Tuesday, December 28, 2010
In the January 2011 issue of DownEast Magazine, there is a section called “Maine In Your Words”. People from every corner of the country and every walk of life described their perspective of this state—they told what Maine means to them. The myriad responses were touching, and telling. Maine is simply unique. We already have what so many others are craving.
I feel blessed to be interwoven into the fabric of this wonderful region.
The DownEast article coincides with the submission to Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission of a revised permit application for the Highland Wind project. Just hours ago, I read the press release provided by Angus King and Rob Gardiner, the two principals of Highland Wind, LLC, the developer for the project. The statement is everything I thought it would be; pure public relations fluff.
The interveners and interested parties in this project have attempted to be factual when speaking to the public and the press about industrial wind’s huge impacts and negligible benefits. The developer, however, has continued to mislead the public.
As pertains to mountaintop industrial wind energy facilities, our exposure of many of the original ‘selling points’ as being deceptive has caused wind developers to change tactics and revamp their rhetoric. In addition, I believe efforts to educate the public have resulted in some of the changes in Highland Wind LLC's revised proposal.
The major difference to the application--outlined in the press release--is that 9 of the original 48 turbines have been removed from the project, which also results in a reduction in the amount of access road construction and permanent clear-cutting which will be necessary if the permit is approved. While I oppose--and will continue to oppose--this project in its entirety, I believe this is a victory for those Mainers who have been working to preserve our natural resources and quality of life, and promote common sense, economical decisions regarding our energy future. Before we ever went to public hearing to present our case, the developers recognized that their project was flawed. Make no mistake: It still is. But this is an indication that the developers acknowledge that fact.
I do, however, find it very ironic that Highland Wind LLC now proposes to forever protect the Stewart ridge from industrial wind turbines, when just a few short months ago, they were prepared to fight tooth and nail to have the original project approved in its entirety. Theirs is certainly a professional public relations campaign.
In the coming days and weeks, the permit application will be reviewed by the LURC staff, and the public. And when the time comes we will show why, based on sound science and economics, this project should not be approved. We are ready, and we are resolved. More importantly, we have the truth on our side.
Here is another irony. Former governor Angus King, project developer for Record Hill in Roxbury and the mountains in Highland Plantation, was quoted in that DownEast article. “Define the essence of Maine in a sentence.” Most people could not comply. Maine’s ‘essence’ is multi-faceted, whether speaking about its majestic ocean and mountain vistas, its pragmatic yet generous inhabitants, or its abundant and diverse wildlife. Some who responded to that question simply went on and on. And others, like Mr. King, managed to define Maine’s essence in two or three succinct sentences.
"It’s common sense, independence, understatement, and values. It’s one of the few places left that you can rightly say has character, both in its land and its people." Angus King
In this instance, I agree with Mr. King’s words, if not with his actions.
Here are a few more quotes from that article. The ‘Maine’ these people speak of is the Maine which those common-sense, independent and value-infused citizens our former governor spoke of are trying to preserve.
“A state that beckons us through serene natural beauty, rather than manufactured attractions.”
Bill and Jean Steer, Flat Rock, North Carolina
“Pappy’s description of Maine: ‘Son I have seen the whole world and thank almighty God for bringing me home again.’ ”
Thomas M. Gaubert, DeSoto, Texas
“It is where the toxicity of modern life washes off, and I recharge. I get to breathe air and hear sounds that are still as our maker intended. In Maine, life still makes some sense.” John Blankinship, Cornwall, New York
As a writer, defining the essence of Maine should come easily. I love this state, and I have an incredible affinity with my fellow ‘natives’, and with those who came here ‘from away’ because this state and her people are incomparable. But as I sit here digesting the new information in the Highland Wind LLC permit application, and as I recognize that life here in Maine will never be the same for me, whether we succeed in our opposition to this misguided plan for our mountains, or not, I am kerflummoxed. The ‘essence’ of Maine is too far-reaching, too remarkable, for me to define it in a sentence or two. But for tonight, I think one word will suffice.
Sunflowers and a tire swing in Lexington Township, Maine
Borestone Mountain from the Onawa Trestle, Elliotsville Township, Maine
Kayaking in Greenwood Pond, Elliotsville Township, Maine
Snow at first light--Lexington Township, Maine
Bigelow Mountain, 1950's (Franklin Sargent photo)
Peace at Pease Brook (home) Lexington Township, Maine
Saturday, December 25, 2010
The following letter was printed in the December 24th issue of the Waterville (Maine) Morning Sentinel. The author is a man whose home is approximately ½ mile from the three-turbine wind energy plant at Beaver Ridge in Freedom, which was developed--and is owned by--Patriot Renewables.
“Once again the “wind facts” get distorted by the press. In the newspaper’s Dec. 19 issue, another story was written as if it were the truth. It was stated that 1 megawatt of wind energy would power 750 to 1,000 homes. One might be impressed by that ratio — if it were true.
“What the writer failed to mention is that the capacity factor of wind energy is never more than 30 percent, even in the windiest of places. The wind doesn’t blow hard enough to get production higher than 30 percent of its nameplate over the course of a year. Applying the 30 percent factor to the author’s number gives us a more honest estimate of 225-300 homes per megawatt of installed wind power.
“Was this a mistake of a reporter not doing his homework, or was it a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader?
“The truth about wind power is even worse. On those many days when the wind doesn’t blow at all, no homes are powered by wind. Wind energy is not dependable, thus requiring a baseload source to be available and working at all times.
“Wind is only an expensive, feel-good supplement, requiring an operating reserve.
“Maine doesn’t need more electric energy; Maine needs cheaper electric energy. There are many less expensive and far more dependable solutions to Maine’s energy problems than wind.
“When researching wind development, one learns that developers aren’t mining the wind as much as they are mining our federal tax dollars. The property taxes that towns and counties get back from the turbines are just federal taxes being recycled — only in much smaller amounts.
“I call upon Gov.-elect Paul LePage and our new Republican-majority Legislature to practice the fiscal responsibility for which Mainers finally voted.”
Please feel free to click the Morning Sentinel link (above) to view the comments which were written online in response to this letter. I have met and spoken with Steve several times. He and his wife Judy have been involved in this conflict for longer than I have, and they have sacrificed much. They have earned my utmost respect and admiration. If nothing else comes of this battle to do what is right, and prudent, and rational--I will still be blessed. Blessed to have met a multitude of Mainers who are not so intimidated by Big Business and Big Government that they aren’t willing to make sacrifices for what they believe in. That they aren’t so cowed as to be unwilling to speak out. For speaking out is what we all must do—and what we haven’t done enough of in recent years. Below is my own comment to Steve’s Letter to the Editor of the Morning Sentinel.
The wind industry has, for many years, uttered the same rhetoric, over and over. "Wind is not 'the' answer, but is a necessary part of the mix." "Adding wind power will reduce our dependence on those who are plotting our destruction." "Wind is not the silver bullet, but it IS 'silver buckshot'." "Wind energy in Maine will help to bring our soldiers home." "Wind will contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions, helping to counter global warming." “Maine is the Saudi Arabia of wind.”
