(With credit and apologies to Jerry Maguire.)

The scene: Gov. John Baldacci has just finished speaking in Augusta, at the first Maine Wind Energy Conference. He steps down from the dais; an aide hands him a cellphone. It’s the people of Maine calling. They exchange greetings and …

Gov. John Baldacci: Yeah, what, what, what can I do for you? You just tell me what can I do for you?
Maine: It’s a very personal, a very important thing. Are you ready?
Baldacci: I’m ready.
Maine: I wanna make sure you’re ready, governor. Here it is: Show me the money. SHOW! ME! THE! MONEY! Doesn’t it make you feel good just to say that! Say it with me one time.
Baldacci: Show you the money.
Maine: Oh, no, no. You can do better than that! I want you to say it with meaning, brother! Hey, I got Rosa Scarcelli, Libby Mitchell and Steve Rowe and Peter Mills on the other line; I bet you they can say it!
Baldacci: Yeah, yeah, no, no, no. Show you the money.
Maine: No! Not show you! Show ME the money!
Baldacci: Show ME the money!
Maine: Yeah! Louder!
Baldacci: Show ME the money!
Maine: Yes, but, governor, you got to yell!
Baldacci: Show ME the money!
Maine: I need to feel you, John!
Baldacci: Show ME the money!
Maine: John, you got to yell!
Baldacci: [screaming] Show ME the money! Show ME the money!
Maine: Whatcha gonna do, John?
Baldacci: Show ME the money!
Maine: Congratulations, you’re still my governor.

End scene.

So, what’s the point of this metaphor? To illustrate the one thing missing, so far, from the state of Maine’s embrace of wind energy: the money. While its clear that subsidies, tax credits and other incentives are helping build turbines, the fiscal benefit to taxpayers and communities is murky.

There will be job creation and upfront spending — $125,000 per megawatt of installed capacity, according to estimates — but this is a short-term benefit accrued during turbine construction. Over the longer-term, local revenue from property taxes is a certainty, but this only benefits residents and landowners where turbines are built.

The larger, macro-benefits to Maine remain unclear. Will turbines reduce the costs of electricity to consumers and industry? If we become a chief exporter of renewable power — Gov. Baldacci says Maine could account for one-fifth of the country’s renewables someday — how will the state reap the benefits?

It seems a surcharge on energy production is appropriate, or some system of revenue-sharing akin to Alaska’s Permanent Fund. The fund, managed by the state, provides residents an annual dividend from money raised from oil exploration. This year, the check was for $1,305. For years, we’ve heard about Maine’s wind potential. Well, looking across Western Maine, this potential is quickly being realized.

Now is time to talk about details. The place to start is showing ME the money.

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