The EUT Committee knows that the Wind Energy Act is flawed. That is one of the main reasons why they decided last June to hold these work sessions. The Maine Wind Energy Development Assessment Report, commissioned by the 125th Legislature, lists 25 recommendations for changes to this law. There is no practical way to 'fix' the WEA when the problems are so many and so diverse but the EUT Committee has an opportunity to address a few of them. The Committee cannot continue to kick the can down the road. Legislators should vote a unanimous 'ought to pass' on LD616, LD1323 and LD1147.
It's unfortunate that so many reporters in Maine media do so little homework about the facts-- relying instead on political or idealogical partisanship and rhetoric.
Mr. Rooks can do better than this.
And as a respected reporter, he should.
The real facts are out there, if only one cares enough to look for them.
Lexington Twp., Maine
The editor's note isn't accurate, either. And once again, the inaccuracy is in bolder print than the facts.
The passage of LD616 would not have removed those communities from the EPA. Passage of LD616's Majority Report would have established a mechanism for those communities to apply for removal, once LURC adopted rules governing removal of specific areas from the EPA.
The language of the bill can be found here:
Thanks to the Sun Journal for printing this letter. It is never pleasant to be criticized or corrected and their willingness to publish this shows integrity on their part. I've been told by those in the business that writing headlines is one of the toughest aspects of journalism. Thank you, SJ, for allowing me to correct that June 20th headline.
There is much more to this ‘story’ than Mr. Payne says publicly. Few in authority have an in-depth knowledge of the history of ‘wind’ in Maine, or even factual knowledge about the science, economics or negative impacts of industrial-scale wind development. They are lobbied hard by people such as Mr. Payne. People who are paid well by ‘industry’ to sell their product have far more sway –and say—in the decision-making process than do mere citizens – those who have to live with and are directly and indirectly impacted by industrial-scale wind energy projects.
Mr. Payne states: “Through an open and deliberative process — which included six months of public hearings and extensive public documentation of discussion — Maine developed a comprehensive, statewide approach to wind power developments.”
What Mr. Payne DOESN’T say is that the ‘process’ of creating the Expedited Permitting Area was done behind closed doors, with only Baldacci’s Task Force members and the wind industry included. No mere citizen living in the EPA was included in the discussion. And strangely…NO MINUTES WERE TAKEN of the meetings. An “OPEN” process? That doesn’t pass the straight face test. He knows it—but he doesn’t share that tidbit of information.
In fact, in a January 17, 2008 letter (obtained through a FOIA request) from Alec Giffen (Chair of the Wind Task Force) to Karin Tilberg of former Governor Baldacci’s staff, Mr. Giffen writes this, regarding the formation of the Expedited Permitting Area:
“Here is my proposal for how we get from where we are now to a completed report from the Wind Power Task Force and proposed legislation to implement it…. Hold individual meetings with the ENGOs and developers (FPL, Rob Gardiner, UPC, TransCanada, Chip Ahrens, Harley Lee) to go over draft report and, if possible, develop a map of the area where expedited review would take place… Agreement would be that what is said in these meetings is confidential among the parties (ENGOs, us, and the developers)….
“Parties would sign an agreement to support the map publicly and privately and resist efforts to change it in the legislature.”
Yes, the Chairman of the Wind Task Force advocated including wind developers in meetings to design the EPA and he advocated that all who were a party to these meetings be required to sign what were, essentially, ‘gag’ orders!
Clearly, this process was ANYTHING but “open”.
Mr. Payne states: “The process includes extensive siting requirements, third-party review, and opportunities for public engagement and discussion.”
What about the public’s ability to say ‘no’? The formation of the EPA took away the rights of people in the Unorganized Territories to have any input in the rezoning of their communities. That was not only an ‘opportunity’ lost, it was a summary REMOVAL OF A RIGHT which is still enjoyed by more than 99% of Maine citizens. And the ‘third parties’ Mr. Payne speaks of are consultants hired by the wind industry, as well as siting authorities which are bound by the Wind Energy Law, a law which was reviewed (by mandate of the 125th Legislature) by INDEPENDENT consultants in 2011 and found to be deficient or defective in many areas.
Mr. Payne states: “There is no question that some folks don’t like the look of wind turbines and others are annoyed by them.”