But are these statements FACTS?
Unbiased scientists and economists are saying ‘No’.
Versions of this 'sales pitch' have been added here by people commenting on Mr. Bennett's letter. Personally, I wonder if these writers have a 'stake' in the game... if they are either employed by the wind industry or by a contractor who is building a project, or if they are land owners who are hoping for monetary gain from an industrial wind development. Their answers are simply too pat to belong to independent thinkers. I have found that every time citizens with no financial stake in industrial wind take the time to do individual and independent research on this issue, they come up with the same response: Adding expensive and unreliable wind energy to the mix is not a practical thing to do. And when the enormous environmental and health-related issues are added into the equation, mountaintop industrial wind shows itself to be a very poorly crafted plan for this state.
Someone should not be discounted for protecting his ‘back yard’. This world and its problems are great, and humans simply do not have the capacity to involve themselves in every single issue which plaques our planet and its inhabitants. But it is only natural for us to protect our home turf. That is inherent in every living thing, whether human or wild. If WE do not stand up and make our voices heard when our health, quality of life, or financial stability are threatened, who will?
I admire those Mainers who have been diligent enough to do their homework, research this topic, and then have the courage to stand up in the face of corporate power once they discovered the facts. If NIMBY’s did not exist, then who else would care enough to take a stand? Who would ever question the standard tag lines which are fed us by a government which is controlled more and more often by corporate interests, rather than the interests of individuals? Wind energy is not all its proponents purport it to be. The facts, when discovered, will blow you away.
www.windaction.org, www.windtaskforce.org, www.realwindinfoforme.com, www.stopillwind.org, www.highlandmts.org, www.windfarmrealities.org
A Proud NIMBY from Lexington Township
It is Christmas. We all needed-- and hoped for-- a well-deserved break. But no 'cease-fire' has been called in this battle for Maine's mountains, its people, or our way of life. There is no vacation to be had from the need to make common-sense or fiscally responsible decisions. And so, we push forward. Maine Wind Warriors are diligent. Alert. We are determined to help educate Mainers about the plan to industrialize 360 miles our our pristine and unique mountains. Determined to expose those fallicies which we have been programmed to believe are the truth.
My thanks go to the Bennetts, and to those many other residents of Maine who are stepping up to the plate. You are excellent role-models for the rest of us. Great examples for people like... me.
Photo #1: The three-turbine Beaver Ridge (Freedom, Maine) wind development.
#2: One of the Beaver Ridge turbines, taken from several miles away, towering over the farms at its base.
#3: A view of one Beaver Ridge turbine, up close.
#4: The blade of one turbine as it sliced though the horizon as I drove up to the Beaver Ridge development. Although the photo is not very clear, perhaps, the 'live' view was startling, and made me appreciate the immense size of these machines.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Living off the beaten path as many of us do, it is not often that we are exposed to the cultural side of life. So when the opportunity arises to visit a museum or attend the opera or theater, I’ve always thought that it would be educational and enriching to avail ourselves of that opportunity. Therefore, I was quite pleased when, eight years ago, my mother suggested taking my seven year old daughter to see the Russian Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker.
Mum wondered if Josie-Earl would be old enough to appreciate it. I told her I thought so, and then went on to say that I had seen it once, myself, but I hadn’t been mature enough at the time. I was twenty-eight. I hadn’t quite made up my mind that “culture” was a good thing. Of course, I can always lay part of the blame for my inappropriate behavior on my friend Patty. She’s actually proud of the effect she has on me. When I accepted her invitation to see The Nutcracker, I should have known that I would revert to the ten year old I was when we first met in Mrs. Gilmore’s fourth grade class. And I did.
The first surprise of the evening came when we arrived at the Maine Center for the Arts. Hillbillies that we were, we made our entrance in slacks and sweaters, and were immediately surrounded by ladies in formal gowns and gentlemen in suits and tuxedos! Talk about feeling conspicuous! I immediately swatted Patty, who should have warned me about the formality of the occasion. Patty’s husband John was even wearing dungarees-- really nice, neat, new ones-- but blue jeans, nonetheless. I could feel the familiar tingle of hilarity crawling up my spine.
We found our seats, and were entertained with the sounds of the symphony orchestra as they tuned up their instruments. Based on the caterwauling emanating from the pit, I wasn’t at all sure they knew what they were doing. The pre-show clamor sounded more like the rumble of my husband’s belly after a good bowl of chili-- magnified by one hundred-- and the racket made by the neighborhood tomcats on a hot summer night. In all honesty, once the show began, the music was perfection. Unfortunately, it was too late to really appreciate it. For the dancers had emerged on the stage.
I didn’t know what The Nutcracker story line was about. I still don’t. It became a non-issue once the first male dancer pranced across my line of vision.
If a female ballet dancer is called a “ballerina”, what do you call a male ballet dancer? The word “exhibitionist” comes to mind.
I’m not a prude. I’m not a voyeur. And yet, with Patricia Anne giggling at my side, I felt like a combination of the two. With something like morbid fascination, I attempted to watch the talented star, while at the same time I tried NOT to look at him! Really! Is it breaking some ballet directorate to properly dress the dancers? Could not a single pair of baggy pants be found? Was I the only person in the audience who was slightly offended or embarrassed by the vaunting, leaping athlete? Perhaps if I’d dressed formally, I too would have been able to retain a dignified countenance. Instead, I had to fight the urge to rush onstage, cover the poor lad’s lap with my jacket and hustle him to the wings.
No, I certainly wasn’t mature enough to appreciate that particular form of art. Patty and I made utter fools of ourselves, although I felt the safety of anonymity since I lived two hours away from the Bangor area.
Poor John was beet red from the open neck of his classy flannel shirt all the way up to his hairline. He hates for John Q. Publick to know that he is associated with Patty and me. And so we cling to him all the more-- in retribution, don’t you see.
Luckily for Mum, Josie doesn't take after me. She knows how to behave in public. She liked the ballet; her only negative comment being that it was “too long”. She loved dressing up for the evening, too. There was no way my daughter going to get caught out like her poor Mama had! She went decked out in an emerald velvet and cream silk dress with green tights and snazzy shoes! Josie also loved spending the night with her Nanny. And upon arriving home, we were all treated to the spectacle of Josie attempting to imitate those great professional dancers. She pirouetted, flapped her toes right and left, and then performed a great leaping split, arms whipped out high to each side...at which time she smacked one hand against the corner of the wood stove, which caused even greater leaps, flails and bounds as she tore through the living room and kitchen in pain. She broke every blood vessel in her poor little ring finger, which swelled and turned blue from one end to the other.
Ah, culture. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Merry Christmas from The F.A.R.M., where there's Fresh Air and Room to Move!
Photos from Christmas, 2009
#1: Our tree
#2: My pal for the last 37 years, Patty (the awesome woman to whom Grumble Bluff is dedicated).
