Peru learns about balancing act for wind

PERU — The town Wind Ordinance Committee learned about balancing the good with the bad on wind energy developments at Wednesday night's meeting.

Erin Cox/Sun Journal

Kevin Benedict, left, of Peru discusses ideas on lessening scenic and recreational impact from wind turbines with Dylan Voorhees, center, clean energy project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. The discussion took place at Peru's Wind Ordinance Committee meeting Wednesday night.

Dylan Voorhees, clean energy project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, presented information and the organization's stance on wind farms in Maine to the committee.

NRCM in Augusta is a nonprofit organization that strives to protect, restore and conserve Maine's environment.

Voorhees said one of the organization's big goals is to limit the use of fossil fuels being used for electricity.

He said a 2010 study showed approximately 37 percent of Maine's electricity comes from natural gas which is pumped in from out of state. He also said that hydro-power, which fluctuates considerably, varies anywhere from 10 to 20 percent.

"We are sending money out of state every time we fill up our tanks with gas and every time we flip on the light switch," he said.

Finding new sources of renewable electricity is an important part of the long-term goal of the organization, Voorhees said.

"Wind power is a significant part of the solution but not the only thing," he said. "We need to make sure it is done well and done right. It's a balancing act."

Committee member Warren MacFawn asked Voorhees how many wind projects his organization would like to see in the state.

Voorhees said his group was supportive of the state's wind task force goal of 2,000 megawatts worth of projects in Maine by 2015. He said his group has supported some projects and been against others.

One of the projects the group did not support was the Kibby II project near the Chain of Ponds and Kibby Township. Voorhees said there were various reasons the group did not back the project, but one of the major factors was the scenic impact.

Kevin Benedict of Peru questioned protecting the pristine area that he has grown to love since moving to Maine and how the state and organization works to protect the scenic views.

Voorhees mentioned state laws through the Department of Environmental Protection help safeguard scenic and recreational resources. However, a list already exists that legally defines what areas in Maine, such as the Appalachian Trail, are to be protected through that law, Voorhees said.

Voorhees advised the committee to look into what resources, not present on the list, that the town wants to protect when creating the ordinance.

He also urged the committee to look toward other towns that have created good ordinances to protect and benefit the residents, including Oakfield, which is in the permitting process with First Wind to create a 120-megawatt facility.

The committee also discussed with Voorhees aspects of tangible benefits. Benedict mentioned having a wind project be required to purchase or create a conservation area or land trust to help lessen the scenic and recreational impact on a town.

Voorhees said that was one of the best options that his organization would love to see.

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Mike DiCenso's picture

bad wind blowing

Peru must beware of Mr. Voorhees. He claims windsprawl is clean and green, but he NEVER mentions that the RECs supplied by the wind turbines are used to keep the coal fired power plants burning at out of compliance levels. Instead of adding scrubbers or new technology to reduce emissions, the coal plants simply purchase RECs and continue to increase their pollution. How can the NRCM continue to support this? Why did the NRCM remain "neutral" on the Bowers project after being obviously not in favor of it? How can Dylan support the Oakfield project when the turbines are too close to 1A and B lakes in Island Falls? The 1A and B ratings mean the lakes have state and national significance. The NRCM should be giving the thumbs down to the Oakfield and Bowers projects.Their credibility and usefulness is in question. Why does the state need an agency which is not doing its job? The NRCM is ignoring the fact that coal stoves for home use is expanding. People cannot afford elec. heating and will look for affordable means to stay warm. As the windsprawl drives the energy prices up , we can expect the sale of coal to increase dramatically while the NRCM fiddles away shining up to the wind cabal. Hey Dylan, how much C02 is released to mine the rare earth metals? How much to smelt, manufacture and ship those heavy turbines and parts, then finally erect them? Then add the copper wire, etc. No wonder the C02 emissions rose by 5.9% for 2010 and will rise more for 2011. I hope Peru will sign on to the growing list of towns who have strong zoning to protect their citizens from out of state greed. PS 2 friends have tried to list their camps with a local real estate agent and were turned down. The reason? There are turbines across the lake and NOBODY WILL BUY with that for a view!!!!