This is Mr. Payne’s fall-back position & a remarkable understatement of the true facts.
The truth is, many people are sick. Very sick from being subjected to low & ultra low (infrasound) frequency noise. They aren’t ‘annoyed’. Annoyed people don’t get prescribed sleeping pills or anti-depressants by their doctors. They don’t suffer vertigo or tinnitus or have heart palpitations or panic attacks. They don’t build bedrooms in their basements in an attempt to escape the constant modulating noise & sound pressure. Annoyed people don’t abandon their dream homes…walking out—unable to sell, but unable to stay. Annoyed?
Mr. Payne’s comments are callous & he plays down & minimalizes the very real & serious impacts of wind turbines’ noise emissions. Why shouldn’t he? No one questions his statements. His cursory & dismissive statements are never put to the test by those who have the power to take substantive action to address this very serious health threat. Infrasound is used as a torture technique in some countries. Here in Maine, we’re allowing an industry to knowingly victimize citizens. They aren’t relegated to the class of ‘collateral damage’ for any ‘greater good’. They’ve been sacrificed for profit.
Mr. Payne states: “As Portland attorney and law professor Orland Delogu testified before the Legislature earlier this month, bills introduced this year in Augusta “unfairly single out one industrial activity, wind energy development, and impose a costly and time consuming level of regulatory measures designed to slow and/or kill commercial wind projects in Maine.”
The wind industry has PREFERENTIAL treatment in Maine. Mr. Payne & Mr. Delogu know that. The Wind Energy Act is the proof, as is the EPA. One can’t complain about being ‘singled out’ when that is exactly what the wind industry fought for in 2007 and 2008. They didn’t want to have to go through the same permitting process as all other industry would have to do. They didn’t want to have to apply for zoning changes in rural areas, like a WalMart, a pig farm, a nuclear plant or a commercial saw mill would have to do. No. They insisted that they be FAIRLY ‘singled out’. They made sure that the areas they coveted for development were rezoned ‘industrial’ –but for their industry, only.
Mr. Payne has a job to do. He does it well. But he is a master at telling just part of the story. He talks about how wind will ‘reduce pollution’ & dependence on fossil fuels but he doesn’t prove how it will do so. He assumes people will believe him because wind itself is a non-polluting fuel. He doesn’t mention how much pollution is caused by manufacturing, transportation & construction of wind turbines & their installation.
His standard tag lines have been thrown out by the wind industry since Day One. In fact, less than 2% (two percent) of our electricity is produced by oil. Maine uses oil to heat many of our homes & we use gasoline to run our vehicles. Electricity does not meet those demands. To tie wind in with Maine’s use of fossil fuels is imprudent & misleading.
There are significant problems in the assertion that wind energy will reduce carbon emissions. Many scientists have come out with studies stating just the opposite. Since wind is erratic, intermittent & undependable, back-up generators –often powered by coal or natural gas or another dense, reliable fuel--must be employed for those times when the wind doesn’t blow or it blows too strongly. Back-up generators are placed in ‘spinning reserve’-- a less efficient and higher-polluting state-- while waiting to be ramped back up during those times when wind generators aren’t producing. In addition, in many places where industrial wind has gotten a stronger foothold, NEW fossil-fuel-based electrical plants are being built specifically to take up the slack. Wind is not as ‘green’ as the wind industry like to tout it as being.
Unfortunately for citizens, most won’t ever hear anything but the sales pitches given by the industry. They will believe what they are told because it sounds believable… and it’s easier to accept what they read than it is to ask hard questions or get involved in a controversial topic. Mr. Payne is doing his job—seeing to it that Maine’s regulatory climate stays as it is…giving the wind industry preferential treatment. He marginalizes ‘opponents’ but he does that for a reason. We worry him because we are successfully exposing the truth. And the truth, when exposed, will quickly topple the house of cards the industry rests on.
While I understand you point of view, please let me say that the occasional 200 foot tall, slender cell phone tower and hundreds of miles of expensive, tax-payer-funded and massive 500 foot tall moving industrial machines atop our summits are...well, apples and oranges.
