Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Essence of Maine

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.

Maine is….home.

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


  1. Well, I think I had to go back and correct grammatical mistakes and run-on sentences and over-used adjectives 11 different times in this posting. Phew.

    CP? Jack? Be gentle, okay?


    Good night, all.


  2. Yes Karen; Maine is....home.

    Thank you.


  3. Nice one, Karen! Happy New Year to you and all wind warriors. The essence of Maine is totally worth the fight. All the best.

  4. Hi DC and K. Thank you for popping in. And thanks for your own contributions as wind warriors.

    Happy New Year to you, too, K-- and give my best to the Mister. :o)


  5. Great post, Kazza. Keep at it. Just flicked an article your way from my local rag back in Scotland - their wind turbines were recently churning out 2.5% of their rated capacity. Yup -just two point five percent. Efficient or what!? Really worth ruining people's lives for.

    Keep up the good fight!


  6. Hey, Boy. :o)

    Good of you to pop in from Down Under.

    Two point five percent, huh? How remarkable! I can't wait to read (and USE) the article. Thanks for flicking. :o)

    In Highland Wind LLC's press release, they stated that their project would produce enough power to energize 44,000 homes. Sounds great, huh? They have consistently given such numbers, without the media questioning them. That is an estimate based on the turbines' 'rated capacity', if the turbines produces 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, with the wind at optimum speed (if it blows too hard, they have to shut them down, and if it doesn't blow at all, then... well. You get the picture.)

    However, we know that Trans-Canada's Kibby project and First Wind's Stetson project had production figures which came in at under 20%, and the state-owned turbine at the University of Maine at Presque Isle has consistently been below 12% of rated capacity.

    And yet... no one is questioning the claims which wind developers make. And usually, our letters to the editor and our commentaries quoting these numbers never make it to print.


    Yep. We've got a long haul ahead of us. But... we have the truth on our side, and I have to believe that the truth trumps big money, power and influence in the long run!

    Okay... gotta go read that article. Thanks, Jack!