Wind power opponents say turbines not needed

RUMFORD — Those opposed to wind energy in western Maine have heard it all. They've been called tree huggers, hippies and fanatics, they said.

Their hope is that people can see through the hype and find the reality of what they are trying to present.

"What makes the sight of wind turbines on Maine mountains ugly is the economics," Chris O'Neil said Thursday. O'Neil is president of Friends of Maine Mountains, a group formed to oppose mountainside wind energy development in western Maine.

"Maine is being used for an inefficient energy source that doesn't even benefit the state," O'Neil said.

He spoke to the Sun Journal the same day his organization was sponsoring a lecture by John Droz at the University of Maine in Orono. Droz is a retired physicist who specializes in energy education and public policy.

"Some advertisements say wind energy is free,” Droz said. "Wind is certainly free, but generating electricity from wind is expensive and people need to be aware of these distinctions."

The main controversy surrounding wind farms is renewable energy certificates, O'Neil said. Maine law requires each electric utility company to purchase a certain percentage of RECs to prove that they are producing renewable energy.

Maine's goal is to have 10 percent of electricity come from new forms of renewable generation by 2017.

According to O'Neil, Maine wind-farm projects are using false advertisements to buy into these RECs and profit from federal money.

"Wind power is unnecessary, unsustainable, unaffordable and useless," O'Neil said.

O'Neil pointed out that Maine is already using hydropower as a renewable resource. About 26 percent of the state's renewable energy comes from hydropower, he said.

An email from the Friends of Maine Mountains says Maine has 4,300 megawatts of electricity generation capacity, though the state's population uses only 1,500 megawatts, on average.

"This electricity that is going into the grid is not needed in Maine. It's being sold to lower New England states like Massachusetts," O'Neil said. "We are sacrificing Maine mountains to trade and sell wind RECs when we already have a better source in hydropower."

Tom Carroll, project coordinator with Patriot Renewables LLC, which is building wind farms in Dixfield, Woodstock and Carthage, said technically, the electricity his projects are creating is being sold to an entity in Massachusetts.

"It all goes into the grid and gets distributed from there, though. So there is no way to really track who is using whose electricity," Carroll said.

Friends of Maine Mountains, along with Steve Thurston, a major partner in the anti-wind campaign, has also argued that the number of wind turbines needed to meet the demand of electricity and replace existing power plants would inundate our iconic mountain treasures.

Droz also said in his lecture that wind power is unpredictable. Electricity cannot be stored, even wind energy, and the demand for power isn't something that can wait for the wind to blow. Droz added that even with wind farms, the nation will still be reliant on sources of electricity that are constant, including burning fossil fuels.

"Wind as an efficient energy source for the country is a false advertisement," O'Neil said. "It isn't a sound investment for our state."

ecox@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Hart Daley's picture

Technically Speaking

Tom Carroll should have stated they are TRYING to build wind farms in Dixfield and Carthage. NO CONTRACTS have been signed and taxpayers have not AGREED to any project! Furthermore, TECHNICALLY speaking, the electricity IS BEING SOLD to a(note: un-named) entity in Mass?? Why are we sacrificing our land, ecosystem and scenic beauty to power MASS? Wake up people, we are being used.

Tom Carroll, project coordinator with Patriot Renewables LLC, which is building wind farms in Dixfield, Woodstock and Carthage, said technically, the electricity his projects are creating is being sold to an entity in Massachusetts.

Penny Gray's picture

Capacity factor

Wind has zero capacity factor.
Zero.
Which makes it absolutely useless.
If you don't know what capacity factor is, look it up.
If you don't know what capacity factor is, you shouldn't be stumping for industrial wind.

Alice Barnett's picture

capacity factor

there once was a nameplate capacity.
then there was 25% wind blows
now we know
no room on the GRID for WIND

Dan McKay's picture

I am no businessman, but I'd

I am no businessman, but I'd sure be more than reluctant to offer customers the electricity wind turbines produce. First of all, unless you are really, really close to my turbines and don't mind the extra cost I must charge, than I have to send my electricity into the transmission highway, which might or might not be set up to accommodate my intermittent nature. If they have to restructure for me, hopefully it's in time for me to operate, so I loose no generation time. That being good for me because you, the ratepayer pays for transmission restructuring, not me.
I am a little worried, no, hell, I'm very worried about those engineers who know how to design gas , hydro, and nuclear plants. Just like those fools in the auto industry, who put their heads together and designed more efficient automobile and truck engines, these electrical plant design engineers are designing more efficient conventional power plants, which means they will be producing cheaper electricity.
And on top of all this, Maine already produces an excess of electricity cheaper than I can offer. Please, Government, HELP ME.