But that's neither here nor there. This story isn't about wind turbines, or about how they look. It is about right and wrong. It is about fairness. It is about the fact that less than 1% of your fellow Mainers had their rights summarily removed, without notice, and without our knowledge or input.
If you live in an organized municipality, you still have a say in any zoning or re-zoning decisions which might confront your community.
If you live in a UT OUTSIDE the EPA, you also have a process in which you can make your voice heard pertaining to zoning changes.
But we had that same right taken from us by an industry which wanted something we had... and didn't want --or dare--to ask us if we were okay with their taking.
Passage of LD616 will not disallow 'wind' within these communities. What it WILL do is restore to us the right and the ability to have input into whether or not such development is an acceptable use.
If you enjoy the freedom to 'have a say', I hope you'll respect and support our request to have that same freedom restored to us.
I just wanted to reply to your comment.
I agree that scenic impact alone is no reason to oppose a wind development. If the positive benefits of grid-scale industrial wind outweighed its negative impacts, scenic impact might be considered a negligible argument.
But this issue isn't one about 'wind' OR about how turbines look atop Maine's mountain summits. THIS issue-- this BILL-- is about citizens' rights. About fairness. About all Mainers standing on equal footing. 'Wind' has little to do with it... and only does at all, due to the fact that the bill wouldn't be necessary except for the Expedited Permitting Area, which was part of the Maine Wind Energy Act of 2008.
If you believe less than 1% of rural Mainers should have fewer rights than their fellow citizens, then it is okay to oppose LD616. But if you believe we should have an equal say in the zoning decisions of our homes towns-- as almost all Mainers do-- then you will support our request.
This bill isn't about 'wind', no matter what the industry and its supporters say.
Lexington Twp., Maine
Oh, my word!
Please understand this fundamental issue...
LD616 is NOT about industrial wind on Maine's mountain summits.
LD616 is a CITIZENS' RIGHTS bill.
The only reason 'wind' is in the picture AT ALL is because it was the 2008 Wind Energy Act which implemented the Expedited Permitting Zone. This law was the vehicle by which less than 1% of Maine citizens lost a right that 99% of our fellow Mainers still retain.
Please don't cloud the issue, or allow 'wind' proponents to do the same. We lost our right to participate in the re-zoning of our communities...but almost everyone else in Maine DIDN'T. We are simply asking to have those rights restored to us.
This bill should be a 'no brainer'. If you are not willing or able to look your neighbors in the eye and say "I deserve more rights than you do", then you will not only support this bill, you will ask the members of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee to do the same.
They can be reached here:
Respectfully and gratefully,
Lexington Twp., Maine
I responded to a similar article Dr. Jennings wrote almost three years ago. It seems he hasn't availed himself of the growing body of evidence --both peer-reviewed and otherwise -- that says... he's WRONG. Below is my letter to Dr. Jennings from August of 2010. How sad that he's decided to continue to promote an industry which doesn't care who it harms, or how many it harms, as long as it's allowed to stay its course.
From Lexington Township, Maine
Karen Bessey Pease
Submitted by Karen Pease on Fri, 08/06/2010 - 10:19.
Aw, doc. You're doing it again. Do you have any idea how many people ask, "Why doesn't Dr. Jennings get it? Why won't he LISTEN to people... to PATIENTS? " That' sir, is the sign of a true doctor, a good doctor. A doctor who adheres to his oath. He listens to the complaints of the people he's sworn to try to heal and nurture.
Surely, you can not reasonably ignore the many, many people who have legitimate complaints? Have you ever actually SPOKEN to any of them? If you are TRULY interested in being a friend and a doctor, please contact me. I can put you in direct contact with many people whose health is being adversely affected by industrial wind. No human being could listen and not be moved... not be concerned. No matter how often you say it isn't so, the facts don't change.
You do the people of Maine a disservice by using your degree to try to sound like an expert in the area of industrial wind and its associated health risks without first treating the patients affected. We are inclined to believe the words of a man with an MD after his name. Please do not take advantage of the PEOPLE by speaking on this topic until you have interviewed a host of individuals who are suffering from maladies associated with industrial wind turbines.
