Comments by Steve Thurston

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A moratorium on wind power is needed

The hospitality and tourism industry has been strangely silent about the impending devastation to Maine's "Quality of Place" at the hands of the wind industry. Ms. Gray's thoughtful piece hopefully is the first cry in what will become a load roar from tourism dependent businesses throughout the state.

The Harraseekett Inn is one of the most prestigous hotels in the state, and was named one of the top 500 hotels in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine in 2010. When the Harraseekett Inn talks, the legislature should listen.

A bill calling for a moratorium on wind development has been proposed by Rep. Larry Dunfee. Putting the brakes on wind power in Maine's mountains until the impacts that were ignored by the former governor and his expedited wind law can be fully examined is the right thing to do. Please call you legislators and tell them to support the wind power moratorium bill.

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You say Mr. Stowell "exaggerated the negative effects"?

How is it possible to exaggerate the negative effects of the cumulative impact of 2700 MW of wind turbines? To reach this goal will require anywhere from 1400 to 1800 monstrous, strobe lit, arm waving machines towering over 360 miles of Maine's precious wild mountain landscapes. And its not like the wind industry will stop at 2700 MW. At that point all resistance will have disappeared and mountains will continue to be assaulted until every possible ridge is occupied by turbines.

Maine as we know it is on the verge of being destroyed by the wind industry, and people who think this is the right thing to do are either in bed with the industry, care only about paltry short term benefits without a second thought to the value of Maine's majestic mountains, or are simply ignorant of the facts and believe that wind turbines will solve some make believe crisis.

While Maine is saving the planet with 2700 MW of wind power, China will build 750,000 MW of coal burning power plants, importing much of the coal from the US. That fact should hit people like a 2x4 upside the head if they would only stop and think about it for two seconds. Maine is flushing itself down the toilet with wind power.

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Well said, Mr. Stowell

The wind turbine invasion will undoubtedly come to be seen as the worst mistake in Maine's history unless immediate steps are taken to stop it. Saddleback is just one of dozens of projects announced for the western mountains.

Turbines are planned for Roxbury, Byron, Rumford, Dixfield, Canton, Woodstock, Temple, Sumner, Buckfield, Newry, Bethel, Reddington, Sisk Mountain, Highland Plantation, Bingham, Lexington, Moscow. The state is under seige by the wind industry, thanks to former governor Baldacci and his genuflecting legislature. The current administration and newly elected legislature are well positioned to listen to the valid arguments of wind power opponents.

Citizens must make themselves heard over the din of wind power's false prophets - the power brokers who have masterminded this fiasco - Angus King being a prime example. Likewise, NRCM has abandoned its mission to protect Maine's environment and now talks illogically and hypocritically about supporting the wind industry while safeguarding Maine's "Quality of Place". NRCM, you can't have it both ways.

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Tip of the iceberg

This is very troubling on a number of counts. DEP rules require that evidence of financing must be demonstrated in the application. The evidence submitted, and relied upon by the DEP in granting the permit, has been shown by King and Gardiner's statements and actions to be apparently inaccurate. This is a serious matter, because by signing the DEP application the applicant swears that the information submitted is true.

Furthermore, the draft permit issued by the DEP contained a standard condition stating that evidence of financing must be demonstrated prior to the commencement of construction. When the final permit was issued 5 days later, someone had changed the word "construction" to "operation", meaning the project could be constructed without satisfying the clear requirements of the law.

This improper condition gave King and Gardiner the ability to begin construction in 2009, making them eligible for a 30% rebate on the entire cost of the project under the federal stimulus program, a no-strings attached gift to King and Gardiner from the US taxpayer that would be worth $40 million. When this conflict in the language of the permit was pointed out to DEP, no one admitted responsibility for this language change, other than an admission of a "drafting error".

There is nothing in the record to indicate who requested this change or why this change was agreed to. When the DEP was forced to admit that an improper condition was included in the permit, they asked King and Gardiner to submit evidence of financing. In response, King and Gardiner submitted a letter from a Chicago bank called Northern Trust, indicating that Bayroot, the majority partner in the Record Hill Wind project, had sufficient funds on deposit to build the project, but that the money was not committed to the project and could be withdrawn at any time.

When appellants challenged this letter, King and Gardiner agreed to shut down construction, and to provide additional evidence of financial capacity prior to resuming - which has not occurred .