Gary Steinberg's picture

Wind Fails , Again , and Again, Why Team with a LOSER?

WIND FAILS AS A GRID-SCALE SOURCE OF ELECTRICITY

Our compilation of Wind Facts concludes with a simple but poignant excerpt from John Droz: Wind Power – How We Got Here. Droz reminds us of how wind power fails almost every historical test for viability in grid-scale electricity generation:

The first practical use of electricity, in the late 1800s, is generally attributed to Thomas Edison (a founder of General Electric). Of course there were actually dozens of people who contributed to making commercial electricity a reality. And there were a LOT of formidable hurdles to overcome. One of the initial primary issues was: where was this electricity going to come from? For the first hundred years or so, there were six over-riding concerns about commercial electricity generators:
1 - could they provide large amounts of electricity?
2 - could they provide reliable and predictable electricity?
3 - could they provide dispatchable 1 electricity?
4 - could they service one or more of the grid demand elements 2?
5 - could their facility be compact 3?
6 - could they provide economical electricity?

1 Dispatchable means a source can generate higher or lower amounts of power on-demand,

Gary Steinberg's picture

Do Maine Businesses like the "Green Renewable RIP OFF?"

COSTS FOR ELECTRICITY IN MAINE

- Maine electric rates:

- In 1985 were only 9 % higher than the US average.

- In 1990, 20% higher.

- In 1995, 49% higher.

- In 2000, 52% higher.

- In 2007, 59% higher than US average.

Today we remain approximately 60% more expensive than the rest of the country.

Depending upon the category of customer, Maine’s electric rates range from #9 to #6 most expensive in the US. Many states (like Iowa) pay rates two and a half times lower than ours. If we ever do need more electricity in Maine, rather than wind, there are numerous ways to get more power which have far less impact and far greater benefit to our economy and environment.

This disparity in our electric bills is an annual penalty on Maine businesses and consumers of $700 million, equivalent to 25% of our state tax collections.

At about three million dollars per MW for wind projects complete with remote transmission connections, the capital costs for installing a wind generating facility are around three times more expensive than for conventional generating plants. For instance, a typical natural gas facility would incur capital costs of about one million dollars per MW.

The mid-sized 540 MW CalPine plant in Westbrook is an example of how Maine could generate 675 MW of electricity in one small industrial park rather than sprawling wind turbines over 360 miles of pristine and remote ridges. The fuel for the wind turbines is free, but all other aspects of windpower, including functional lifespan, are far more costly.

A recent power purchasing agreement between a Massachusetts utility and a wind power company will increase customers’ rates by an average $1.59 per month. That utility has 7 times the number of customers that our utility, Central Maine Power Company has, and that single contract calls for the utility to purchase merely half the power from one wind farm. This alarming rate impact from a tiny addition of purchased power shows the potential devastating impact of widespread wind purchases.

Gary Steinberg's picture

"Wind Mills, We Don't Need no Stinkin' Wind Mills!" HA! HA!

MAINE ELECTRICITY GENERATION TODAY

Maine has over 4200 megawatts of electric generating capacity, yet load (need) is only 1000 to 1500 MW. Maine is a net exporter of electricity. Our New England grid has over 30,000 MW of electric generating capacity. Average load is about 16,000 MW during the day, dropping to about 11,000 MW at night. Peak load has never exceeded 30,000 MW.

At 30% and escalating to 40%, Maine’s Renewable (electricity) Portfolio Standard is the highest in the nation.

Maine’s electric generation mix is already very green and it does not rely on imports from overseas. Over 90% of Maine’s generation is from biomass, hydro, and clean natural gas. By contrast, the state of Iowa gets over three quarters of its electricity from coal plants.

Given projections, there is no need for massive buildup of new electricity generation. The primary driver of electricity usage is population growth.

According to the census Bureau, Maine's population is projected to be only 4% higher in 2030.

New England is only projected at 6% and the Middle Atlantic Region is at 2.4%.

Gary Steinberg's picture

Wind Companies Are Open Liars

UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS FROM THE WIND INDUSTRY

The wind power industry does not cite any body of empirical evidence that wind power:
- reduces emissions
- reduces reliance on imports of fossil fuels
- enhances “energy independence”
- can be easily integrated into a grid system
- reduces electricity costs

Their claims of performance or benefits are based upon theoretical concepts which have failed to materialize into actual practice over more than two decades worldwide.