You did your best to disrupt the forum I spoke at in Brunswick. I allowed you to have your say, even though a true gentleman would have gone to the trouble to arrange his OWN forum rather than try to take over one which was put together by hard-working activists who BELIEVE what they are doing-- who BELIEVE they are right. Because, you see... we listen to the experts... those who are unbiased and have nothing to gain (and often, much to lose) by speaking out and sharing the FACTS they have discovered. Your 'silver buckshot' reference, sadly, makes me wonder if you have a stake in Angus King's projects, as that is one of his standard tag lines when trying to sell his product. I hope that's not the case. I hope it is simply that you are too set in your ways, or too stubborn to listen to opposing views and give them credence... For a stubborn man can relent, and will gain the respect of his peers by admitting he was wrong. Some of our legislators have done that very thing.
You belittle your fellow citizens who have spent months researching industrial wind by pretending to know what our motivations are. While scenic impact in this beautiful mountainous region is certainly an important factor to take into account, due to the potential economic fall-out and Mainers' hard-sought 'quality of place', the 'view' is simply NOT the issue of paramount importance to many of us. If it was proven to you that IW was NOT economically feasible, if we could show you research done by scientists and physicists that shows IW does NOT reduce dependence on fossil fuels or reduce carbon emissions-- would you then begin to question the intelligence of destroying our high terrain and fragile ecosystems? If we could show you that property values in the vicinity of IW plummet-- sometimes as much as 40% or more, would that convince you to stop touting Big WInd as 'silver buckshot'? Seriously, sir... we have access to FACTS-- facts that the people of Maine deserve to know. If you are a caring man and professional, surely you will avail yourself of the resources we can provide to you. Surely you can then put your title of 'doctor' to its best possible use, and begin to help heal the wounds this misguided plan has created across this wonderful state.
I urge you not to be stubborn-- not to be too set in your ways to consider information from sources other than the wind industry. They have millions of dollars at stake-- they are biased and have a huge conflict of interest. Please give heed to those who are selflessly trying to educate a public which has been misled and taken advantage of. Simply tell me what specific topics you would like to learn more about, and I will put you in touch with experts and reference materials. You will grow in the estimation of many if you keep an open mind and disseminate the facts rather than the Industry's propaganda. I look forward to working with you on this issue, if you so desire. I am not an expert, and have no title with which to garner respect. But I am an American and a Mainer who is committed to taking care of my native state and those who call it 'home'
Karen Pease, Lexington Twp., ME
Did Admin Assistant Childs really do diligent and comprehensive research? Or did he do the simple math, only? $40million added to tax base, so (at current spending levels) the mil rate would drop ‘x’ amount of dollars?
Did he contact Maine Revenue Services? Did he look at future projections of state assessment and revenue sharing? Did he consider the wind turbines’ accelerated depreciation? The loss of value to homes impacted by the turbines?
Or did he just give the minimum amount of information to voters…the information that said their property taxes should decrease if an industrial wind facility was built?
What disturbs me the most, I guess, is that—for the possibility of tax break of less than $900.00 a year, many Canton residents chose to ignore the possible health impacts this development would have on their neighbors and friends. For a few pieces of silver, the choice was made to avoid long-range thinking and planning. A moratorium isn’t a ‘no’ to wind development. It is a ‘wait…let’s do this right, because this is our home town and we all have to live here’. If a wind developer really wants to build in Canton, a six month ‘hold’ won’t stop him. Not with millions of our tax-payer dollars waiting to be obtained. How I wish, for your sakes, that you’d tried it so you could see, rather than succumbing to the worry of missing out on a temporary tax ‘windfall’.
I hope that Canton residents don’t regret giving up this opportunity to move forward with cautiousness and forethought. I hope Canton residents don’t allow their community to be divided based on the assertions made by a wind developer or any financial projections given without due diligence to the long-range picture. Please hang together. We’re all hurting financially and it’s easy to understand why we are tempted to grasp at any proposed lifeline that will make our budgets work. But over the course of several years, I’ve learned that this isn’t the way to do it. People --right here in Maine-- have lost their cherished quality of life, their health, their ‘comfort of home’ and their feeling of belonging to their community. Canton still has the chance to keep this from happening. I hope you’ll take that opportunity.
I live in a UT and that opportunity has been taken away from me by the Wind Energy Law. I’m envious of your ability to shape the future of your community.