With the news that King and Gardiner have now applied for a federal loan guarantee, it is clear that no committment to finance this project has ever existed. One of the conditions of the loan guarantee program is that without the guarantee the project could not be built.

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Maine transmission costs are just the beginning

Not only will Maine share in the cost of CMP's $1.5 billion dollar upgrade, according to the ISO chief Maine will also share in the cost of $12 billion in upgrades throughout the ISO-NE grid to allow the constantly fluctuating output of wind turbines in Maine, Massachussetts, New Hampshire and Vermont to be fed into the grid. Transmission lines must accommodate 100% of the nameplate capacity of wind generators, even though the turbines rarely produce at 100%, and average only 25% of their potential. This "overbuilding" of transmission is a massive hidden cost of wind power that is intentionally ignored by the wind industry. Not one wind developer testified about the MPRP during the PUC proceeding. They didn't have to. The fix was already in, thanks to mandates from the Governor's Expedited Wind Law, and other legislation passed in recent years which rewards wind power at the expense of the rate payer.

CMP is guaranteed a 12% rate of return on the MPRP transmission investment by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Rates for delivery of electricity are going to soar, because demand for electricity is flat due to the slow motion economy. Meanwhile wind generators need massive subsidies to cover the cost of putting turbines built in foreign countries on top of Maine's ridges (far from the load centers that drive demand). At the moment the grid is purchasing electricity for $44 per MW in the day ahead market (google ISO LMP Map). The cost of mountain top wind generated electricity is well over $100 per MW, not counting transmission upgrades. Taxpayers make up this difference in subsidies. The enormity of the wind power scam is almost incomprehensible, but for anyone who takes a few minutes to peel the layers, this onion is rotten to the core.

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long winded but short on facts

D Wilson, blaming Len Greany for the business climate in Maine does not respond to his questions. Wind power opponents are not "the same people" who took a position on any of the issues you mention. They are people who have taken the time to understand that wind power is a taxpayer scam promoted by big business and unthinking government. Naomi Shalit's recent three part series accurately described how this happened in Maine.

Despite the assurances from Angus King that his turbines will replace fossil fuel generation on a one to one basis, the truth is the grid cannot even make use of the electricity these things generate due to their wild swings in output from one minute to the next. Until there is grid scale storage which these uncontrolled generators can feed into, the grid will ignore wind turbines when planning for day ahead capacity, and will rely on the controllable generators to provide the reliable response to predictable demand that FERC rules require. You might as well build ferris wheels on the mountains (which you would probably be in favor if it created a few jobs). People who blindly trust the wind industry's propaganda need to do more homework.

The towns that have adopted responsible turbine ordinances, Montville, Jackson, Dixmont, and many others using the benefit of a moratorium to study the issue such as Dixfield, have done so to avoid being the victims of improper siting of these monstrous machines. Why should Rumford become the next Mars Hill, Freedom, Vinalhaven, and now Upper Hot Brook Lake at Stetson II? The wind ordinance committee should be commended for doing a great job of researching this issue.

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Saying we should produce all

Saying we should produce all of our energy here is like saying we should produce all of our oranges here. On second thought, if we get the US taxpayers to help pay to build and heat the greenhouses....why not?

Seriously, wind power is not a good use of tax dollars. $5 billion in subsidies will be required to install Baldacci's dream (nightmare actually) of 2700 MW, but 2700 MW of wind, at a 25% capacity factor, will only provide about 4% of the 16,000 MW electricity used by the NE grid on an average day. Wind power is nothing more than a symbolic feel good gesture in terms of our use of electricity.

If that same $5 billion was used for energy improvments to Maine homes it would equal about $10,000 per household. Imagine how many jobs that woulld create! Imagine how much foreign oil could be saved.

As it is, there are no programs in place that match the aggressive push for wind power. Angus King likes to say that wind power is not the silver bullet, it is like a silver shotgun pellet. But where are the other pellets? 95% of all renewable energy subsidies are going to wind power. Compared to the spending of our children's and grandchildren's borrowed tax dollars to deploy useless wind turbines built overseas, which actually increase the use of fossil fuels and emissions due to the stop and go inefficiency required to regulate the erratic output, conservation and efficiency programs - which everyone agrees are the most cost effective ways to reduce fossil fuel consumption - get almost nothing.