#3: Patty, me and Josie
#4: Patty's hubby, John, my pal for the last 24 years.
#5: Josie, Eli, Patty ("Talk to the hand!"), John, and Mr. Grumbles' legs
#6: The Peases at The F.A.R.M. (Guy was working, and didn't arrive for the holiday until midnight...)
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Three days from now, it will be Christmas Eve. Every year on that night, my children look forward to going sliding in the dark (often in their pajamas) down the little hill between house and barn with one of my best friends, Patty. It's a tradition. It's fun. It's something they do with Patty, and Patty, alone.
It is supposed to warm up to 40F today. The forecast calls for rain. We have only an inch of snow, at most, right now. Josie and Eli are bummed. Probably Guy is, too. But I have faith that there will be a white Christmas. And if not-- we'll find a new tradition for them to enjoy with Patty. Perhaps "Christmas Eve Puddle-Jumping".
To honor (and beckon) some of the 'white stuff', I am reposting a poem I wrote last year when I guested on Sugarloaf Mountain's television station, WSKI-TV. This is a (mostly) true story.
I grew up in the shadow of a monolith in Maine.
Second to Katahdin, it’s called Sugarloaf, by name.
The mountain had a history: What once was wooded slope
Became a destination far beyond its founders’ hope.
A group of friends led by a guy named Stub, and one called Amos,
Transformed that virgin landscape to a ski resort–now famous!
They cut a trail, and then some more. They added tows of rope.
To ease the hike to summit was well within their scope.
Soon other lifts were added; a T-bar here and there…
It was the dream of skiers, though, to sit upon a chair.
And so, the Mighty Gondola (a word that’s hard to rhyme)
Was built from base to hilltop, eliminating climb.
More trails were cut, a base lodge built, and chairs with funny names
Like ‘Sawduster’ and ‘King Pine’, and ‘Whiffletree’ soon came.
A Village South, a Village East, a Village called ‘The West’
Were moved up from the Valley and their shops were soon the best.
And as the mountain grew in fame–as folks drove up to ski–
They realized that Sugarloaf was where they longed to be.
These skiers, they decided, no longer would they roam!
Instead they’d build some condos and have a second home.
I grew up as the mountain did. I watched it change and grow
From simple, modest mountain…to making its own snow!
And since I was a local, since Sugarloaf was here,
It was expected of this girl, that I would be a skier.
But just because a trail is cut, and just because it’s there
That doesn’t mean each Kingfield girl should ride the Bucksaw Chair!
My old friend, Amos Winter…he said that I could learn.
He told me all I needed was skill to stop and turn.
He laced up my old ski boots, he measured me for skis.
He pushed me towards the teacher, and said, ‘It is a breeze!’
He donned his skis, he grabbed his poles, and went to run a race.
And left me with some strangers…this girl who had no grace!
We started with a ‘snow plow’. They said, ‘It’s trouble-free!’
But holy smokes! These people had never met a ‘ME’!
My legs were not designed like that! I couldn’t make them plow!
I wanted to get out of there! Not later, I meant NOW!
My tutor wouldn’t baby me…but I was only SIX!
I had no urge to learn about those skiers’ little tricks!
He wanted me to ride the ‘T’…but that was going UP!
He said I must go higher to ever win a cup!
But racing cup, I didn’t want. Nor trophy set with skis.
I wanted to get down from there. I asked him with a ‘please’.
Instead, he tucked the T-bar high underneath my thigh
And when it started pulling me, this girl began to cry.
How high up would it take me? How would I get back down?
I couldn’t do the snow plow from high atop the crown!
My chicken-livered nature combined with lack of grace
Made me drop the T-bar and land upon my face.
I thought I would be rescued, and carried down the slope.
But my instructor told me that I must learn to cope.
I told him I could cope quite well by riding in a sled!
I could tell the ski patrol that I had bumped my head!
He shook his head, displeased with me. His mouth turned into frown.
He said, ‘You must be braver! What goes up must come down.
‘I’ll meet you at the base lodge…down by the Schuss Café.
‘You’ll make it there quite safely…now, please…don’t take all day!’
He picked one ski up in the air…a stylish little move…
And pivoted to face downhill! Right there, my point he proved!
He didn’t make a snowplow! He schussed and slid away.
He wasn’t making pigeon toes, like I had done all day!
I knew there had been trickery…t’was lies that he had spoke!
Nobody else was trying that! This snowplow was a joke!
I tried to get down bottom, but each time I tried to stand…
My skis, they started sliding! Back on my butt I’d land.
And then, I had epiphany! I’d slide down on my rump!
Gravity was on my side! I had that teacher trumped!
But woolen pants are not the best for sliding through the snow…
It took a half an hour, for eighty feet to go!
At last, I was successful! The slope, it leveled out!
I’d made it down the mountain! I’d never had a doubt!
I stood up without sliding! I wanted then to cheer!
But first, I had to pick five dozen snowballs from my rear…
Well, Amos came and got me. He seemed a little glum.
I’m sure he’d had great visions of the skier I’d become.
But after my adventure on the crags of Sugarloaf
I think my Mr. Winter was thinking me an oaf.
And even though I never skied, that man remained my pal.
I often sat upon his porch and chatted with his gal.
In fact, t’was Alice who proposed that Amos teach me tennis!
He flinched at her suggestion…like I would be a menace!
But surely nothing could go wrong! By now, I was a teen!
And Amos wouldn’t tell me ‘no’…I’d never seen him mean!
I showed up bright and early, new racket in my hand.
I’d show my buddy Amos! At tennis, I’d be grand!
There was one little problem…my racquet loosely gripped
Became a swift projectile when from my grasp it slipped.
The Winters…they forgave me. They said it was all right.
They said they’d fix the window ‘fore the bugs came out at night.
Old Amos put his arm round me. That founder of the ‘Loaf
Said, ‘Karen, stick to writing! You really are an oaf!’
Friday, December 17, 2010
Rather than risk embarrassing any of my friends, who are incredibly good sports and wonderful, giving people, I decided to remove "A Highland Thanksgiving"-- a poem I wrote a few days ago while taking a few minutes off from my efforts to stop the plan to install 'industrial wind' on Maine's mountains.
The poem received a rather nasty comment, and such things always stir controversy. While I am okay with controversy over 'wind' related matters, I prefer to protect my friends from such.
So.... I'll have to come up with something else to post here. But... it won't be today. Today, I am off to be a bit more productive.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The last few weeks have been incredibly intense and fast-paced, and I apologize for not posting to GAG more often. As many of you know, my family lost our beloved mother and grandmother, Ruth Dolley, on November 28th. In addition, the Friends of the Highland Mountains held a big fund-raiser/comedy/music event in Kingfield on Saturday night. And then… there was Thanksgiving—and now, we are all preparing for the upcoming holidays.
