J. Payne: Debate about wind power

I applaud the Sun Journal editorial (Feb. 5) for acknowledging the benefits of the $1 billion investment made by wind power development in Maine during the past five years. The follow-up editorial (Feb. 8) discussing reader comments also focuses some much-needed attention on the quality of the debate over wind power.

There is room for improvement in any human undertaking. Those of us involved in the development of any industry understand that, and renewable energy is no exception. We are quite willing to talk with anyone who has legitimate questions and concerns about impacts and a genuine interest in improving the way policies and projects are implemented.

That said, it is encouraging to see concerns expressed on the tone and content of the messages spread by wind opponents. It has become increasingly difficult to find people opposed to wind who want to have constructive discussion. Instead, the dialogue often feels poisoned by misinformation and angry rhetoric.

As a supporter and spokesman for the wind community, I work hard to ensure that the facts I use are solid and backed up by data and analysis. There is too much to lose if even one point is called into question. Opponents, on the other hand, seem emboldened by the power of creating doubt and fear by any means necessary.

Thank you for creating a forum where important public issues can be discussed in a civil manner.

Jeremy Payne, Augusta

Executive director,

Maine Renewable Energy


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Jason Theriault's picture

Keep up the good work, Mr

Keep up the good work, Mr Payne

 's picture

"if even one point is called into question"

Jeremy, I would like to call a few points into question. Where are the C02 reductions promised by the wind industry? C02 rose by 5.9% for 2010. Where are the regular jobs for the communities after the construction is done? Usually 1 or 2 per project with GE contracted to bring in the workers from away when needed. Why has the climate change hysteria disappeared from the pro wind arguments? The wind turbines have zero impact on climate change, that is why. Why have my contacts with wind developers and the AWEA been unanswered? Anyone with an opposing view is ignored even if they are looking for info in an unbiased manner. What is your position on conservation? How do you propose to reduce fuel consumption and coal burning? Simply erecting wind turbines is not the answer, nor even a small part of it. Do you wish to shut down the airline industry? That would reduce C02 pumped 30,000 ft in the air, right? Do you advocate shutting down the cruise ship industry, as they fuel up with 500,000 plus gallons at each stop? We could still have sail cruises... How about the military fuel use? Or the Maersk type of jumbo cargo ships? Think how much we could save. The US could stop exporting coal and save the W.Va. mtns. Peppering the Maine mtns. with windsprawl will do nothing to prevent the mountaintop mining. How many wind turbines would it take to replace the 1600 coal burning generators in the US? 2 million or so? That is if the wind blows all of them at the same time. If the industry you represent had any viable solutions to the above problems you would not hear the complaints which accompany these wasteful and destructive developments everywhere they go. Approx. 540 anti wind groups now in Europe, the highest elec rates are in countries with the most windsprawl. Why should we follow them over a cliff?

 's picture

zero impact on climate change

I am not a scientist but death to birds alone causes some kind of change. Imagine the dead air after the turbine blades swhoosh it up.
thousands of dead air spaces on our ridges. Yeck.

 's picture

Distorting and manipulating the facts…

To quote Jeremy Payne:

“I applaud the Sun Journal editorial (Feb. 5) for acknowledging the benefits of the $1 billion investment made by wind power development in Maine during the past five years.”

“As a supporter and spokesman for the wind community, I work hard to ensure that the facts I use are solid and backed up by data and analysis. There is too much to lose if even one point is called into question. Opponents, on the other hand, seem emboldened by the power of creating doubt and fear by any means necessary.”

I’ve got to give Mr. Payne credit. He’s got a lot of brass. Even wind developer Angus King is recorded as publicly admitting that the standard and oft-quoted statistic of “$1 billion investment in Maine” is NOT completely factual. It’s a script, for sure, because Mr. King still mentions the 1 billion dollars; knowing the power of suggestion, he still puts that grandiose figure in the minds of his audience--then he chuckles sheepishly and goes on to say that he has to be honest and disclose that the ACTUAL dollar figure funneling into Maine is approximately $380 million, instead. And much of that money has been SPENT here, but it is not what most business people would call an “investment”, with long-term benefits and lucrative returns. And of course, even then there is no mention of how much of the $1 billion is tax-payer subsidized, either--rather than private investment funds. (Think... approx. 2/3!)

