King tells Bethel chamber: Wind not exclusive solution to oil dependency

BETHEL — Harnessing wind power is only part of the effort to reduce Maine's dependence on oil, wind-power developer Angus King said Wednesday.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Former Gov. Angus King talks about the 22-turbine wind farm that he and business partner Rob Gardiner are constructing in Roxbury. King gave a presentation to the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce on the progress of wind power in Maine at a breakfast forum in Bethel on Wednesday.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Former Gov. Angus King prefaces his progress report on wind power in Maine with an overview of energy resources during his presentation to the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce in Bethel on Wednesday.

“Doing nothing is not the answer,” the former governor told 52 people at the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast forum at The Bethel Inn Resort. “It's a recipe for a real catastrophe.”

Of the energy used in Maine, 80 percent is gas and oil, King said, "not an ounce of which comes from within Maine, and that's dangerous.”

King said 70 percent of the homes in Maine are heated with oil. It's the highest percentage in the United States.

“We've built a whole infrastructure in this country — particularly in Maine — based on the premise of cheap oil,” he said.

Ten percent of the energy used in Maine is for electricity, 40 percent for heating and 50 percent for transportation, 99.9 percent of which is based on oil, he said.

“So when you talk about energy use and where we get our energy, you really have to talk about something other than electricity,” King said.

In 1970, a barrel of oil cost $3.39, he said. "A barrel, not a gallon,” he said.

The country built up an infrastructure of cars, trucks and buses, oil furnaces and oil burners based on the assumption that cheap oil would always be available, King said. "And that's not happening anymore."

Over the past 100 years, when a country's economic growth rises by 4 or 5 percent, its energy use rises by the same amount, King said. “So, when you read in the paper that China's economy grew last year by 9 percent, you should say, 'Uh-oh. That means their energy use went up by 9 percent.'”

“There's not enough oil on three planets to supply this level of energy to the rest of the world,” King said. “We have to find other ways to make it.”

He said, "It took millions of years to make all that oil. We're going to use it up in about 200, which, in terms of stewardship, I find kind of amazing.”

Eighty percent of Maine's energy comes from oil and zero percent of Maine's oil comes from Maine, he said. “So we're wholly dependent on a worldwide commodity we have no control over and no control over the price. For a problem of this magnitude, there is no no-impact solution."

Wind power is one such solution, he said, “But, it can never be a whole solution.”

Currently in Maine, King said, 195 wind turbines are either online and working or under construction.

He and business partner Rob Gardiner have 22 of those turbines in their Record Hill wind farm being built in Roxbury.

The 195 turbines, at 3 to 4 acres per turbine, he said, will produce 452 megawatts of capacity, which is enough to power 200,000 houses. In general, each turbine provides enough power for 1,000 houses, King said.

Projects range in size from 4.5 megawatts to Kibby's 132-megawatt farm in northern Franklin County.

The total investment is $946 million, of which $378 million is invested in Maine, he said. Each project has averaged about 240 jobs since 2003, using 300 Maine companies.

King gave an overview of the Roxbury wind project, addressing constant criticism from those who object to wind power.

“People talk about mountaintop destruction, but this isn't it,” he said, showing a slide of Virginia, where mountaintop removal mining is taking place.

“We don't want the mountain to be an inch shorter than it is.”

He said wind turbine blades spin about 4½ revolutions per minute and do make sound, but it isn't heard over long distances. He acknowledged that the wind industry initially underestimated sound values.

As for wildlife attrition rates, he said one bird per year per turbine has been killed in Maine.

“Your cat is more dangerous, and I'm not making that up,” he said, to laughter.

“(Wind is) a renewable resource that we have here in Maine. I've often wanted to dye the wind blue so people could see the huge river of energy flowing across the state.”

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 's picture

wind folly

Angus extolls the money spent on construction of the windsprawl, yet the same dollars could have been spent on fixing roads and bridges and the same people working on ruining the viewshed could be making the bridges safer. His refrain about mountaintop removal makes no sense. Has windsprawl slowed Virginia's mtn. top removal? No. The US is increasing coal exports to China, I suspect to make more wind turbines. How is that green? The coal lobby has more pull than the wind lobby so far, and there are no plans to reduce coal extraction.I wonder if Angus still owns a fuel guzzling motorhome? King is not fooling anyone. If he thinks he is , he is fooling himself.

Frank Heller's picture

Damn that Christie!

I disagree with Christie's fear mongering about 'hazardous' dams'; since it diverts the public's attention from the many hazards of bridges and roads exposed to excessive runoff from cleared 'impervious' surfaces, like the acres cleared for wind farm access roads and power lines; or that golf course in the watershed above the place where the bridges on Rt. 27 washed out.

Every time someone cuts a new road into the 'wilderness' new development is bound to follow. Wind farms not only make heavy rain runoff worse; but lay the groundwork for development at the base of the mountaintops they've cleared and run roads up. Even worse they've brought power up to the turbines, saving developers additional money in providing power to a site.

So not only do wind farms add to the flood waters overwhelming aged bridges and roads; but they make development at the base of hills possible. Wonderful!

I should also point out the dams held; while the bridges didn' where is the real hazard?

All someone has to do is Google earth the watershed above the Rt. 27 bridges to see how extensive the clear cuts for the thousands--one large development had 400 lots covering a mountain, nearly all unsold!; of vacation houses are and then the paved roads, driveways and roofs for the ones now built to see why so much water now flows OFF the watershed than a decade ago.

Making matters worse, upstream from a washout on Rt. 27 is an 18 hole golf course; all cleared and graded and designed to shed water from saturated greens. Wonderful!