I have a lot I’d like to say. I’m sure that comes as no surprise, as I’ve never been one to sit quietly in a corner as nothing more than window dressing or eye candy. Snort!!! Oh, fine! I’m neither, but I AM a woman who likes to communicate!
Last night I attended an ‘informational meeting’ on mountaintop industrial wind sponsored by the Somerset Economic Development Corporation. I respect the mission statement of this group. Who among us doesn’t want economic development, especially when times are so tough? But this ‘informational meeting’ was not a fair dissemination of the FACTS about industrial wind. This forum was designed to peddle Big Wind in Somerset County, based on the promises of significant monetary gain to the county. Promises made by developers of Big Wind.
Jim Beatty, the president of the SEDC, openly admitted his bias. He WANTS these wind developments—in Highland, in Bingham, in Mayfield and Moscow and Caratunk and Lexington and Concord. He supports TIFs (Tax Increment Financing Agreements) for these developers. I can’t speak for Jim-- a man whom I like--but my sense is that he can’t see the forest for the wind turbines. His goal—his organization’s goal—is to spur the local economy, and short-sightedly, he believes that goal can be met by catering to wind development in our county’s most wild places.
What I don’t believe he fathoms is what the long-term effects of hundreds of miles of 400’ tall turbines atop our mountains will be. I’m not sure he and many others yet understand that our future economy is directly tied to the fact that we here in Maine have what so many other places have already—and regrettably-- sacrificed. We have unspoiled vistas. Abundant wildlife. Open land for hunting, hiking, camping, snowmobiling, skiing. We can still find places where there is no artificial light on our horizon. We can still sit in silence.
Silence. And darkness. Do you realize how rare those two things have become?
I’ve been exasperated by the fact that wind supporters have unfairly labeled opponents of industrial wind as selfish people whose only concern is for their ‘view’. That is undeserved, and it is shameless and slanted propaganda. There is so much else about this wind plan which makes it a terrible idea. In a future posting, I will go into some of those other reasons, as I have in the past.
But what if it WAS just about the look and the sound of these colossal machines? What if? Is it really so bad, to oppose them for that reason?
Knowing that Maine does not need the power that wind will produce…
Knowing that wind energy does not significantly reduce carbon emissions…
Knowing that wind turbines have been proven to emit noises which are detrimental to humans’ health when those humans are subjected to them for long periods of time…
Knowing that wind turbines do not even need to produce electricity in order for the developers to cash in-- and that up to 60% of that ‘cash’ comes from our pockets in the form of multiple types of subsidies…
Knowing that without the proposed placement of wind developments on our pristine ridges, Maine would not need the $1.4billion transmission upgrade, which will cut a 400+ mile swath through 75 Maine towns-- and which will be paid for, in large part, by every CMPC customer, regardless of whether we need or use that power…
Knowing that ‘wind power’ is being used as the catapult for installing ‘smart meters’ at every CMPC-serviced household in Maine so that our electricity usage can be monitored and regulated, and knowing that the cost of this ‘upgrade’ is ALSO being paid for by us (from American Recovery Act Stimulus funds) and that many CMPC employees (meter readers) will lose their jobs once this installation is complete….
And knowing that Maine citizens lost their right to oppose wind development due to aesthetic value, even though that very ‘value’ is what brings vacationers and retirees to Maine, and what causes many of us locals to stay…
So, let’s take all that other stuff out of the equation. Let’s suppose that I, a NIMBY of the First Order (and proud of it!) decided to oppose industrial wind due, solely, to its look and sound.
I purchased my homestead for its lovely mountain views and its solitude; for its location away from all the hustle and bustle of town or city life. My husband and I sacrificed convenience for a quiet place in the country. Many of my friends and neighbors have done the same thing.
Many of my neighbors also make a living from the land. They are guides and sporting lodge owners. They are proprietors of diners which cater to both locals, and those ‘from away’. They are real estate agents; they are workers in the tourist industry. They rent camps to hunters and snowmobilers. Some of them don’t draw a paycheck from the land, but they support their families in other ways unique to rural life. They raise farm animals. They grow vegetable gardens to feed their families, to share with others, or to sell at local farmers’ markets. In many cases their livelihoods and their lives are dependent upon the natural resources which surround us.
If you haven’t had occasion to view the types of wind turbines slated for these mountains, perhaps you can’t comprehend their massive intrusion into our landscape. These things are HUGE. Not merely big, but staggeringly immense.
Their blade sweep is more than an acre and a half in size. Picture a Boeing 747. A jet that size would fit within the area though which those blades course.
These turbines are more than TWICE as tall as Maine’s tallest skyscraper—those tall buildings confined to within city limits. LURC has a 25 foot height cap for other structures in our unorganized territories. This limit, which we average citizens must build in conformance to, is due to the adverse visual impact such structures would have in these rural areas.
Wind turbines must be lit with flashing red lights. They are so tall that they create a hazard for air traffic and therefore, must be lit. And while you may not think seeing flashing red lights above the horizon is a big deal, it is. Our area of Maine is the very last place on the eastern seaboard—except for Key West—which does not have light pollution. We enjoy dark night skies, and a view of the firmament in all its natural glory.
During two summers in the late 1990’s, we hosted a teenager from New York City as part of the Fresh Air Kids program. I don’t think I ever appreciated what we had until I saw the night sky through the eyes of a child who had never viewed the stars, or seen a comet or a meteor or a constellation.
Recently, I had to travel to Northport for an awards ceremony, and I drove to within a few miles of the three wind turbines at Beaver Ridge, Freedom. Only three turbines, but the sight of those flashing strobes was an anathema in an otherwise bucolic setting. I could only imagine what it would look like to have our ridges peppered with those, all across the state.
And then… there is the sound. The NOISE. Noise like a jet passing overhead-- but perpetual. Endless. And that doesn’t take into account those noises which cannot be picked up by our human ears, but which can be felt imperceptibly by our bodies’ systems. I have met and spoken with Maine victims of Wind Turbine Syndrome. Men whose doctors have told them: “Move. Your health is at risk!” Women who can’t sleep, can’t relax, have heart palpitations and high levels of anxiety. Our DEP does not have sound standards which are designed to protect Mainers from turbines’ unique noises. Until they do, and until they enforce those new standards, a wind turbines’ sounds will absolutely be part of the equation when debating their presence in our neighborhoods.
What I’m saying is this: If the sight and sound of industrial wind turbines WERE the only objections we Mainers had, I think that would-- and should-- be enough to stop this disastrous plan for our state. When we include all the other scientific and economic reasons why wind doesn’t ‘work’, the answer is simple.
Industrial wind developments do not belong in the state of Maine.
Monday, November 29, 2010
My grandmother, Ruth Dolley, passed away today. My mother, my sisters and I were all blessed to be holding her hands in her final moments. I wrote what follows (and posted it on GAG) last spring, but I'd like to share it again. A great and loving and wonderful woman has gone on to her next big adventure. I'm full of sorrow, and yet, I am at peace. She was the best, and my life has been enriched because of my Mammy. March 13, 1916 -November 28, 2010
The Essence of Mammy.