Mr. Payne maligns those he calls “opponents”. While distorting the truth as he did in this letter to the editor, Mr. Payne insinuates that people whose opinions differ from his own are the ones twisting the facts. While there is no doubt that opponents of Maine’s current wind energy plan are passionate about this topic, that is not indication of the presence of false statements as much as it is indicative of the great frustration felt by citizens who have done their homework and discovered that the paltry benefits of wind can never outweigh the negative impacts; whether environmental, social, financial or health-related.

Opponents aren’t creating doubt. Opponents are attempting to educate their peers. Citizens aren’t the ones who are becoming fearful—they are the ones who are getting irate. They have sifted through the rhetoric and tag lines about how wind will save the planet from global warming, how it will increase our national security and bring our soldiers home, and how wind will ‘get us off foreign oil’. Many opponents were once strong supporters of wind development—until they had to confront the harsh reality regarding the scope and scale of mountaintop development and they began to see past the propaganda designed to gain support for the failed technology and economics of industrial wind. Like many other Mainers, they accepted the 'spin' that the wind industry produced--until they took a few moments to research the issue.

And THAT fact is what is making the wind industry and lobbyists like Mr. Payne ‘fearful’. They know their free ride and their domination of the topic of energy is coming to an end. That is a frightening prospect.

Mr. Payne doesn’t want wind opponents ‘emboldened’ because bold opponents speak up. Bold opponents educate others. Bold opponents don’t let themselves or their neighbors get steamrolled by corporate interests. Our anger at the process and our justified distrust of many wind proponents may make us more vocal than the wind industry would like–but...that’s too bad. As caring individuals, as stewards of our natural resources, and as Americans who believe we have the right to speak out and be heard, we will continue to hold the wind industry’s feet to fire. When they utter statements like “$1 billion investment in Maine”…we will demand to see the proof.

If they spoke the truth more often, they would have no reason to get antsy when “opponents” are “emboldened” to speak.

Finally, Mr. Payne states: "We are quite willing to talk with anyone who has legitimate questions and concerns about impacts..."

I'm curious as to who Mr. Payne considers "legitimate" for I have personally witnessed him snubbing those with the temerity to publicly state a differing opinion from his own. There are no obvious lines of communication open between Maine Renewable Energy Associates and the public--not unless that public tows the windustry's line.

That is unfortunate. This is a critical subject, and one that warrants open dialogue between trustworthy individuals.

Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., Maine

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Whose data and analysis?

Mr. Payne, it would seem your data and analysis depend on your paycheck. You are getting paid to support them.

Maybe that is why you can say with a straight face that wind power is "green".

 's picture

Spinmeister Payne

Mr. Payne gets paid well to spend all day spinning the misinformation campaign of the wind industry. So when he claims wind power critics use misinformation that is the classic "pot calling the kettle black".

Mr. Payne, I am one of the people quoted in the Feb. 8 LSJ editorial. I am a regular citizen who has to work all day at a job no way related to wind. But this issue is so critically important to me as a 7th generation Mainer, that I must speak out. Like the hundreds of other critics of the proliferation of industrial wind in Maine, we give freely of our spare time and resources. My advanced degree has enabled me to be a critical thinker and to draw well substantiated conclusions. I stand by everything I write.

How dare you so arrogantly denigrate the work of the citizens who have risen up against more than a decade of wind industry propaganda to speak out a Maine-based truthful critique of wind industry? Critics of the wind industry include a broad spectrum from every day citizens who just know right from wrong or who have already become victims of wind power sites to doctors, lawyers, economists, and engineers.