Brad Blake's picture

NRCM wants Too Many Wind Sites

First, if Dylan Voorhees felt it was necessary to meet with Peru's Ordinance Committee, he and NRCM must be very concerned about the movement of towns to control the development of sprawling industrial wind projects. To be fair, since the Peru committee met with Voorhees, they should also meet with a representative of the Citizens' Task Force on Wind Power or Friends of Maine's Mountains to get the non-"greenwashed" perspective from a life-time Mainer.

Voorhees stated that NRCM is supportive of the state's goal, which is 2700 MW of installed capacity on-shore by 2020. Based on my knowledge of the 60 MW Rollins project in Lincoln, a prime example of a mid-size industrial wind site, the 7 miles of ridges destroyed at Rollins, the 1,000 acres of permanent clearcutting of carbon-sequestering forest, and 20 miles of new powerlines, here's how that would project out: There would be about 45 more industrial wind sites, destroying 350 miles of Maine's mountains and ridges; 50,000+ acres of permanent clearcuts; 1,000+ miles of new powerlines. The Rollins turbines are 389 feet tall and most recent proposals include larger turbines with heights of 435 to 485 feet tall---compared to the tallest building in Maine, Franklin Towers in Portland at 202 feet. Rollins was an easy site to develop with low ridges and few steep slopes and not a lot of granite ledge. The footprint of larger projects and projects on higher mountains will be far greater. This is a terrible toll to take on our state's natural resources, beauty, and quality of life.

Here's the rub for me. The developers will invest more than $5 billion dollars to develop these sites, knowing that most of the cost is covered by US Taxpayers. They end up with, at best, 25% capacity, or 675 MW of unpredictable, unreliable power that Maine doesn't even need! One gas fired plant like the Calpine generator in Westbrook could be built on less than 100 acres for about a half a billion dollars and would crank out 675 MW of reliable base load power.

Voorhees has to really stretch to make NRCM seem reasonable in opposing just two projects out of more than a dozen where decisions were made by DEP or LURC: Black Nubble/Redington and the Kibby expansion to Sisk Mt. he mentions. NRCM also came out as neutral on the Bowers project last year. NRCM has supported projects that are clearly visible from Mt. Katahdin and Acadia National Park, that affect the Bigelow Preserve, the Tumbledown and Mahoosuc public reserved lands, the Bald Mt. & Speckled Mt public lands right next door to Peru. NRCM supports the Saddleback Wind project in Carthage, which will be clearly visible from popular Mt. Blue State Park. Folks, this is just the start of the devastation of our quality of place that we value. If we do not stop the onslaught of these huge ugly machines across our landscape, we will never be able to go anywhere without turbines in our view. Dylan Voorhees is not from Maine and speaking as an eight generation Mainer, I loathe his and NRCM's vision of ruining my native state for the folly of industrial wind.

Monique Aniel's picture

Two years ago Dylan

Two years ago Dylan Voorhees told Mainers that windpower would get Maine "off oil". We told him electricity is not generated with oil (natural gas, coal, hydro, biomass, nuclear, but not oil) and he did not argue.

A little later he told us that we needed wind turbines to save the mountains of West Virginia from coal extraction. We told him that was also wrong, WV coal will be mined regardless of how many wind turbines there are in Maine, he did not argue.

Now he tells us that we need turbines to save money on natural gas, a domestic, cheap, relatively clean burning and plentiful resource, which is projected to remain at present prices for the next decade. Wind power receives subsidies that are worth more per kilowatt (about 6 cents per kw) than the wholesale cost of electricity from natural gas (about 5 cents per kw). Without these subsidies wind power would not exist.

