S. McGuire: Throwing the baby to the wolves

I’ve been wondering for some time how the Natural Resources Council of Maine could possibly justify its support of industrial wind power (staff doesn’t answer my letters).

Now I see from its presentation in Peru that it’s really quite simple: NRCM doesn’t want wind power in the places it values, so it encourages construction in places like Western Maine.

No doubt NRCM’s wind developer buddies thank the staff handsomely: indeed, I’ve read about some generous “gifts” to various conservation projects.

But it’s even more cold-blooded than that.

NRCM supports wind power construction even though industrial wind doesn’t replace a drop of oil or gas. The power it generates doesn’t benefit Maine; it’s sold down south, and the high-voltage power lines are creepy, dangerous and ugly.

The turbines kill thousands more birds and bats than the industry admits, and the sound reportedly makes people sick. And, the Expedited Wind Law forbids protection based on scenic values in most places.

Oh, and the people of Oakfield aren’t “working with First Wind to create a 120-MW facility,” as NRCM asserts. People in Oakfield are fighting as hard as they can to prevent it.

As NRCM Clean Energy Project Director Dylan Voorhees himself put it, “It’s a balancing act”: The places he loves versus the places we love.

Shame on you at the NRCM.

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Comments

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Industrial Wind Power has no place in Maine.

NRCM's support for industrial wind power in Maine is very disappointing. On balance they must believe that it will reduce our dependency on and use of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, Industrial Wind Power and People are incompatible.

Alice Barnett's picture

Thank You Sally

and monique, karen and dan.
Conservation is starting to bother me.

below is a quote from a town appraiser.

Open Space would make the parcel eligible for a 20% reduction in the assessment. If the owner wishes to allow public access 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
Unfortunately, tax losses from the Farmland and Open Space Programs are not reimbursed to the Town.

Dan McKay's picture

Crony capitalism is a term

Crony capitalism is a term describing a capitalist economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials.
Most people don't see this as " Good Old American Principles " , but many, with money in hand, would seem to display a sort of pride in this device of profit that furthers the burden on the average person.

Monique Aniel's picture

thank you Sally for your

thank you Sally for your letter .
here are few words about what will happen to the state of Maine if the NRCM self- serving dictatorial ruling members have their ways :

"There was once a beautiful region that became slowly engulfed by a glacial sheet 25,000 years ago. The advancing glacier created striations in the bedrock, shaped mountains and formed open bowl-shaped features called cirques. Where the highland above the cirques was narrow, thin ridges called aretes were produced, a good example being the Knife Edge on Mount Katahdin.

Then, about 18,000 years ago, in response to a warming climate, the glacier receded, reshaping the river valleys of the region that would become our beautiful state. From north to south and east to west, a most intricate landscape was created, with miles upon miles of soft ridges inhabited by a wide diversity of trees and animals.

By 2020,if NRCM and their allies in the legislature have their ways, what millennia of nature’s work had created will have been destroyed. Within 10 years from today earth movers will have blasted the mountain tops into submission and giant cranes will have spread thousands of steel towers with arm-waving blades, covering the entire mountain landscape so patiently designed by the powerful forces of nature.

From the top of beautiful Knife Edge to the Western Mountains, from the magical glacier pond of Tumbledown Mountain to the Down East lake watershed, from the River Valley area mountains surrounding the majestic Androscoggin River and Roxbury Pond to Mars Hill, from the hills of Freedom and Vinalhaven to the Lincoln Lakes area, the only thing the eye will see will be steel towers covering the mountains, governed by central operating control centers far away from the mountains.

In 2008 ,with the stroke of a pen, an uninformed governor named John Baldacci sacrificed the natural art work that millions of individuals had grown to love. Maine’s landscape would be destroyed because of a bill called LD 2283 which sacrificed an entire state to the wind industry. Baldacci and Voorhees , both wanted 2700 MW of wind power , about 1800 turbines , 360 miles of sacrificed ridges .

