Disappointment at Fox Islands Electric Coop Annual Meeting

Chip Farrington put the audience to sleep. George Baker talked about what a fabulous job he has done to stop the controversy over the turbine noise. Not a single mention was made of the Maine Public Utilities Commission response to the complaint filed by turbine neighbors. As a matter of fiduciary responsibility, the officers should have highlighted for ratepayers the Maine PUC request. The agency is seeking the same information that neighbors have been asking for a year and a half: data that FIW refuses to produce on the underlying economics of the project: we want to know, are the wind turbines saving ratepayers money or not?

For more detail, read the interview in Maine Business Daily with former Gov. Angus King, now a wind power developer, who highlights a visit to Vinalhaven over the 4th of July, “Waiting for the Winds of Change” and comments by a few readers that set the appropriate discussion. Click, ‘more’ to read the comments.
Mainebiz’s July 11 interview with former Gov. Angus King about his Highland Wind project prompted the following letters to the editor.
Read the Q&A, “Waiting for winds of change.”

To the editor:
I have just read the July 11 Mainebiz interview with Angus King, “Waiting for winds of change.”
I find it incredible that Angus King has so little concern for the property rights of Maine people. Like many of the other wind developers who were neither born nor raised in Maine, the need to make money overrides respect for Maine people, their way of life and the environment in which they live. It is this disrespect for property rights and failure to honor Maine culture that have characterized his and Mr. Gardner’s attempt to get their wind project in Highland permitted.
My wife, Jenn, and I are owners of one of the two “summer camps” Mr. King keeps referring to in his public comments. We are the closest to the turbines (less than a half mile), but I guess Mr. King does not consider us to be neighbors as he states, “…there are virtually no close neighbors”.
The noise impact from an industrial wind project on one’s ability to enjoy a summer camp is the same as if it were a year round residence (defined as being occupied seven months of the year).
Curious as to what those impacts would be, we hired an acoustics engineer who specializes in industrial noise to help us with that determination. Here are some of his comments:
“…..Occasional loud whumps would punctuate the irregular, industrial wash of sound, day and night-as blades encounter expanding, fast-spinning turbulent wakes from upwind turbines. It’s totally inappropriate.
“At your residence, and others nearby, it would sound like a rumbling jet that never lands or an active train yard, 24 hours a day. It’s totally inappropriate. If it were a bar, or even an airport, it would never be allowed to operate this way — it would be shut down during sleeping hours.
“At a mile to two miles, the noise becomes all low frequencies, which penetrate the homes with little or no reduction. It would be audible outdoors and inside 24 hours a day. It would sound like a throbbing, pulsing ‘sneaker in the dryer.’ … It would degrade the character of the area for a generation. The pristine, wilderness character would be wiped out for the lifetime of the facility. It’s totally inappropriate.”
The following is a comment from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife regarding Mr. King’s Highland wind project, “the collective wildlife concerns detailed above demonstrate that this is not an appropriate locality for an intensive wind energy installation such as that currently proposed by Highland Wind Power.”
Jenn and I have owned our property in Highland Plantation since the early 1980s. We worked hard to be able to buy the property, and built our family cabin over the years with family and friends. The views of the Bigelow Mountain range from our front deck are majestic. The cabin has been used as a base camp for fishing, hunting and hiking in the surrounding areas, and particularly, the Bigelow Preserve, only three miles away. We swim and kayak in Flagstaff Lake. Jenn and I plan to use the cabin for several months during the year after we retire in just a few years.
The wind power project that Mr. King is proposing will remove mountaintop vegetation and cut deep into the mountain bedrock, resulting in the destruction of the natural flow of the watershed that feeds our cabin.
I suggest that Mr. King treat the fragile mountain ecosystems in Maine with a little more reverence and realize his wind power project just isn’t going to work in the Highland Mountains. He should also treat Maine folks and their properties with a little more respect. We all have a right to the use and enjoyment of our property.
Greg and Jenn Perkins
Holden

To the editor:
I thought Mainebiz was supposed to be a magazine that is interested in promoting economic development in our state, but the article on Gov. King’s wind project runs contrary to the supposed goal.
The article misses the point that wind power is unreliable and very expensive when compared to hydro and natural gas alternatives. Turbines also frequently catch fire and spread flames to forests.
There is a solid reason why manufacturers associations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oregon and elsewhere claim their industries will not be able to compete when they are required to buy electricity from wind power. And why do you suppose Gov. LePage, Maine’s most pro-business governor in decades, is opposed to wind? It’s the cost factor. He has looked into it. Wind does not come close to offering what alternatives offer. The only markets for wind power are those that have been imposed by politicians with their mandates.
Clyde MacDonald
Hampden

To the editor:
Angus King says he spent the weekend on Vinalhaven and didn’t speak to a single person who had a problem with the wind turbines. He might have reached out to neighbors of the turbines who have been in a dismal year and a half battle consuming tens of thousands of after tax dollars to protect their peace and quiet and property values from the infernal noise these machines make.
King is a visible supporter, as principal of an industrial wind developer, of a technology that could prove to be one of the great boondoggles of our times. What he and others didn’t count on in the early 00’s, was the massive supply of cheap natural gas. It is hard to see how wind will compete with a domestic supply, the equivalent of two Saudi Arabia’s.
Intermittent wind turns out to be hugely expensive unless subsidized by government. That means us.
Of the many problems with wind your interview covered, it seems that people living close to turbines are the least of King’s concerns. I would have loved the opportunity to talk to him on Vinalhaven last weekend, but I didn’t see him. Nor did I see him at last week’s hearing on wind noise regulations, held by the Bureau of Environmental Protection in Augusta where he might have listened to me.
I attended and spoke at the event, even though it is unlikely that new regulations to emerge to protect neighbors of wind turbine farms would apply to Vinalhaven. At my own cost, I took time to warn regulators that tough new regulations are needed so there are no more Vinalhavens in the state of Maine.
One neighbor of the wind turbine farm at Freedom, sobbing about the impacts of industrial wind to her nearby home and family, could scarcely make it through her testimony. Afterwards, she told me that she really, really didn’t want to become emotional but that so much of what she values has been ruined by the turbines. Her children can’t play in their backyard. On some nights, her house pulses with the same frequency as the noise of the nearby turbines.
As a neighbor of the Vinalhaven wind turbine farm, it was disturbing for me to discover that wherever wind turbines have been sited too close to where people live, there are guinea pigs like me, thrown under the bus by Maine industrial wind developers. My home, about 3,000 feet from the nearest turbine, is too close. Parts of my property are much closer. We would want King Solomon to come and judge for himself, a wind turbine farm whose preliminary consultant report included details that should have been shared with neighbors but weren’t. I don’t have a direct line to King Solomon, to ask what kind of punishment would be just, but if former Gov. King wants to buy my property at a fair price pegged to its value before the wind turbines were constructed, I am all ears.
Alan Farago
Vinalhaven

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