What would you think about a salesman who changes the purpose of his product each time he is proven wrong?
Perhaps Dylan should tell us why HE likes wind power so much. In 2007 his organization received several hundred thousand dollars in mitigation payments in return for NRCM's support for the destruction of Kibby Mountain with 66 wind turbines by Transcanada.

Monique Aniel

Frank Heller's picture

Dylan Vorhees view of hydropower is grossly inaccurate.

When Vorhees said "that hydro-power, which fluctuates considerably, varies anywhere from 10 to 20 percent" I figured he was misreported. Happens a lot in heated debate.

There are several sources to consider.

One is the actual output from a hydroelectric turbine, i.e. it's operating efficiency...and that, depending on the type and the manufacturer, is between 83 and 91%...easily checked by going to VEITH, ANDRUS, CARGO & KRAFT or other major vendors.

Then there is the actual KWH over time; and this depends on the annual water flowage, and that depends on the amount of water stored up to use when the volume of water in an impound drops in the summer or winter. This the output capacity and given the minimal amount of maintenance a turbine requires, this usually over 80%, which is considerably better than a wind turbine's 28-30%.

Some quotes:

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the largest operator of hydroelectric power plants in the United States and one of the largest in the world. The 75 Corps plants have a total installed capacity of 23,764 megawatts and produce nearly 68 billion kilowatt-hours a year. This is 24% of the nation’s total hydropower output.

Hydropower offers numerous advantages over alternative fuels. It is:

>>Renewable. The earth provides a continual supply of water from rainfall and snowmelt.

>>Efficient. Hydropower plants convert about **90 percent ** of the energy in falling water into electricity.

>>Clean. Hydropower plants do not emit waste heat and gases.
Reliable. Hydropower machinery is relatively simple, which makes it reliable and durable.

>>Flexible. Units can start quickly and adjust rapidly to changes in electricity demand"

"Because hydropower plants are the only major generators that can dispatch power to the grid immediately when all other energy sources are inaccessible, they provide essential back-up power during major electricity disruptions such as the 2003 blackout.

An estimated 50 million people living in states from New York to Michigan were affected by the blackout, but hydropower facilities in New York and elsewhere, like the Niagara and St. Lawrence-FDR plants, operated continuously through the blackout and helped to restore power to millions of Americans.

This unique operational ability, known as blackstart, means that hydropower facilities can resume operations in isolation without drawing on an outside power source."

This is a bit of data overkill but hydropower is the most sustainable and beneficial of all energy modalities:

"Representatives of more than 170 countries reached consensus at the Top World Conference on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg (2002), and at the 3rd World Forum on Water, in Kyoto (2003): all hydroelectric generation is renewable and merits international support. Read, below, the ten reasons leading them to this conclusion.

1. Hydroelectricity is a renewable energy source.

Hydroelectricity uses the energy of running water, without reducing its quantity, to produce electricity. Therefore, all hydroelectric developments, of small or large size, whether run of the river or of accumulated storage, fit the concept of renewable energy.

2. Hydroelectricity makes it feasible to utilize other renewable sources.

Hydroelectric power plants with accumulation reservoirs offer incomparable operational flexibility, since they can immediately respond to fluctuations in the demand for electricity. The flexibility and storage capacity of hydroelectric power plants make them more efficient and economical in supporting the use of intermittent sources of renewable energy, such as solar energy or Aeolian energy.

3. Hydroelectricity promotes guaranteed energy and price stability.

River water is a domestic resource which, contrary to fuel or natural gas, is not subject to market fluctuations. In addition to this, it is the only large renewable source of electricity and its cost-benefit ratio, efficiency, flexibility and reliability assist in optimizing the use of thermal power plants.

4. Hydroelectricity contributes to the storage of drinking water.

Hydroelectric power plant reservoirs collect rainwater, which can then be used for consumption or for irrigation. In storing water, they protect the water tables against depletion and reduce our vulnerability to floods and droughts.

