Gov. LePage is right in questioning the government subsidies and viability of industrial wind power projects on Maine mountains. But he fails to take into account that other energy sources, including fossil fuels and nuclear, also rely on government subsidies and other kinds of preferential treatment. Furthermore, large-scale, industrial energy production, whatever the resource, requires large-scale energy investments and destroys our environment.
What is lost in the exchange between industrial wind advocates and the fossil fuel interests favored by the governor is that we do have less destructive alternatives.
Energy conservation through building weatherization, more energy-efficient modes of transportation and more clustered community designs can reduce the total amount of energy that we consume. We need to insulate our homes, use more hybrid vehicles, use railroads and mass transportation whenever possible and reduce suburban sprawl.
Small-scale, localized energy production methods, such as solar panels and small windmills on homes and other buildings, would produce at least some of the energy we need at the place where it is being used, cutting down on the need for expensive investments for electric transmission facilities, while feeding any excess into the electric grid.
Large-scale industrial energy projects mainly benefit the large corporations that promote them as our only energy alternatives. They are not our only alternatives. If we pursue smaller-scale, less-destructive alternatives, we will do more to combat global warming while having fewer other negative effects on the earth on which we depend for our very existence.
Wind power, no free lunch
Free power from wind sounds almost too good to be true. Unfortunately, it is — there’s no free lunch.
Consider the wind project at Passadumkeag Mountain. Within an eight-mile range of the mountain, there are at least eight beautiful lakes affected, lakes classed as significant or outstanding by the 1987 Maine Wildlands Lake Assessment. Scenic views will be affected, sound and light pollution introduced and wildlife habitat, including those of bald eagles, degraded and fragmented.
If landowners like me want to sell, property values may decrease, perhaps by as much as 15-40 percent, as has happened in other states. Furthermore, tourists avoid wind tower areas.
Who benefits from the Passadumkeag Mountain project? None of the electricity will be used in Maine. It’s contracted to an out-of-state company and will be sent to a Massachusetts electric company to boost their green quotient. Profits go to a private equity company in Texas, which invests in oil and natural gas as well as wind. As for job creation, short-term construction jobs exist, but long term, very few Mainers will find technical jobs with wind companies.
When I travel, people I speak to universally love Maine. However, soon I may hear, “Oh yes, I used to vacation in Maine, but now there are so many wind towers that it’s not pleasant and pristine like it used to be.” Maine’s primary industry is tourism. I resent out of state companies stomping all over us, damaging our economy, our land and our wildlife to generate profits.