While dams may be listed as hazardous by the Army Corps of Engineers and in turn the Emergency Management office; it does not appear to be an overwhelming amount of work to take an entire week to inspect them. During the two year period for the those with the highest rating, about 100 could be inspected; approx double the number on the list now!

Many of the dams are owned by municipalities and private organizations who have hired engineers to check the status of their dams....which probably accounts for why so few have been breached. There are many which are over 100 years old; and some older made of logs and earth. In Ireland, one was uncovered by archeologists who had it inspected and found to be still good, so they covered it back up. It was originally constructed in the 1400's and is still good.

This problem is excessive runoff from development in LURC controlled land and watershed straddling several municipalities. The current bridges and culverts can't handle the load; nor can many roads which line the banks, let alone the commercial and residential development.

Time for Christie and others to do some real investigative journalism and leave the fear mongering to the MSM.

 's picture

King is a hypocrite

I see that the perpetually self serving, manipulative, ego driven, and greedy Mr. King is at it again. This time, sharing his silver tongued mis-truths to the Bethel Chamber. The gall of the man, who just 25 miles away is responsible for blasting away, leveling, and destruction of three mountains in Roxbury, to spin his advocacy of the wind power farce in Bethel. But King is a hypocrite. He never missed a photo opp or sound bite to extoll the beauty of Maine and its unique natural resources while he was Governor. Go back and read what he said about protecting the natural treasures of Maine. Now he advocates surrounding those natural treasures with devastated mountains sprouting 400+ feet tall wind machines that are costly, marginally productive, and environmentally worse than the fossil fuel King denigrates ad nauseum.
His Record Hill Wind project in Roxbury impacts on the viewshed of Tumbledown and Mahoosuc Public Reserved Lands (bought with taxpayer LMF bonds), the Appalachian Trail, the Rumford Whitecap Preserve of the Mahoosuc Land Trust. Meanwhile, aside from the mill in Rumford, the leading economic force in this part of Maine is tourism. Follow King's greedy quest to reap taxpayer subsidies and profit from Enron-inspired REC sales and it will destroy tourism. Hopefully, better wisdom will prevail in the area and there will be a strong move to protect the natural resources and beauty that is such a draw to Bethel. Stop the proliferation of industrial wind sites now!

 's picture

“We've built a whole

“We've built a whole infrastructure in this country — particularly in Maine — based on the premise of cheap oil,” he said.

Scratch that OIL and replace with WIND?

“People talk about mountaintop destruction, but this isn't it,” he said, showing a slide of Virginia, where mountaintop removal mining is taking place.“We don't want the mountain to be an inch shorter than it is.”

Check out Mars Hill Destruction on Maine Wind Concerns FACEBOOK.

 's picture

WIND keeps changing the

WIND keeps changing the numbers.

one turbine = 1000 homes is false....

2MW turbine = -75% does not blow = .5 MW
.50 MW - 10-30% loss in transmission = -MW

WIND has NO Capacity.

Yet the turbines require a "parasitic" draw 24/7 from the GRID.

Three years into the crisis and with two more likely ahead, it appears governments still believe they’ll be able to lie their way out of this hole.

For over a decade policymakers have led us to believe that a green revolution led by renewable energy is required to improve energy security, to cut energy spending, and to avert global warming.

Policymakers not only mislead us about the green revolution, but also investors. Billions went into wind, solar, and other renewable sources with the promise of secure, fixed income until the technologies could compete with fossil fuels.

 's picture

When was the last time your

When was the last time your cat dragged a golden eagle through the door? American Bird Conservancy is currently compiling statistics on bird kills at turbine sites, no easy task when the wind developers are the ones charged with documenting these kills.

Iberdrola, the huge Spanish company that now owns CMP, is tickled pink with our governments renewable energy mandates and rich subsidies. Iberdrola's push for industrial wind in Spain raised energy costs by 300% and drove businesses and jobs out, bankrupting the country. When Spain's renewable subsidies ran out, Iberdrola looked to the United States, a country that willingly subsidizes foreign companies getting in on the "renewables" rush. Beware the promises of cheap power from renewables. Wind might blow free, but the infrastructure required to turn that wind into grid scale electricity is staggeringly expensive, and wind has zero capacity factor. It cannot provide base load electrical power and certainly can't heat our homes and businesses.

And it is far more destructive than a house cat.

Frank Heller's picture

Wind farm foot prints and flood damage

One of the emerging lessons from the floods that ravaged the North East; and especially the destruction of sections of Rt. 27; is that facilitating runoff by creating more impervious surfaces is a contributing factor.

The watershed where the bridges washed out on Rt. 27 is full of 'second' homes, hundreds of cleared home sites, miles of graveled access roads, paved driveways and roofs, and acres of golf courses and ski slopes.

Do we need to make the problem even worse by clearing even more land for wind farms, their access roads, and power lines; when there are other less damaging alternatives to producing electricity?

By revitalizing and expanding the hydro power infrastructure in Maine we can generate ample power round the clock with a much smaller footprint and with proper design, mitigate the impact of hundred year rain events.

Better to have a system of managed flood control impounds than a really 'wild' river that sends tons of debris into roads, culverts and bridges!

Better to have a system of managed ponds and lakes created by these impounds to retain fish and other aquatic populations who would be washed out to sea or destroyed!

Write or call KEN FLETCHER of the Maine Energy Policy Office to voice your support for the emerging consensus on the role small hydro restoration has in preventing storm damage and providing inexpensive, localized energy generation.


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