Anti-wind group backs LePage in fight against renewable energy initiative

AUGUSTA — Friends of Maine's Mountains, a group that opposes the proliferation of grid-scale wind power, announced Thursday that it's supporting Gov. Paul LePage's push against a citizen initiative that would expand the state's renewable energy portfolio.

Maine currently mandates that utility companies derive a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources. However, a coalition called Maine Citizens for Clean Energy has launched a citizen referendum to increase the requirements in the state's so-called Renewable Portable Standard.

The initiative runs sharply against the governor's energy policy. Last year, LePage tried to freeze the current RPS mandate but met stiff opposition from the state's wind-power lobby and environmental groups.

On Wednesday, the governor told the Capitol News Service that the citizen effort to expand the Renewable Portfolio Standard was "nothing more than a scam to make a few people wealthy."

On Thursday, the Friends of Maine's Mountains group backed the governor.

"This would be an environmental and economic disaster for Maine," said Chris O'Neil in a prepared statement, adding that passage of the citizen initiative was a "de facto mandate for an unsustainable buildup of wind turbines and costly transmission systems on Maine's mountains."

He added, "Markets would not support any wind power at all if not for a complicated brew of incentives, grants, mandates, tax breaks, surcharges and other government-created gimmicks."

Maine's RPS is set to reach 40 percent by 2017. The referendum would increase that mandate to 50 percent by 2020, while also requiring providers to invest in energy efficiency. Maine's current RPS is 34 percent.

Proponents of the RPS say it encourages the development of renewable resources, which in turn, leads to job creation. Opponents say the mandate is costly, drives up rates and favors the development of wind power while excluding Canadian hydropower from counting toward the RPS total.

States including Vermont have changed their RPS mandate to allow Canadian hydropower to count toward RPS.

LePage has been pursuing a new energy policy that might include importing Canadian hydropower. Ken Fletcher, the governor's energy czar, told the Sun Journal last month that Hydro-Quebec had also inquired about being allowed to count toward RPS.

Maine Citizens for Clean Energy held a news conference in Augusta this week to support the referendum. The group said it's confident it will collect more than 57,000 valid signatures needed by the end of January to get the question on the ballot later this year.

Environment Northeast's Maine director, Beth Nagusky, acknowledged that residential electric bills would rise initially, but then decrease if the measure passes.

The governor has cited an analysis by the Maine Public Utilities Commission that estimated the citizen initiative would cost between $40 million and $80 million a year.

smistler@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Money

This referendum initiative is about money. Money and wind.

Due to the fact that most people who are asked to sign the petition won't take the time to learn the realities of what would happen if the referendum were to pass, it's probably safe to assume that enough signatures will be gathered to put the question on the ballot. After all, the question sounds very benign. Few people would refuse to sign unless they were already engaged in or well-educated regarding the history of Maine's current energy plan. I do find it curious that they are down to the wire with just 10 days to go, and their goal hasn't been met, yet...

See, I believe in the Maine voter. And I believe they will look at this initiative with an open mind. Mainers are independent thinkers and we know that any time something is MANDATED, there is a real downside that deserves scrutiny.

The referendum's wording is designed to be ambiguous. Maine citizens are researching wind development and finding out that the negative impacts far outweigh its negligible benefits, but don't be fooled. Even though wind isn't singled out, rest assured that this is a referendum designed to benefit one sector--wind development. It is the only 'new' renewable poised and ready to be built in the massive numbers which would satisfy this mandate.

The members of Maine Citizens for Clean Energy are hiding their avarice behind a cloak of green. If Maine citizens wish to pay out of pocket to fund a few corporations selling a low-value product, then they will approve the ballot intiative. But I think we're smarter than that. I think we're beginning to see beyond the feel-good hype and the scare tactics straight to the heart of the matter. WE are handing over our rights to make decisions for ourselves, and are destroying a free market society whenever we pass laws which REQUIRE us to purchase an over-priced, under-producing product.

The wind lobby can spend their millions of dollars (MCCE's CPR shows they've invested over $200,000.00 in this initiative already) to push for this initiative, but I think it will be in vain. Mainers won't be hood-winked by this coalition anymore.

I'm pleased that we have a governor who won't be intimidated into making decisions designed to cost Maine residents and businesses more money unnecessarily.

Respectfully,
Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., Maine

Alan Michka's picture

Referendum is a wolf in sheep's clothing

Thanks to Friends of Maine's Mountains for making it very clear what the NRCM, Environment Northeast and the rest of the wind lobby are up to with their wolf in sheep's clothing referendum initiative.

Folks, this is an attempt by these special interests to deepen Maine's current mandate to force people to put up with poorly considered wind power development. They know this industry cannot survive on its merits, so they want to expand the force of law behind the sprawl of forty to fifty-story wind turbines all over rural Maine. In other words, they want to force Maine to pay for their agenda.

Ms. Nagusky's group, Environment Northeast, should reveal the assumptions and calculations they are using to make bold predictions about future energy costs. I suspect they're very "wind friendly."

 's picture

rate hikes

Leave GRID scale WIND out of alternative energy. GRID scale WIND does not work...now show me your plan NRCM.

Estimates of 40 - 80 million dollar increase in rates because of NCRM and Efficiency Maine and CLF ballot initiative.=$60,000,000 / 560,000 ratepayers = $107.42 a year......okay..that hurts

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 = 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-cjing'

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’.

 's picture

government mandated energy supplier

I am positive myself and most Mainers would love to tap into the wind as a source of inexpensive power. The trouble is, that at this time, the technology for wind power is very expensive. We now pay 40% higher energy cost than the national average to supply Maine homes and businesses. this initiative will remove more money from family budgets,while adding to the burden of attracting business to Maine. Personally, I feel that one should have the freedom of choice for their source of energy, not a government mandate making them pay a higher cost to satisfy a group of Special Interest.

Hart Daley's picture

To the Point!

Well stated Mr. Pond! I couldn't agree more and I can't afford more!

Alan Woods's picture

Why Maine?

FACT:
Maine is already one of the "greenest" states in the nation.

FACT:
Maine's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is already THE most agressive in the nation.

So here's a multiple choice question for you:

Why do some people think Maine's RPS needs to be raised even higher at enormous cost to Maine citizens?
a) So they can feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
b) So they can scam the system and spend more time suckling at the taxpayer teat.
c) Because they haven't studied the science of wind generated power.
d) Because they never studied Economics 101, or failed it if they did.
e) All of the above.

 's picture

Rate payers should not be

Rate payers should not be forced to back special interest groups. This agenda is clearly driven by the wind industry. Let the rate payer choose on their own by giving them the option to pay a higher rate for "green" generated power. Frankly, a special interest group that doesn't recognize hydro power as a renewable energy source is not to be believed.

Hart Daley's picture

Hydro Heaven

The only thing "green" these wind driven special interest groups are interested in is manufactured by the US Treasury Dept. I hope and pray that more and more people recognize the enronic scam that is going on.

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