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.