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More mysteries with the wind law

In addition to the map, another key component of the wind law, for which there is no explanation, is the use of a 20 year old report entitled "Maines Finest Lakes". This is a partially completed report that has been gathering dust at the State Planning Office since it was created back in the 80s. No one on the Task Force seems to know who was responsible for its inlcusion in the Wind Law, but if you proposing a wind project near a lake or pond which is one of the 66 lakes that was given a score of "outstanding" for scenic beauty, the proximity of turbines requires a more careful analysis. If you are not on the list, the visual impact of turbines cannot even be considered by the DEP in its review. A serious problem with the use of this report is that, by its own admission, due to time and money, some criteria in the report were never completed and many ponds are not even scored in the scenic category. Such is the case with Roxbury Pond, a jewel of a lake which far exceeds the criteria by which the scenic inventory of a pond was supposed to be judged. Rob Gardiner, partner with Angus King in the Record Hill wind project in Roxbury, was director of NRCM when the report was created. He is credited as a participant on a similar report done at about the same time called Maine's Wildland Rivers Assessment Gardiner already had his wind measurement towers up in Roxbury, a mile away from Roxbury Pond, when the wind law was being created by the Governor's Task Force on Wind Power. He testified to the Task Force (his testimony is available on the Task Force website) that visual impact of turbines on the character of the area should not be an issue for review. Is it possible that Gardiner dusted off his copy of Maine's Finest Lakes, noticed that Roxbury Pond was not on the list of the 66 finest lakes, and then suggested that the report be used in the law, virtually guaranteeing that his project would be bulletproof from objections to the intrusion of 22 turbines on the panoramic beauty of the vistas from Roxbury Pond? We may never know, because there is no record of how that report got included in the law.

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Kurt Adam paved the way for wind power

In clearing Adams of wrong doing, AG Mills said that the PUC has no jurisdiction over wind power. She could not be more wrong. While head of the PUC Kurt Adams presented numerous reports to the legislature and regulatory agencies recommending strategies for encouraging the sacrifice of Maine's treasured mountains for the benefit of the wind industry. These recommendations became laws that removed 50 years of environmental protections and reversed decades of hard fought conservation efforts involving hundreds of millions of private and public dollars. What AG Mills could have truthfully said is that while head of the PUC Kurt Adams paved the way for the wind "gold rush" that threatens every ridgeline in the state, and that First Wind merely rewarded Adams for a job well done by giving him a job that tripled his salary and promised him millions more in future benefits. Assuming First Wind survives its current fiscal problems no one should be surprised if Baldacci joins Adams as Vice President when he leaves office.

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Baldacci should introduce

Baldacci should introduce emergency legislation to rename Maine from "Vacation Land" to "Industrial Waste Land". 2700 megawatts of land based wind turbines by the year 2020 will require 1800 1.5 MW turbines, the most popular model in use in Maine, made by GE, owner of NBC, CNBC, MSNBC (notice all the subliminal messages showing slowly spinning turbines in wide open grasslands on those channels?). Do you think GE might have a lobbyist or two in Washington? How about 150?

Roxbury is the tip of the iceberg. There are 50 wind projects the size of Roxbury on the wind industry's drawing boards. There will not be a horizon from Buckfield to Quebec that is not dominated by monstrous arm waving machines.

As Mr. Dwight says, our grandchildren are footing the bill for this unprecedented assault on Maine's landscape. If only the money being used to subsidize wind power in Maine were instead spent on Conservation and Efficiency programs. Each household in Maine would be eligible for $14,000 in incentives for insulation, new windows, a 95% efficient gas boiler to replace the 60% efficient oil fired dinosaur in most basements. The savings in foreign oil for home heating could easily reach 50% with such simple, cost effective improvements.

Instead, we are destroying Maine with thousands of wind turbines, hundreds of miles of 35' wide roads blasted across fragile mountain ecosystems, and hundreds of miles of new transmission corridors to remote turbine projects. When the goal of 2700 MW is reached the combined total of the electricity from all these turbines will only generate about 4% of the daily demand of the New England grid, not when the grid needs it, and often times replacing existing renewable electricity already in place. So much for saving the planet.

Is there any doubt about where Baldacci sees his next job? His former chief of staff and former head of the PUC Kurt Adams is now VP at First Wind. I bet he will put in a good word for his former boss.