Gov. Percival Baxter once wrote about Mount Katahdin, “It stands above the plain unique in grandeur and glory.” We miss you, Gov. Baxter. You were a far cry from Gov. Baldacci who signed the law that would destroy your legacy.

What can YOu do? You can disassociate yourself from the people who made a pact with the devil and allowed this to happen.

Please stop your support for NRCM, the organization which pushed hard for this disaster to happen. If you do, maybe some of Maine’s mountains can be saved. Or at least let them know how misguided they have been.

Monique Aniel
co chair of the CITIZENS TASK FORCE ON WIND POWER
www.windtaskforce.org

/

Karen  Pease's picture

Wolves

Thank you Sally, for having the courage to stand up to--and question--powerful corporations and organizations.

I'm disappointed but not suprised that NRCM hasn't responded to your letters. Last year I asked Dylan Voorhees if we could meet and discuss mountaintop wind development and he adamantly declared "No!" He expressed the fact that he knew all he needed to know, and a frank exchange of ideas appeared to threaten him. I'd never witnessed a professional with such a closed mind or an unwilligness to admit that the position the NRCM had taken might be the wrong one. I don't know if egos are getting in the way of common sense within the NRCM, or if they simple can't see beyond the so-called 'green' cloak they've enveloped themselves in.

I continue to hold out hope that some within that organization will begin to stand up for the natural resources of Maine as well as its citizens before it is too late.

It is ironic that NRCM has thrown so much into its efforts to stop the Plum Creek development around Moosehead Lake. It's as if development in the form of homes and resorts is 'dirty' and unacceptable, but 'wind' is touted as 'clean'. Would NRCM oppose putting 2,000 or more 400-500 foot tall wind turbines all around the 'Jewell of Maine'? Their "Ballad of Moosehead Lake" scorns Plum Creek for wanting "money, money, money". Make no mistake-- money is what the wind energy plan is all about, too. The wind industry stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars--much of it from tax-payer subsidies and mandates--from building high-impact, low value wind developments.

I truly hope the NRCM will stop playing favorites. Wind won't save the planet, but it stands to destroy Maine as we know it. I urge NRCM leadership to respond to Sally and other citizens who are still looking to them for advocacy of our natural resources--both human and wild.

Respectfully,
Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., Maine

Dan McKay's picture

It worked at Kibby, NRCM says it will work in Woodstock

The Spruce Mountain Wind Project in Western Maine has been approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. The town of Woodstock will benefit from a number of tangible benefits including a conservation easement of 1,000 acres on the project site 

Dan McKay's picture

NRCM says put them here , not here.

In a NRCM statement approving the 44 turbine Kibby Mountain Project :

TransCanada has agreed to significant land conservation arrangements, including contributing to the permanent protection of approximately 750 acres in the Mahoosuc Mountain Range.

Bob Woodbury's picture

You said...

"No doubt NRCM’s wind developer buddies thank the staff handsomely: indeed, I’ve read about some generous “gifts” to various conservation projects."

Name one. Just one.

"The turbines kill thousands more birds and bats than the industry admits, and the sound reportedly makes people sick."

Verification?

"the high-voltage power lines are creepy, dangerous and ugly."

A Freddie Krugar quote?

Monique Aniel's picture

just one

http://www.nrcm.org/documents/Kibby_agreement.pdf
please read the agreement made between Transcanada and NRCM and Audubon concerning the support of the Kibby Mt Wind project by those organizations in 2007.

Monique Aniel

Bob Woodbury's picture

Please read my reply...

...to Ms. Pease below. Thank you.

Karen  Pease's picture

Naming one.. or more

Hi Bob,

I appreciate that you want facts. That's incredibly important in this debate. The following is taken from the official agreement made between Trans-Canada and the AMC, NRCM and Maine Audubon:

“As a result of extensive field studies and its ongoing consultation with Maine Audubon, NRCM, and the AMC, TransCanada has agreed to include the following additional measures to protect mountain and other environmental resources in the State:
“Contribute $500,000 toward the permanent conservation of approximately 750 acres of ecologically significant high elevation habitat and important backcountry recreation lands in Maine’s Mahoosuc Mountain range, as part of the Grafton Notch-Stowe Mountain acquisition.”