It was Easter Sunday, and Steven and I took the kids to my parents’ home in Kingfield for a short visit. My grandmother, Mammy, has been living with Mum for the last year, but due to hectic, crazy schedules, it had been awhile since my two younger children had seen their great-grandmother.
Mammy is almost ninety-four years old. She has been blessed with good health for most of those years. But when I walked into the living room to greet her on Easter morning, I knew something had changed. Was changing. Her lips smiled—they always do—but her eyes told a different story. Mammy’s poor little body is getting tired out.
Over the years I’ve thought a lot about life and death. I suppose part of that is due to being a writer. I write about everything under the sun, and while putting pen to paper, I have to give the subject of my prose some serious thought. So… I often reflect on those elusive questions; the ones most people avoid thinking about. I’ve even talked to Josie, Eli and Guy about my eventual death. I want them to be at peace when I am gone. I want them to know that even when the time comes and my body fails me, I will still be here. Bodies aren’t indestructible. They are nothing more than tissue and water and calcium and sinew. They aren’t made to last forever. But the spirit? The soul? The essence that makes me, ME? Now THAT is something that is durable and long-lasting!
When my children do something unkind or boneheaded and feel that modicum of shame… that’ll be me shaking my head and urging them to think first, next time, and to try harder. When they help someone or act selflessly and feel that little burst of pride? That will also be me, giving them a hug and an ‘I’m proud of you, babe!’ It won’t matter that my body has turned to dust. The core being, the quintessential Karen, will always be around. You simply can’t erase the essence of a person that easily.
Mammy knows that the end is near. No one knows exactly how near. That’s up to God or biology, or a combination of the two. But at her age, and with her body wearing out, she knows.
But this is what I hope with all my heart she truly recognizes. I want Mammy to know that she will always, always be with us. She won’t ever leave. She can’t! Her soul is too strong, her influence too great, her awesomeness simply too awesome. I know for a fact that this woman will be hanging around these western hills and glacial lakes and the trails through our forests for a long, long time. Every single time I see a train or hear its whistle blow, I’ll think of Mammy, who first walked with me on the rails of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Every time I pick a raspberry and taste its warm sweetness, I will see her filling a basket from the bushes in Seboeis. When I play cards, it’s Mammy’s lovely, wrinkled hands I’ll see dealing them as I remember all the games of Solitaire she taught me. When I sleep at night, it’s under a quilt she lovingly made. When I do the mundane chore of vacuuming, I’ll remember how she drove all the way to Kingfield from Milo one rainy day, just to buy a vacuum for me at Jordan Lumber Co. because she knew mine had sucked its last hairball. When I write a poem, I’ll reflect on the fact that the very first one I ever wrote was a gift for her and my grandfather Grankie, because I couldn’t afford to buy them a Christmas present… and I’ll remember the pleasure those two old folks expressed when they received that simple gift. They gave me the confidence to write, and that has been a gift beyond measure.
When I see a pile of moose poop (and that’s a story in and of itself), who will I think of? Mammy. When I find a pretty rock? A funky mushroom? A wheat penny? That wonderful woman will be right beside me, oohing and ahhing as I look in wonder at the small treasure.
Mammy’s not going anywhere. Nope. Her body might be rebelling, but that lady’s spirit scoffs at such weakness. I’ve said it already, but it bears repeating: Ruth Dolley is awesome. The best grandmother a girl (or boy) could have asked for. I didn’t ask for her, but I got her anyway. How lucky, how blessed I have been. How blessed I AM.
Leaving us soon? I don’t think so! No way, no how. There will come a day when I won’t be able to easily lay my eyes on that lovely, smiling face, but I will never, ever have a problem finding her. Every day, in every direction I turn, she will be there. Because I love her, and because she loves me, she will always be right here beside me.
The essence of Mammy. Something that awesome won’t ever leave those of us who love her, those of us she’s touched.
I love you, Mammy. Forever.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Tom the Turbinator is hard at work, choosing the winner of the "Name that MADGE" contest. We await with baited breath for the results!
What does that mean, anyway? "Baited breath"? A baited hook has a worm or a grub on it. Not sure that's what my breath is like. Not even sure what a worm smells like. Hmmm...
Anyway, my point was, we're anxious to know who the winner will be of tickets to the benefit comedy and music event being held at Nostalgia Tavern in Kingfield next Saturday, December 4th. Seven p.m. So... come on, Mr. Turbinator. Let's hear what the Judge's Choice is! (And thanks for doing this for me, sweetheart. You're the best!)
While the main purpose of this event is to raise money for the Friends of the Highland Mountains, it also serves another purpose. The evening will give us the opportunity to relax and have fun with each other and our guests. As stressful as it's been to fight mountaintop industrial wind in Maine, we could use a break.
So please consider joining us next Saturday night as I stand before a crowd and... do whatever it is that I do. No one has quite figured out exactly what that is, but I've heard phrases like "crash and burn", "bomb, BIG TIME" and "take a nose dive off the stage" used as points of reference.
One more thing: I'd like to provide you with a link to the blog for the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power, where a dear friend of mine has posted some photos and captioned them with his Thanksgiving thoughts. Please feel free to take a look and a quick read. And if you have any interest in supporting those of us who are fighting Big Wind in Maine, joining the site is quick and easy. Please consider doing just that. There is no expense involved, but there IS strength in numbers!
Friday, November 26, 2010
I ruined Thanksgiving. Not just the holiday itself, but the whole weekend.
It was a quiet one, with only my husband’s mother coming to share a meal with us. It was planned to be as stress-free as possible.
I guess I blew it.
I’d asked the kids to each do one thing to help. I asked Eli to clean the living room--which included digging all his wayward socks out from the corners and underneath the couches and chairs, dusting, and straightening up. I asked Josie to vacuum ‘the kitchen and the living room’. Dinner was planned for noon. I made my first requests at eight a.m.
Eli began his chore shortly thereafter, but he got side-tracked. The TV, the video game, the computer… who knows, really? Josie, immediately upon being asked to vacuum, began with “I HATE vacuuming!” The morning went downhill from there. Each time I passed the living room, I spoke to the kids.
“Eli, have you dusted, yet?”
“Oh! I forgot!”
“Josie, please vacuum.”
“I WILL, Mama. I thought Grandma wasn’t coming until noon!”
Lather, rinse, repeat.
At ten-fifteen, I stuck my head into the living room, where my daughter was laying on the sofa, covered up with a blanket and watching the parades on the television.
“I WILL, Mama! When the commercial comes on!”
Off went the TV. Sulking girl stomped to get the Kenmore. Grumpy mother took the turkey out of the oven. Grrrr…….
She vacuumed, but she stopped exactly short of the door from kitchen to hallway by the stairs. From where I stood at the stove, I could see the cat hair and dust on the floor clearly, and I wasn’t the one pushing the vac to within inches of it. She studiously ignored it (I hadn’t mentioned the hall, after all) and moved to the living room. If that young woman can channel her stubbornness into something positive, she will go very, very far in this life. She will also be terrifying.