Mr. Payne, you don't own the truth, facts, or integrity in this debate; far from it! If the citizens of this state could have the time and resources to make our case in Augusta, you would be hard pressed to defend an indefensible industry. Must be nice to be a smug paid shill!

Alan Michka's picture

People who live in glass houses.....

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Payne that the Maine wind power discussion - or any other discussion - can only benefit when the content remains fact-based.

However, having heard Mr. Payne's testimony in Augusta last week, I can say with confidence that he should not be casting stones.

 's picture

Green or Greed?

Click on the link to read 'Why I turned against "Green" wind power'.


Who is fudging numbers?

The Spruce Mountain Wind Project is 1.2 miles from my home. It wasn't even in the sound map for receiving sound from the project. Now I am making sound readings at night from 48-53 dB(a). The wind industry puts out flawed sound maps before the project is built. It is after the wind company gets it's project up that the people realize the devastation from sound. I live were I live for the peace and quiet. It now has been destroyed by a flawed sound map and a company that greeds for the the federal subsidies.
Please go and see the award winning presentation of Windfall in your neighborhood. It is an open view of how the wind industry moves into small towns. It is an honest view.

 's picture

DEP Wind applicants sound modeling maps

Jeremy Payne, When I stood before the Environment and Natural Resources committee with 3 sound modeling maps and stated that 34 "receptors" in Saddleback Wind Project were going to hear 40-45 decibels ; I was not lying.

The sound modeling maps have a trend of 35-45 dBa at one mile limit from turbine centers.

I have seen maps from LURC applicants but I cannot copy and paste.

I look in the DEP website for maps and applications and cannot find them.

What are you trying to hide?

Frank Heller's picture

Mr. Payne's 'newly' opened mind or two sides to every coin.

There is nothing like some major defeats to take the 'wind out of' Mr. Payne's once full sails. We now know a lot more about the primary and secondary impact of wind farms, i.e. loss of forest & bio mass, the big footprint of clear cuts for transmission lines, and the growing need for 'instant-on' backup generators, which doubles the cost of wind farms.

But what is little understood is the overall impact on a small rural town of wind farms and their leases.

Luckily, FRIENDS OF MAINE MOUNTAINS is sponsoring a State-wide showing of a splendid, award winning documentary of such an impact on a small town in New York State's CATSKILL mountains and a reversal of once solid support for the farm.

WINDFALL is The sponsor of this multiple venue event, Friends of Maine's Mountains, is working to develop additional screenings in Bar Harbor, Ellsworth, Portland, Orono, Lewiston and Brunswick. All venues below will have free admission with the exception of The Strand Theater in Rockland.




Colby College
4000 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, ME 04901
Thursday, February 16, 2012 -- 7:00 pm
Ostrove Auditorium / Diamond Building.

Rangeley Public Library
7 Lake Street
Oquossoc, ME 04964
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 -- 4:30 pm

Carrabassett Community Library
3209 Carrabassett Drive #3
Carrabassett Valley, ME 04947
Thursday, February 23, 2012 -- 7:00 pm
Begin Family Community Room

New Portland Community Room
River Road (adjacent to firehouse)
New Portland, ME 04961
Friday, February 24, 2012 -- 6:00 pm

Unity College
Unity College Center for Performing Arts
Depot Street
Unity, ME
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 -- 7:00 pm

Skowhegan Free Library
9 Elm Street
Skowhegan, ME 04976
Thursday, March 1, 2012 -- 6:00 pm

The Strand Theater
345 Main Street
Rockland, ME
Saturday, March 3, 2012 -- 2:00 pm
Sunday, March 4, 2012 -- 3:00 pm.

Dirigo High School
145 Weld Street
Dixfield, ME
Sunday, March 4, 2012 -- 2:00 pm

University of Maine - Farmington
111 South Street
Farmington, ME 04938
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 -- 7:00 pm

University of Maine - Fort Kent
Location to be determined
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 -- 6:00 pm

Snowmobile Club
473 Houlton Road
Island Falls, ME 04747
Friday, March 30, 2012 -- 6:30 pm

..more will be announced...


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