Other environmental groups have been compromised. Maine Audubon lists as "corporate sponsors" wind developers First Wind ($10,000.00) and Patriot Renewables ($1,000.00) as well as Reed & Reed, a major contractor which has been involved in the building of the current wind facilities in Maine. See this link for your proof: http://lynx.maineaudubon.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=372

Wind developers are famous for their 'sponsorship' and charitable donations. There is evidence of their payoffs and bribes in communities where wind developments have been built in Maine. The Arnold Trail, which runs adjacent to the Kibby wind project, was the catalyst for Trans-Canada 'donating' $100,000.00 to the Arnold Expedition Historical Society. That organization chose NOT to oppose T-C's Kibby project, and yet-- they were intervenors for the Highland Wind project. Why did they take a different position on that one?

Regarding wind turbines noise and the adverse health effects caused, please read "Wind Turbine Syndrome" by Dr. Nina Pierpont, or the report released by Carl V. Philips, PhD, or the recently released McPherson Study, conducted and written by two respected acousticians and noise control specialists here in Maine. That can be found at this link: http://randacoustics.com/wind-turbine-sound/the-bruce-mcpherson-ilfn-study/

What I find most disturbing is the fact that on October 19th First Wind hosted a fundraiser breakfast ($1000/plate) for Sen. Olympia Snowe at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse in Washington. When people like the Senator are poised to vote whether or not to extend cash grants and Production Tax Credits (the lifeblood of the wind industry) and a wind developer is throwing large amounts of money at them, Maine citizens are at a huge disadvantage. And I believe such donations compromise a candidate's ability to make common-sense and ethical decisions that are in the best interests of their constituents. I hope I'm wrong, but the fact of the matter is that the wind industry is 'courting' those who can help them, and participating in state-sanctioned bribery with those who can cause them problems.

THE FACTS ARE OUT THERE and easy to find, Bob. I agree that 'creepy' and 'ugly' are opinions, not facts (although I agree that they are 'ugly'!) but 'dangerous' may very well stand as fact. I encourage you to research electro-magnetic fields and the health impacts attributed to being in close proximity to high-voltage transmission lines.

The whole topic is really quite fascinating and I hope you'll dive in and do independent research, and then take an active role in this issue.

Respectfully,
Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., Maine

Bob Woodbury's picture

Thank you.

I appreciate all your help. I truly do. I have over time learned to take "expert" opinions with a grain of salt. With every expert "for" you can find another "against", both with compelling arguments. I saw nothing in the above material that gave us facts on how many avians would be impacted. Having concern about this particular subject, I have read several pieces, none of which give accurate numbers. There are many large wind farms in the mid-west. Avian interference has been "minimal". In regard to noise, one of these farms went on for miles, several hundred cows were grazing and didn't seem to be bothered by any noise. I left my window open the entire length of two fairly large farms, stopping occasionally, and heard nothing. I have made two trips to Mars Hill. I have listened in two different places on the separate trips and again, heard nothing. I have not made up my mind about wind farms. If they can supply electricity economically, with minimum damage to the ecology, I would probably be in favor of them, based on my experience. I am concerned about folks who throw what might be considered emotional roadblocks. There are today a certain number of birds killed by tall objects. That includes buildings, probably more than three stories tall, and our present power lines that have been in place for many years, but no evidence they have been a major contributor to avian mortality. I don't live in Lexington, so I don't have the NIMBY problem to worry about. If wind farms are bad, and there are documented facts to back it up, I'm with you. But when I consider all the huge wind farms that have all ready been constructed, I have to think they can't be all bad.

Karen  Pease's picture

Experts and such...for Bob

Hey, again, Bob!

Experts: Yep. I agree. Experts are a dime a dozen—and will usually say whatever they need to, in order to earn their dime.