Grandma came, and we had a nice visit over turkey, stuffing, squash, and the rest of the trimmings. I cleared the table and began to take care of the left-overs. Steven’s mother asked if she could help with the dishes, and I thanked her but said ‘no’. Steven remarked that the kids could wash the dishes.
This time, HE was studiously ignored.
Even though our bellies were full, the kids didn’t want to wait for dessert, so the chocolate cream, banana cream and pumpkin pies came out. Then the table was cleared once more, and everyone got up from the table.
“Who wants to wash, and who wants to dry?” I asked my teenagers.
“I’ll dry. Josie can wash.”
“I don’t want to wash! I ALWAYS do the dishes!”
“Josie, wash the dishes, please.”
“YOU said that if one of us kids said the OTHER ONE should do a chore, then THEY would have to be the one to do it!” A statement I made ages ago, but obviously held onto as future ammunition by a girl with the memory of an elephant. A selectively cognizant elephant.
This arguing and whining was being conducted in front of my mother-in-law, and I was embarrassed. I couldn’t understand why my children weren’t somewhat shamed, themselves. I also thought perhaps my husband would step in and say something. Usually, when Papa speaks, the kids listen. After all, they always hear me bark. I’m just ‘old hat’, to them. But no. Nothing helpful from that quarter.
“Josie, wash the dishes! Eli, dry!”
I walked from the kitchen and went into the bathroom. I brushed my teeth. I waited a minute, hoping to hear the sound of running water, of dishes clinking. Silence.
I came out. No one was in the kitchen. No dishes were being washed. I walked into the living room, and there were my children, lolling on the couches, with Steven and his mother chatting in the opposite corner of the room. I saw red.
“You kids get out there NOW! You can bet that if Betsy’s or Gail’s kids were here, they’d be doing those dishes without even being asked! Shame on you! Now, get out there!” I pointed towards the kitchen. I knew I’d made a fool of myself in front of Steven’s mother, but what I’d said was 100% correct. Steven’s nieces and nephews are helpful, polite and hard-working young people, and when they come for a holiday meal, they leave the house in better shape than they found it. AND, they make the work look fun!
The dishes got washed. They got dried and put away. One glass got broken. Sullenness reigned. A pall hung over the house. Mum had hollered at her kids. On Thanksgiving. In front of Grandma. Ugh.
I apologized to my mother-in-law, but I had to qualify it. I had to talk about how hard it has been, lately, to get those kids to do anything helpful around the house. All the while, I felt guilty. I should have and could have washed those dishes, and allowed my children a few extra minutes to visit with their grandmother, whom they don’t see very often. Or, I could have waited until she’d left for home before making them do the task. But no. I had to have a minor meltdown. I had to act like a harridan. I’ll say it again: Ugh.
This morning—Friday—I announced that the kids were going to clean their rooms, today.
“How come?” Eli asked. If the question hadn’t been so sad or so aggravating, it would have been laughable. The rooms are pig sties--and have been, for months. But, I gave my reasons, anyway. The holidays were approaching. The rooms were disgusting. And I was going to be kicking both children out of the house next weekend and entertaining friends who will be coming for the benefit comedy show I will be performing in. Their rooms will be needed for guests.
Their eyes widened in horror. Not just a token straightening, then! When I said they had to clean their rooms, I meant… they had to CLEAN them! Top to bottom.
“And,” I looked at my husband, my mind’s eye seeing the detritus left behind after some of his most recent ‘projects’, “YOU get to clean the parlor!”
Yep, I’ve single-handedly managed to ruin Thanksgiving. And then some!
Peace on earth, good will to men. Yadayadayada...
Saturday, November 20, 2010
In Oz, its true—you’re upside down. Your seasons, they’re not right.
When we in northern climates sweat, you’re nippy in the night.
While we are drinking lemonade and fanning air around,
You Aussies dress in flannel, and wool socks do abound.
Of course, such things are relative. At ZERO, you are cold.
But thirty-two (to Yanks like me) just means the frost takes hold.
Your Celsius, our Fahrenheit—these numbers are a tease.
(But, here or there--when ice is formed--it’s cold enough to freeze.)
Those old dog days of summer (when northern girls like me
Take midnight swims in river pools when no one else can see)
Have faded fast to autumn, we race to winter’s chills…
When I am pulling woolies on, you’ll fire up your grills.
You bear a long hot summer while I survive the snow.
You hang out by the swimming pool. I watch the snow banks grow.
So, yes… you are quite backwards… or aptly, downside-up.
When you are downing cold ones, hot cider’s in my cup.
November is upon us. For us up here in Maine
The leaves have turned and fallen, and covered up the lane.
For Aussies there Down Under, the opposite is fact.
Your spring has sprung in autumn! (You guys are really whacked…)
Top Photo: Frangipani in bloom, Queensland, by Jack Ramsay
Middle Photo: Bald Mountain, New South Wales, by Ali g
Bottom Photo: Sunset in Darwin, by Dozy
(All I'm missing is an Aussie photo from CP...)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
********ROLLINS MOUNTAIN, LINCOLN, MAINE**********
My name is Don Smith. I am a native Mainer and I am 82 years old. I am a veteran and a grandfather. I was arrested and charged with criminal trespass at the Rollins Mt. wind project site in Lincoln on November 8. Five were arrested as we formed a human barricade to the site. Dozens of others braved the cold rainy November day to protest First Wind’s project.
Many people have asked me why I did this. Good question. I hope I give good answers. The first reason is that nobody seems to be paying attention to the negative aspects of wind power. Least of all is the complacent and complicit media in Maine. If we had just stood out there with signs, even the local reporter would likely have overlooked the event. By putting myself on the line to dramatize why this project is so wrong, it caught the attention of media far and wide.
It seems that most people understand utility scale (or industrial) wind power superficially, accepting wind power as “green” and “clean” and the panacea for solving energy and climate challenges. It is the result of years of masterful propaganda by the wind industry. Some of us have actually done a lot of research into industrial wind and have found huge negatives. By dramatically raising the visibility of the issue with the arrests, we are getting people to discover these negatives as the follow up dialogue transpires.
I have gained insights from my research into industrial wind. The wind industry would not exist without massive government subsidies. For example: the US Energy Information Administration reports that in 2007, wind received $23.37 per megawatt hour in subsidies; the next highest subsidy was $1.59 for nuclear. Those are our tax dollars going into something that doesn’t work.
We are putting up wind turbines in places where there isn’t enough wind to generate electricity. Look at the NREL map of wind potential in Maine. The area around Lincoln Lakes is all white. Look at the color code and white means “poor”. My guess is wind turbines are not about generating electricity, they are about selling a carbon tax in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates, raking in Production Tax Credits, and having the taxpayers pay the cost of construction.
