From Friends of Maine Mountains: 20 Facts About Wind Power … Why “Spin, Baby, Spin” Is Nonsense

Friends of Maine’s Mountains  284 Main St., Ste. 200  Wilton, ME  04294
The Facts about Wind Energy Development in Maine

(Friends of Maine’s Mountains is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization with IRS 501(c)3 status. Visit us on-line at http://www.friendsofmainesmountains.com or e-mail to info@friendsofmainesmountains.com.)

“If CO2 is the problem, wind power is not the solution.”

“EVERY operating, multi-turbine, wind facility in Maine that has been sited near people has significant, unresolved disputes over noise and shadow flicker. Continuing to site wind turbines using the same standards that have caused conflict assures that the problems will grow in number.”

When asked if they think wind-generated electricity is good, affordable, green, useful, and necessary most people will say ”Yes, of course.” But the fact is, none of these things have ever been proven. Wind- generated electricity has been effectively shielded from scrutiny by marketing and lobbying, with no obligation to verify industry claims. Wind-generated electricity has high impact and low benefit to Maine’s economy and environment. Following are 20 truths the wind industry does not want you to know, 20 reasons to take a closer look.

1. Wind generated electricity will not “get us off of oil.” Less than 2 % of the electricity in Maine and in the U.S. comes from oil-fired generators. We use oil for transportation and heating. Switching to electric vehicles and electric heat would increase electricity consumption radically, and consumers could not bear the cost of the most expensive form of electricity: wind.

2. There is no shortage of electricity. Maine has 4300 megawatts of electricity generation capacity, though we only use around 1500 megawatts on average. The grid forecasts less than one percent annual growth in demand for the next decade. No urgent need exists to sacrifice unique resources using taxpayers’ money to produce a small amount of surplus electricity.

3. Maine is already one of the cleanest states in the nation in electricity generation, even without wind turbines. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Maine ranks first in non-hydro renewable electricity generation per capita, per gross state product and as a percentage of total electricity generation. We also have the highest renewable portfolio standard in the U.S.

4. Wind does not always blow. By necessity, conventional sources of electricity: nuclear, biomass, natural gas, hydropower, etc. will remain the primary suppliers of electricity to the New England grid well into the future. Wind-generated electricity cannot, by its nature, replace or displace these “baseload” generators. Intermittency and low power density restrict it to a role as a marginal supplier of electricity.

5. Maine’s entire landscape will be forever changed. The Legislature’s 2,700 megawatt goal for land- based wind generating capacity will require the construction of as many as 1,800 wind turbines, each around 400-450 feet tall on over 300 miles of rural Maine’s mountains and hills.

6. Too much to invest, too little to gain. The expansive conversion of rural Maine lands to wind development would provide no more than 5% of New England’s electricity needs, even under the most optimistic scenarios. It would have no noticeable impact on New England’s fossil fuel consumption. The intermittency of wind gives wind power an effective output around 30% of its listed capacity, or 810 megawatts of our 2,700 megawatt goal. On New England’s 33,000 megawatt grid, this is a drop in the bucket – especially, when considering the hundreds of miles of turbines needed to achieve this.

7. Wind generated electricity is high impact and low benefit. The entirety of Maine’s 2,700 megawatt goal could be supplanted by the construction and operation of A SINGLE, moderately sized, conventionally fueled (e.g. natural gas) generator, at 10-15% of the cost.

8. Wind turbines on Maine’s mountaintops will not enhance our energy security. Virtually all of the fuels used to produce electricity in New England are sourced from North America. ALL are readily available in North America.

9. Wind will not get us off of coal. Placing wind turbines on Maine’s mountains will not reduce coal consumption or stop mountaintop removal mining. Coal is used in other parts of the country as a reliable (albeit dirty) baseload fuel, with some states deriving 75% of their electricity from coal. Maine has only one small coal-fired generator, powering a Rumford paper mill, accounting for about 1⁄2 percent of all of Maine’s electricity generation. Comparatively speaking, New England is a minor user of coal.

10. Placing wind turbines on Maine’s mountains will not improve Maine’s air quality. EPA figures indicate that the burning of fossil fuels in Maine is a minor source of the state’s particulate pollution. Most fossil fuel pollutants blow into Maine from population centers many miles away.

11. If CO2 is the problem, wind power is not the solution. Placing wind turbines on Maine’s mountains will have no impact on climate change. Using the wind industry’s optimistic claims, 2700 MW of installed wind capacity in Maine could only reduce total U.S. CO2 emissions by less than four-one- hundredths of one percent (0.04%.) Globally, there would be no measurable impact.

12. Wind turbines require sources of NEW conventional generating capacity. The 2010 New England Wind Integration Study stated that, “Wind’s intermittent nature would require increased reserves, ensuring that there are other generation options when the wind isn’t blowing.”

13. Wind power integration will require an unprecedented expansion of transmission capacity.

The president and chief executive of ISO-New England, said in 2010 that large scale integration of wind power into the New England grid “would require spending $19 billion to $25 billion for new transmission lines.” This cost would show up on our electric bills.

14. Wind-generated electricity will not guarantee lower electricity rates. Wind industry officials often state that they cannot compete with low natural gas prices, which are forecast to remain low and stable for years to come. The wind industry’s insistence on a federal Renewable Energy Standard is, by itself, proof that wind-generated electricity cannot compete with other sources.

15. Without government mandates wind does not fly. It is said that wind should be a “part of the mix”; but its part would be insignificant. Demand for wind-generated electricity is created by government policy, not by market demand. Without favoritism from government policies, the wind industry could not survive. No end to the dependence on federal taxpayers and favorable government policy is in sight.

16. Wind projects are the most heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Through various federal programs, wind generated electricity is subsidized, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, at a rate of $23.37 per megawatt hour (MWh). Compare this to natural gas and coal, which receive 25 cents/MWh and 44 cents/MWh, respectively.

17. Wind developments create very few permanent jobs. Despite boasts of creating Maine jobs, wind projects produce mostly temporary construction jobs lasting fewer than six months. Wind projects are NOT long-term investments in jobs. Construction jobs are always welcome, but publicly-funded construction jobs should produce necessary and useful projects, like roads, bridges, and critical infrastructure. Also, state mandates to purchase higher priced wind-generated electricity could lead to lost jobs or fewer available jobs in Maine.

18. Most of a wind project’s expenditures occur outside of Maine – primarily, overseas. Property values of most new wind developments in Maine are sheltered from property tax increases by tax increment financing (TIF) deals, leaving Mainers to pay a sizable share of the wind projects’ taxes.

19. Health issues result from every existing wind power project. EVERY operating, multi-turbine, wind facility in Maine that has been sited near people has significant, unresolved disputes over noise and shadow flicker. Continuing to site wind turbines using the same standards that have caused conflict assures that the problems will grow in number.

20. Maine’s “Quality of Place” will be undermined. The 2006 Brookings Institute Report warned Maine to avoid sprawl in order to protect its “quality of place.” Maine’s wind development policy actually encourages rural sprawl, threatening Maine’s distinctively unique character and future prosperity.

Citations at: http://www.friendsofmainesmountains.com/learn/20-facts-about-wind-power-with-citations

Friends of Maine’s Mountains is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization with IRS 501(c)3 status. Visit us on-line at http://www.friendsofmainesmountains.com or e-mail to info@friendsofmainesmountains.com.

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