And that’s why I urged you to do independent research. I don’t want you to believe me. I am a vocal opponent of Maine’s current wind energy plan. That may make me appear to be biased, even though I don’t stand to gain financially if wind developments are delayed or derailed. But neither should citizens look to the wind industry or its avid supporters for the facts. The wind lobby has an agenda—and that includes amassing as much money from tax-payer subsidies as possible and by taking advantage of government mandates which MAKE rate-payers purchase electricity which is more expensive-- simply because those “in authority” decided wind was benign, beneficial and ‘green’.

Sound: I can’t tell you, sir, how many times people have said the exact same things you have. Heck… I’ve been to several wind facilities and I could echo your words, myself. Many people say “I stood right under them and they didn’t bother me at all!” or “I was just a couple hundred feet from a wind turbine and it wasn’t that bad!” But there is far more to this story than most people think, and if you read the studies at those links I provided, you’ll begin to understand. Wind turbines of such massive size emit high and low frequency noises, as well as INFRASOUND. Infrasound is noise which the human ear cannot hear, but which the human body reacts to, nonetheless. I personally know people right here in Maine who have abandoned their dream homes because they were suffering very negative health effects once the nearby wind turbines came online. I know others who don’t have the option of moving, and have built bedrooms in their cellars where the whole family sleeps just to get away from the turbines’ adverse impacts. Please, if you have time, read the McPherson Study. Two experts who were contracted to study a wind turbine became unexpected victims. Their story is compelling. If you really want the scoop, contact the scientists who authored the study. You can contact them from the link provided. I can also connect you with the author of Wind Turbine Syndrome if your interest is sincere. These are real people with no stake in the game who have gone out on a limb to publish information which they know the wind industry will condemn. That is because they were convinced by data, rather than rhetoric, and truly believe what they say.

Bird and bats: Ooh, that’s a hot button topic. Many people are firm believers that wind developers under-report kills. Conventional wisdom says that scavengers dispose of many of the kills—especially during the night-time hours-- and other people swear that project owners hire people to remove carcasses on a regular basis. But we want proof and not hearsay, don’t we? We want real numbers. Something we can hang our hats on.

To start, I urge you to look up the Journal for Nature Conservation’s article titled “Adverse Impacts of Wind Power Generation on Collision Behaviour of Birds, and Anti-predator Behaviour of Squirrels” by Ryunosuke Kikuchi. I also suggest you contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for their ‘take’ on this issue. This Agency is finally beginning to give the topic some serious attention, and they also encourage citizens to weigh in with their opinions.

As I said, though… don’t take my word for anything. There are hundreds of studies and reports available, and to make an unbiased and informed opinion, you must research this without depending on people who seem to be “pro” or “anti” industrial wind. I’m confident that if you look at this issue objectively, you will find that your perspective will change.

Best of luck to you.
Respectfully,
Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., Maine

P.S. As far as “NIMBYism” being a problem, I don’t see it that way, at all. It is inherent in all living creatures to protect their homes and their families. Who else will look out for us, if we don’t protect our own loved ones, neighborhoods and communities? The government won’t protect us. Corporations surely won’t. No, I see NIMBY’s not as selfish elitists whose only concern is about a view (which is how we’ve been labeled)—but as individuals who’ve felt threatened to the point where they’ve finally taken the time to investigate the threat and decide upon an appropriate response or course of action. We aren’t backyard-specific, either. We say “Not In MAINE’S Back Yard”!

Dan McKay's picture

The problem with the " top

The problem with the " top down " approach where the State has effectively rezoned 2/3 of the State to an " Wind Industrial Area " is that it overwhelms the average citizen, causing each to lament " It's a done deal " or " You can't stop it "
The NRCM , the wind developers, and many select boards advance and fortify this " nothing can be done ! " attitude of concerned citizens.
It can be in the form of money ( representing power ) or simply political, sophisticated double speak to replace common sense with twisted information.
Many people are rightfully questioning the government's power to dictate how local land is to be put to use. Too many of these wind projects have been approved by " Big Brother " despite the overwhelming, underlying local opposition to them : Right Here in Maine!
Defeating this monstrous scheme being thrust down our throats will not be easy. The powers above us are not willing to listen, the money is too loud and blows away normal, reasonable thinking.

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