Another reason I got arrested is to protest the proliferation of these industrial wind projects. I retired to live a quiet life on Caribou Pond, with a view of Rollins Mt. That ridge will have fifteen turbines, each 389 feet high. The total number of turbines will be forty on Rollins Mt. and the ridges of Rocky Dundee. An acoustics expert stated that the noise from these turbines will negatively impact hundreds of people on the lakes and nearby country roads, the same well-documented noise problems that have been experienced at Mars Hill, Freedom, and Vinalhaven.
I am not a NIMBY. I don’t believe these industrial machines belong anywhere in the rural landscape. Not in anyone’s yard---back yard, front yard, side yard. The noise issue is just one of many. If you could see the destruction of Rollins Mt. taking place right now, you would never consider this a “green” project. The DEP would fine me if I moved a rock at my home, yet they approved ridges being blasted away and scalped. They will never be the same. The Rollins project will blast away more than seven miles of ridges and clear-cut more than one thousand acres and install twenty miles of powerlines to tie into the grid.
That is for just one project. Without thinking through the ramifications, in 2008 the Legislature passed LD 2283, a horrible law to give favoritism to wind power. They chose an arbitrary figure of 2700 MW of installed capacity by 2020, which at a generous actual output of 25%, ends up being just 675 MW of intermittent, unpredictable, unreliable power. If Rollins is 60 MW, then it will mean 45 more projects like this to achieve that goal. Do the math. Based on the impact of Rollins, that means at least 315 miles of Maine ridges and mountains blasted away to install 1800 turbines; 45,000 acres or more of carbon sequestrating forest permanently clear-cut; and 1,000 miles or more of new powerlines. The price? Rollins’ pricetag of $130 million times 45 is a staggering $5.85 billion.
Why did I get arrested? To help bring forth what a folly this is and how damaging it is to Maine’s environment. Wind power is bad economics and bad public policy. It is far from “green”. The negative impacts of these projects on the environment and our quality of place far outweigh the pittance of good they might do for the planet.
Top Photo-Dr. Gary Steinberg
Seond Photo--Don Smith being loaded into cruiser (taken by Brad Blake, I think...)
Third Photo--Brad Blake
Bottom photo by Nick Sambides of the Bangor Daily News
This is an epilogue, of sorts. I spoke on the phone to Don Smith today, and heard a tale that was disturbing.
On November 9th, the day after the Rollins rally during which Mr. Smith got arrested, the Portland Press Herald published a very disturbing opinion piece.
Please read the PPH's "view" for yourself.
This is how the commentary started:
Protesters hoped that by stalling work on the Rollins wind farm in Lexington Township, they would draw attention to what they see as harmful development of Maine's wild places. Instead, they called attention to the self-centered and small-minded attitudes of some environmental activists and, ultimately, the ineffectiveness of bullying tactics used by groups...
And this is what Don told me this afternoon:
Don said the handcuffs were put on quite tightly before he was loaded into the police cruiser. After a few minutes, he complained that they were hurting and asked that they be removed. Of course, they couldn't do that. Law enforcement officers have standard operating procedures. Understandable, even if Don is an 82 year old man. He then asked if the cuffs could be loosened a little. An officer complied, but Don told me it felt like the officer tightened them, instead. Another cop noticed that Don's wrist was bleeding, and the gent informed them that he took medication to thin his blood. At that point, the officers decided to take Don to the hospital in Lincoln, where his cut wrist was bandaged.
Please read that opinion piece in the PPH. And then decide for yourselves who is bullying whom. Objective opinion piece from the newspaper which is owned in part by Governor Baldacci's brother? Gentle treatment of an old man who is standing up for what he believes? Who's the bully, here?
In case you've never noticed, I don't like bullies. Just thought I'd say...
Oh, and by the way.... readers left over 100 online comments to this op-ed containing factual information about industrial wind and the Lincoln project. Guess what? They've all mysteriously disappeared. Again.
We've got a big problem here in Maine. Luckily, we've also got Mainers like Don Smith.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
A group of concerned Mainers gathered on Monday at Rollins Mountain in Lincoln. A violent storm had moved into the region overnight. It was cold, driving rain poured down… and it was windy.
I used to love the wind…
The Friends of Lincoln Lakes have fought a long and hard and expensive battle. Several weeks ago, they lost this fight—at least to outside eyes—and First Wind was given the ‘go ahead’ by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection to start construction on their proposed project. Forty industrial wind turbines overshadowing the Land of Thirteen Lakes, and in the shadow of Mount Katahdin. And… for what?
Wind industry mouthpieces list off the negligible benefits and most Mainers… most Americans… heck! Most PEOPLE believe them! The industry claims economic benefits in the form of temporary construction jobs and increased sales for businesses in the ‘host’ communities. They tout the ‘free’ fuel of wind… while never mentioning the hugely expensive cost of building, maintaining and transmitting the power. Wind energy is anything but affordable, often costing up to three times more than conventional power sources. Wind industry execs state, shamelessly, that wind will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. They say it will bring American soldiers home. More falsehoods, but do most people question those statements?
To our detriment, we have been conditioned to believe that which is told us by people in positions of power or authority. Spin doctors know what buttons to push, what catch phrases to use… how to tweak the ‘fear’ nerve or the sympathetic heart strings. Corporate trainers work their recruits, teaching them how to answer questions with just enough factual information to be believable, while not divulging the complete TRUTH to the common citizen. I’ve listened to these prevarications and misleading statements for a solid year. The wind industry has it down to an art. It’s bull$hit, but it smells sweet. Wind industry trainees are even taught how to deal with people like me. You know… those thorns-in-their-sides, pains-in-their-asses who show up uninvited wherever they go; sitting in their meetings, asking pointed questions, demanding proof, asking them if they will put their claims in writing…. That kind of person. I’ve heard tell we even have a name. Folks like me are called “MADGE”.
I wonder what that means?
Below is an excerpt from the Portland Press Herald. It is a fine example of the ‘spin’ corporate executives glibly apply when the need arises.
“First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne called Monday’s protest unfortunate. “First Wind is pleased to move ahead with the Rollins Wind project and put people to work in northern Maine during a tough economy. It’s unfortunate a small group of renewable energy opponents have chosen to protest that, but we respect their rights to do so,” Lamontagne said in a statement.
“This project will put more than 200 people to work during construction, and generate enough clean, renewable power for more than 24,000 homes in Maine. We’re proud of that.”
First off: Wind turbines do not and never will produce their nameplate capacity because the wind simply does not blow steadily every day and night… 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Actual production levels vary from 11-33%. Those 24,000 homes that could be electrified number, in truth, anywhere from 2,600 to 8,000. That’s a significant difference, if you ask me.
Mr. Lamontagne, whose name means “the high mountains”, is currently involved in shaving the tops off ours. Blasting, excavating, bulldozing… whatever it takes to build the roads and clear the turbine sites on our iconic and pristine ridges. Notice his choice of words when describing those valiant Wind Warriors who stood outside in the driving rain to participate in their lawful right to peaceful assembly. He labeled the demonstrators as “renewable energy opponents”.
