blue, Little Jackson, Tumbledown and Bald mountains will earn Maine the enmity of the thousands of park visitors and recreational and expert mountaineers who regularly visit the four-season hiking trails.

The sacrifice of this treasured place hardly seems a fair and equitable trade-off for the construction of a $60,000 “playground” at Mt. Blue State Park, as promised by the developers.

This inequity becomes particularly apparent when one quantifies how very little the wind turbines will do for Maine; these proposed 12 turbines would add only about 10 actual megawatts of power to the 33,000-megawatt grid.

Advocates for the proliferation of industrial wind turbines across Maine’s mountain ridges cite many reasons for their championing of this dubious energy source. They justify the thousands of acres of clear-cutting, the hundreds of miles of heavy-duty roadbeds and the millions of tons of blasted mountaintops with misguided claims about the benefits of wind-generated electricity.

They claim that wind-generated electricity will “get us off of oil.” It will not. Less than 2 percent of the electricity in Maine and in the U.S. comes from oil-fired generators.

They claim wind will create hundreds of “green jobs.”

Wind developments create very few permanent jobs. Wind projects produce mostly temporary construction jobs lasting less than six months. Construction jobs are always welcome, but publicly funded construction jobs should produce necessary and useful projects, like roads, bridges and critical infrastructure.

In fact, state mandates to purchase higher-priced wind-generated electricity will lead to fewer jobs in Maine as businesses and residents leave the state for areas with lower-cost electricity.

They claim we need the electricity. The reality is that there is no shortage of electricity. Maine currently has 4,300 megawatts of electricity generation capacity, though residents use around 1,500 megawatts on average.

The experts forecast less than 1 percent annual growth in grid demand for the next decade. No urgent need exists to sacrifice Maine’s unique resources to produce a small amount of surplus electricity.

The industrial wind lobby makes claims about the potential for low-cost electricity from wind. Wind-generated electricity will not guarantee lower electricity rates. Wind industry officials themselves often state that they cannot compete with low-cost conventional electricity, which is forecast to remain inexpensive and stable for years to come.

It is disturbing that a handful of prominent environmental groups that have historically defended these wilderness areas and high mountain peaks, notably the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Maine Audubon, are complicit in this irresponsible destruction of Maine’s landscape by making deals with wind developers seeking approval for their projects.

Their support for wind power uses the rationale that wind will reduce oil use, carbon dioxide emissions, and electricity costs. However, the evidence does not confirm any of the above.

Try for a moment to imagine the cumulative impact on Maine’s landscape of thousands of 450-foot-tall, bright-white turbines, each with a bright-red flashing strobe light blinking on every clear, dark night.

Imagine the cumulative impact on the views that so many people moved here to be near, that so many come to enjoy, that countless generations of native Mainers have studiously protected.

Then remember a time when Maine could boast about our quality of place.

Rand Stowell lives in Weld and is president of Friends of Maine’s Mountains.

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 's picture

geothermal in hawaii

thank you Dr. Dosh, I hear there is a windfarm graveyard on your island. is this true?
You folks looked and found alternatives. I am hoping Mainers find an alternative to wind power.
But as Rand says, Maine does not need more power.
So, tax payers buy the farm
Massachusetts gets the power.
Everyones electrical rates go up.
Not good business or environmental sense.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Industrial wind project not right for Saddleback Ridge

Rand , 11.03.06 21:40 HST •
This is a very thoughtful letter yet many of us have been fighting this battle within the confines of this very newspaper for > 5 years now . The arguments have not changed one iota . It seems that you may be a dollar short and a day late . it's been done before , even in ME
Yet we are not from Maine and have no real say in the matter . We only have a geothermal power plant situated directly in our backyard and rather like the thing and what it gives all of us : ? 1 5 % of our State's electrical production capacity
h t h , Aloha from Pahoa /s, Dr. Dosh and ohana :)

 's picture

Well said, Mr. Stowell

The wind turbine invasion will undoubtedly come to be seen as the worst mistake in Maine's history unless immediate steps are taken to stop it. Saddleback is just one of dozens of projects announced for the western mountains.

Turbines are planned for Roxbury, Byron, Rumford, Dixfield, Canton, Woodstock, Temple, Sumner, Buckfield, Newry, Bethel, Reddington, Sisk Mountain, Highland Plantation, Bingham, Lexington, Moscow. The state is under seige by the wind industry, thanks to former governor Baldacci and his genuflecting legislature. The current administration and newly elected legislature are well positioned to listen to the valid arguments of wind power opponents.

Citizens must make themselves heard over the din of wind power's false prophets - the power brokers who have masterminded this fiasco - Angus King being a prime example. Likewise, NRCM has abandoned its mission to protect Maine's environment and now talks illogically and hypocritically about supporting the wind industry while safeguarding Maine's "Quality of Place". NRCM, you can't have it both ways.

Alan Woods's picture

It's not just the western mountains!

It's also happening up in the County and Downeast. First Wind has already destroyed the Lincoln Lakes Region. They recently applied for a project in T16 MD (next to Eastbrook) that will be visible from Mt. Desert Island. They've also applied for a huge project at the headwaters of the Downeast Lakes area. This area includes more Class 1A and 1B lakes than any other part of Maine! It also has Maine's greatest concentration of professional guides. Sited in on Bowers Mountain in Carroll and Dill Hill in Kossuth, it will seriously destroy the local outdoor recreation-based economy.

We've got to stop thinking in the near-term. In the long term, these projects are going to destroy Maine's #2 industry: tourism. Wake up everyone!

 's picture

Couldn't agree more

Wind projects on mountain ridges is not environmentally friendly. This is not GREEN. It's about quick cash. Wake up, people.

 's picture

The risks of this wind thing

The risks of this wind thing is becoming so apparent now. King and Gardiner desperately seeking the last avenue of funding available, a government loan guarantee, to save their Roxbury project.
Investors continue to shy away from wind, electing safer, long term and proven investments.
Grid operators exclaiming they are not prepared to accommodate wind and it will take mega-dollars from the ratepayer for required provisions.
Bribery from developers as more people are taking notice of the bad idea of wind.
Any town with notions of attaching town service investment to this wind investment had better start thinking " RISKS' The economic welfare of the community is at stake.
I would recommend each and every town appoint a committee to thoughtfully examine the potential economic risks with these projects. During this economic downturn is not the time to have a " bubble " bursting in our faces.

 's picture

36,000 wind turbines in place

36,000 wind turbines in place across America, and the current price of gasoline is ?


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