5. Hydroelectricity increases the stability and reliability of electricity systems.

The operation of electricity systems depends on rapid and flexible generation sources to meet peak demands, maintain the system voltage levels, and quickly re-establish supply after a blackout. Energy generated by hydroelectric installations can be injected into the electricity system faster than that of any other energy source. The capacity of hydroelectric systems to reach maximum production from zero in a rapid and foreseeable manner makes them exceptionally appropriate for addressing alterations in the consumption and providing ancillary services to the electricity system, thus maintaining the balance between the electricity supply and demand.

6. Hydroelectricity helps fight climate changes.

The hydroelectric life cycle produces very small amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG). In emitting less GHG than power plants driven by gas, coal or oil, hydroelectricity can help retard global warming. Although only 33% of the available hydroelectric potential has been developed, today hydroelectricity prevents the emission of GHG corresponding to the burning of 4.4 million barrels of petroleum per day worldwide.

7. Hydroelectricity improves the air we breathe.

Hydroelectric power plants don't release pollutants into the air. They very frequently substitute the generation from fossil fuels, thus reducing acid rain and smog. In addition to this, hydroelectric developments don't generate toxic by-products.

8. Hydroelectricity offers a significant contribution to development.

Hydroelectric installations bring electricity, highways, industry and commerce to communities, thus developing the economy, expanding access to health and education, and improving the quality of life. Hydroelectricity is a technology that has been known and proven for more than a century. Its impacts are well understood and manageable through measures for mitigating and compensating the damages. It offers a vast potential and is available where development is most necessary.

9. Hydroelectricity means clean and cheap energy for today and for tomorrow.

With an average lifetime of 50 to 100 years, hydroelectric developments are long-term investments that can benefit various generations. They can be easily upgraded to incorporate more recent technologies and have very low operating and maintenance costs.

10. Hydroelectricity is a fundamental instrument for sustainable development.

Hydroelectric enterprises that are developed and operated in a manner that is economically viable, environmentally sensible and socially responsible represent the best concept of sustainable development. That means, "development that today addresses people's needs without compromising the capacity of future generations for addressing their own needs" (World Commission on the Environment and Development, 1987).

Sources and more information
Itaipu Binacional"

Gary Steinberg's picture

The Green lobby Gestapo

Mr. Voorhees and NRCM in Lincoln in 2009, presented the community with a question and answer period.

All questions by the citizens were pre-screened.

Undesireable questions were eliminated.

Sieg NRCM!

NRCM has done to Lincoln what the SS did to its victims in eastern Europe.
NRCM and "Mr Voorhees", "The Green SS" ,is to be trusted in the same manner.

Protect yourselves good citizens of Peru.

Ordinance them out of your lives, before you are ruined like the Lincoln Lakes region!

Brad Blake's picture

No credibility for Voorhees

If there is one person who should be out of a job in this state, it is "clean energy project director" Voorhees. He might as well be a paid lobbyist for the wind industry as he travels the state spreading the lies and misrepresentations that support the wind industry. When he came to Lincoln in 2009, after being pummelled by questions and criticisms of First Wind's Rollins project and wind power in general, he stated to the gathering that NRCM judges each wind project individually and NRCM had not taken a position on Rollins. A week later, he stated emphatically at the DEP public comment meeting that NRCM supported Rollins. Well, the elitist out of stater Voorhees admitted to me that prior to the first meeting in Lincoln, the ONLY TIME he had been North of Bangor was to go to Baxter State park. Both times he came to Lincoln were evening meetings, arriving after dark. He, and I'm sure no other NRCM staff member, never laid eyes on the "Land of 13 lakes" that they so easily condemned to being the "Land of 40 ugly noisy turbines on blasted & leveled ridges".