Gary Steinberg's picture

DO THE MATH

WIND POWER PROPOSED IN MAINE

- Maine’s statutory goal is 2700 megawatts of wind power on land

- As many as 1800 turbines, 400 feet tall

- 360 miles of developed wilderness ridges

- Thousands of new clearcuts for transmission corridors

- At a 25% capacity factor, this actually produces only 675 megawatts. This small amount of power could be produced at one medium-sized conventional natural gas power plant.
DO THE MATH, NOT THE POLITICS.
WIND POWER IS A SUBSIDIZED COSTLY FARCE!

Bob Woodbury's picture

You have all the answers.

Why are our rates so high?

Phil Blampied's picture

Windy anti-winders

Just to be clear: I am not necessarily in favor of wind turbines. But the anti-wind faction tends to discredit itself with exaggerated claims of the harm wind turbines can do. As for the question of whether wind is a viable business or not, that's not a matter for the voters to decide. The owners of the wind business will find out the hard way whether or not the business model makes sense. And the government subsidy is hardly worse than the oil depletion allowance or money handed to farmers, some of whom live in New York City, not to grow crops. What's really going on here? It's property values. The with quarter to half to whole million dollar properties with value based on location and view are defending their assets against the possibility that a wind turbine on a distant ridge might lower the value of their house from a million to $999,999. I don't see any residents of Cumberland Street joining the anti-winders in their screeches and screeds. Talk about class warfare.

Well said Phil

You have opened another way of looking at it. Class warfare. The only thing the anti winders might have feasibly correct in stating is why isn't only excess sold out of state and not used in Maine to help lower our electric bills. This is where the private land owners who are making money off leasing their lands for profit should assist their fellow residents and not just think of themselves. CMP can't even keep up with daily repairs that are needed and yet can make upgrades to powerlines to bring power to the out of staters. This is where my objections enter the picture. This is where town governments should be working with these landovers about. Work the deals for use for electric rate reductions for locals before making deals.

Alice Barnett's picture

out of state

why do we allow out of state corporations destroy ice-age eco-systems so thay can become richer?

Maine, we gain nothing.
We lose tourism and land values.
We fragment wildlife. We allow destroying of water tables.
Transmission lines running through our woods.
No more hunting and recreating near these Industrial turbines.

The list goes on for the negatives of BIG WIND.

Angus King and Rob Gardiner are rich Mainers. Why do we allow them to destroy our neck of the woods for Massachusetts air conditioning?

Governor is allowing natural gas to be the alternative until a real solution is found to power up earthlings.

Bob Woodbury's picture

How can electric rates in Maine...

...be lowered. Natural gas is definately NOT the answer.

GARY SAVARD's picture

I firmly believe wind power

I firmly believe wind power is a government subsidized scam being perpetrated on the general public. Once again, the average person in this country is being screwed by the crooks and thieves that run it and make millions off of our tax dollars.

Dan McKay's picture

Mr. Carroll's observation

Mr. Carroll's observation that electricity entering the grid is spread over a regional area is correct. A six state region, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. There is also interchanges with New York and Canada.
As a premium priced electricity , such as wind generated electricity, enters the grid, it's premium cost is spread over the region and eventually pass to the customers.
Think of wind as like going to the gas pumps where a mandate forces distributors to hold a certain percentage of regular unleaded gas and a certain percentage of premium gas, regardless of how customer demand would normally establish holding amounts. For those of you who exclusively purchase unleaded gas, you will have to buy premium because the percentage allocation mandate is out of whack with true demand and unleaded gas becomes used up before demand requirements are met, therefore premium gas is all there is to buy. It begins as sort of a nuisance, happening perhaps, once a month, and within the overall monthly gas purchase, the extra cost of having to buy the more expensive gas starts as a small percentage, but the mandate escalates this occurrence.
In our state, as well as several other states in the region, a mandate similar to this is in place for electrical supply. We, as customers, are subjected to this mandate. The premium costs of wind power, small percentage now, will increase with these mandates.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of how wind power will skyrocket electrical costs. You will need to understand how the unpredictable nature of wind power affects the overall grid and creates problems that require engineering solutions , adding to costs.
What you are not seeing, hearing or being reported is the events taking place to make wind power fit into the grid. Here's where the big costs will take place. Denmark says it's 20% wind. The electrical customers pay 35 cents per kilowatt and it's not going anywhere but up.
Now, why would people in Massachusetts buy wind power from Patriot Renewables originating in Maine ?

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