Wind vote a savage blow to energy policy


“It’s in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply – the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power, by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, safe nuclear power.”

– President George W. Bush, State of the Union, Jan. 23


– Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, Jan. 24

By a 6-1 vote Wednesday, the Maine Land Use Regulatory Commission stunned many by rejecting multi-million dollar wind turbine projects on Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain in Western Maine, despite its own staff’s recommendation to approve it.

Endless Energy’s development was in the works for nearly a decade, and faced severe opposition from adjacent landowners, environmental advocates, scientists and others. For every argument favoring the projects, wind power opponents went twice as far to find reasons to scuttle them.

LURC apparently listened.

Perhaps, now that gasoline has dropped below $2 per gallon in some places in Maine, LURC believed this state shouldn’t embrace alternative energies. Perhaps the recent warning from the Maine Public Utilities Commission about the gouging price of the Northeast energy grid fell on deaf ears.

Or maybe, this winter’s unusually warm temperatures influenced its vote. Whatever the reason, LURC’s decision to reject the sensible and necessary $130 million Redington and Black Nubble projects could restrict the progress of alternative energy production in Maine by decades.

LURC’s vote – the only supporter of the projects was Steve Wight of Newry, the owner of the Sunday River Inn & Ski Center – is a clear statement that Maine lacks the vision, and political will, to change its energy habits.

Critics said the Redington and Black Nubble turbines would have scarred a remote paradise, and opened a Pandora’s Box threatening all of Maine’s peaks with unwarranted development. It was also said that other sites exist, better suited for wind power development than these two peaks.

Except Redington and Black Nubble were the only developments proposed, and perhaps the last. Why would TransCanada continue its $270 million wind power project on 2,900 acres in Kibby Township, for example, given there is now serious doubt that LURC would approve it?

We support wind energy, and supported the Redington/Black Nubble projects. Together, the planned turbines could have generated 250 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, equal to 50,000 gallons of oil. They could have cleaned pollution from the air, here at the end of the “smokestack.”

Instead, they probably have been tossed on the scrap heap of good ideas.

In the rhetoric about Redington/Black Nubble, opponents voiced many other scenarios under which windpower development would be acceptable. We strongly urge them to make these options their new agenda, and attack it with vigor equal to their campaign against Endless Energy.

After all, as the president said Tuesday night, developing and accepting methods of alternative energy production is concern, and priority, for all Americans.

Doesn’t that also apply to Maine?