Perfect! Just what I would expect! If you want to sway citizens who have not yet been educated on the real truths surrounding the plan to decimate 360 miles of high terrain ridges in a state with a poor inland wind resource, that’s the ideal tag to put on people who are anything BUT opponents of renewable energy! The 'windys' are good at their jobs. I’ve got to give them that!
The thousands of Mainers who are fighting to stop mountaintop industrial wind are not opponents of renewable energy. We are opponents of waste, and stupidity. We are against corruption and greed. We oppose sending the lion’s share of our hard-earned tax dollars overseas to countries like China, where the wind turbine parts are manufactured. We don’t believe in sacrificing a quality of place which is precious and unique in order to line developers’ pockets with cash for a power source which is undependable and intermittent, which cannot be stored, and which is incompatible with our grid. We oppose the destruction of our mountains, the fragmenting of wildlife habitat, and the carelessness and uncaring attitude which has made many of our fellow Mainers sick and anxious and unhappy in their homes.
But… what are Wind Warriors for? We are for sensible and affordable energy practices which are proven by science and economics. We are in favor of conservation and efficiency. We are supporters of our neighbors, and champions of our natural resources. And we promote—and expect-- honesty and integrity when dealing with our government and those corporations who desire to do business in this state.
I wasn’t at the Lincoln rally on Monday, but my heart was with my fellow Wind Warriors. We’ll leave the ‘spin’ to the wind industry and the administration which has decided to allow them to pillage and despoil our land.
In the meantime, if you want the FACTS, please come see me and I’ll point you in the right direction. We are up against a Goliath, but we are armed with the truth. And here in Maine, where the brave are denounced and branded as ‘renewable energy opponents’, we will not back down. We will not give up. We will not be intimidated.
We will WIN!
Top Photo: demonstrators at Rollins Mountain, Lincoln, Maine
Middle Photo: New turbine pad under construction at Rollins, with Maine's highest mountain, Katahdin, in the background.
Bottom photo: A silly pic sent me by a friend in Mississippi
It's time for a contest! The Friends of the Highland Mountains are putting on a comedy and music event to raise money for our expert witness fees, which we will need when the time comes for our public hearing. Please given me your suggestions for what the acronym "MADGE" stands for... and the winner, chosen by the Turbinator, my friend Tom (if he says 'yes' when I ask him, which he will... won't you, Tom?)will win two tickets to the event on December 4th at 7:00. Come on... this wind stuff is CRAP! Let's turn it into some FUN!!! Just put your suggestions in the comments section. Winner will be chosen on November 27th. MADGE: Meddling And Dangerous Gigantic Environmentalist??? oooh... not as easy as I thought!!!
Monday, November 1, 2010
What follows is a letter to the editor written by Cheryl Lindgren of Vinalhaven Island. Hundreds--if not thousands--of Mainers are opposing the governor's plan to install 2700 megawatts of land-based industrial wind by 2020 (that's nameplate capacity, not actual production ability, which is closer to 675 megawatts). But few of us can write from Cheryl and Art Lindren's perspectives. They live in the shadow of George Baker's Fox Island turbines. They are Mainers in the trenches. And they are standing up and speaking out-- in the hopes that someone will give heed to their voices. The Lindgrens and others like them have been blocked at every turn as they've tried to get relief from the daily assault to their senses created by the high, low and ultra-low frequency noises and the strobe-like shadow flicker produced by turbines in their backyards. I cannot do their story justice... but I can give them a forum and help their voices to be heard...
A year ago Fox Islands Wind began operating the wind turbines on Vinalhaven. A community effort that began with eager anticipation is now tarnished. As a neighbor of the wind turbine farm this year has been a journey from hope to anger and disgust. Fox Islands Wind continues to misrepresent and mislead our community while using its authority to bully state regulators on the issue of violating noise standards. Our experience has forced me to look into the deeper issues of industrial wind - the technology, the economics, and the politics - and the investigation has been an uncomfortable journey that has brought my once honeyed-eyed vision of easy, green power to the conclusion that industrial wind energy is, at present, BAD science, BAD economics, and BAD politics.
I add my voice to the growing numbers of Mainers that are demanding a moratorium on wind projects all over Maine. Jonathan Carter, once an advocate for wind power, travels statewide to expose the arrogant destruction of mountaintops. David P. Corrington, Registered Maine Master Guide whose new web-site, realwindinfoforme.org provides information about Grid Scale Industrial Wind Power Development nationwide and Industrial Wind in Maine. And there are the many voices of the residents of Camden, Montville, Bucksfield, Thorndike, Jackson and Dixmont who have repelled the efforts to locate windmills in their towns.
These voices, and countless others, are shouting truth to the half-truths, misrepresentations and distortions of wind developers. As wind energy proponents continue to demand that we provide them with unprecedented resources and that we waive basic, traditional rights to discussion and debate; as wind developers undermine local autonomy, enjoyment of property, and health and safety; as they thumb their noses at environmental compliance and demand that citizens forego normal, time-honored mechanisms of due process, we must ask a simple question: How many more years will citizens be expected to pay, and what rights will we have to surrender to benefit an unproven technology and the smoke and mirror economics that seem to be the foundation of industrial wind?
George Baker, as Vice President of Community Wind at the Island Institute and as CEO of Fox Islands Wind must be held responsible for the damages inflicted on our community. His Island Institute Community Wind website says, “We will demonstrate how wind projects in the coastal area can be sited without adverse environmental and aesthetic impacts, and provide long-term economic benefits for local residents.” Their failure to demonstrate success has placed our quiet community on the front pages of the nation’s top newspapers, including the New York Times. How can the Institute’s formula of 70% acceptance be deemed a success? What happens to the other 30%? Dismissed? Excused? Collateral damage? Where do our neighbors find the money that has been stolen from them, stolen in lowered property values that they will never be able to recover? What happens with the increasing medical bills that families must shoulder from the stress of living with days filled with tortuous light flicker and sleepless nights of low frequency rumblings? How can the Island Institute justify Fox Islands Wind’s preposterous use of the ridiculous efforts of the National Renewable Energies Laboratories efforts at compiling data from summer residents with an experiment that started in October? How can anyone call this past year a success when Fox Islands Wind refuses to share financial information to show exactly where the purported savings is coming from and what the projections for the next several years might be?
I know that the Baker/Island Institute strategy is to wear the neighbors down. That is not going to happen. It gives us strength to know that, while Baker, the Island Institute and their cronies congratulate themselves in their boardrooms they should be aware the nation is watching them with a jaundiced eye.
After this long year I can only shake my head and say: Shame on the Island Institute, shame on Fox Islands Wind, shame on all the other wind projects that are changing the face of Maine for the profit of a few ex-governors, ex-Public Utility Chairmen and ex-Harvard Professors.
Cheryl Lindgren, Vinalhaven