Voorhees and his ilk care nothing about Peru or any of the other River valley region towns. You are expendable, you are not scenic, your quality of life and natural resources do not matter. Your community must be sacrificed for the climate zealots' dream that we all live off wind power. They don't have a practical brain amongst them, but they are paid shills for this farce. Wind power doesn't work even 25% of the time in Maine's poor wind potential and whatever money might come to the town from a sprawling industrial wind site will never be worth the contentiousness that will permeate your town, the loss of scenic values and property values, the noise problems that will affect the residents who are subjected to turbines being imposed on them, and the town being left with a useless cluster of turbines when the subsidies end and the developer walks away leaving the town holding the liability. The state will not protect your interests. Voorhees and NRCM diligently work against you on behalf of the wind industry. Peru and other towns must take matters into their own hands and control wind development locally with an ordinance that protects the interests of all residents of Peru.

Alice Barnett's picture

Stay away from conservation

"Open Space" the applicant wishes to engage.
For instance, using the Alternative Method, ordinary Open Space would make the parcel eligible for a 20% reduction in the assessment.

If the owner wishes to allow public access(snow machining) to the property then he would be eligible for an additional 25% reduction making it a 45% reduction in total.

There are further levels of Open Space that may allow up to a 95% reduction in the assessment if approved.

Unfortunately, tax losses from the Farmland and Open Space Programs are not reimbursed to the Town.

Dan McKay's picture

Peru citizens answered a

Peru citizens answered a survey with 77% wanting a wind ordinance in lieu of current DEP regulations. 77% of these people indicated scenic and sound concerns needed addressing. According to Mr. Voorhess' remarks about the Kibby Project, he isn't in agreement with the State's mandate of placing 2/3 of the state in an industrial zone.
The Peru Wind Ordinance Committee is diligently moving ahead and I commend them for bringing in people with varying viewpoints and knowledge.

Alice Barnett's picture

money out of pockets

The government has been subsidizing renewable energy development at the cost of Maine ratepayers. As a result, energy prices have skyrocketed over the past decade and we can no longer expect Maine people to foot the rising bill.

1. Reliability Maine; 8% of $30 billion for Maine would be $2.4 billion in expense for Maine ratepayers. = rate hike =

2.400,000,000 / 560,000 = $4,2857 per household

2. Efficiency Maine , a program that places a surtax on everyone's electric bill. That's an increase = rate hike.

3.Add a cent of stranded cost(biomass 1980's) to your per kilowatt hour charges—‘cha-ching’.

4. Shutting Maine Yankee before its expected lifetime added one cent to two cents to your bill--"cha-ching'

5. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) pushed by the NRCM——add another cent.--‘cha-ching’

6. Capacity payments, the payments made to standby-on-demand industrial and commercial electricity producers, yep, pushed by these environmentalists. One cent more—‘cha-ching’.

7. Long-term contracts to the wind industry and conservation charges lobbied for by NRCM employees—another cent, ‘cha-ching’.

Gary Steinberg's picture

Tell Voorhees and NRCM where to go and what will be done(period

Home rule in Maine is superior to any green dream of NRCM's perverted doctrine of global warming hysteria. This hysteria is also being shown to be a farce.
Peru should ordinance out wind scamming from its borders, and tell Voorhees to take his scam to another state. He has no authority, nor science, to say wind is a "solution " to anything.All her can do with the grren dream of his is attempt to pad NRCM's financial lock box and his meager greenwashed salary.
Ordinance them out Peru, do your civic duty, protect your citizens from infra-sound and the area from environmental devastation.
In Lincoln, (where he had never visited nor explored), he declared the area with pristine lakes and ridges to be unimportant and sacrificial to the cause. Indeed, it in now a mess.
Ordinance them out, or face the same fate.

Alan Michka's picture

Groping for a reason to justify wind power development

NRCM's Dylan Voorhees: "We are sending money out of state every time we fill up our tanks with gas and every time we flip on the light switch," he said.

The NRCM's reasons for pushing mountaintop wind development on communities around the state seem to be more and more focused on economic issues. Hmm, an environmental group selling wind power for non-environmental reasons. Could it be that the weakness of their environmental benefits reasoning has been exposed?

To the people of Peru: You are little more than a rung on the NRCM agenda ladder. Beware of NRCM emissaries. Your town is not their concern. Their agenda is their concern.


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