Sunday, February 27, 2011

In the Words of a King-- "It's all about the View"

Former governor Angus King and his partner, Rob Gardiner have once again submitted a permit application to LURC for a 39 turbine grid-scale wind energy plant on Highland’s mountains, at the gateway to the Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail. Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission determined Highland Wind LLC’s application was complete on February 23, 2011, even though that application is NOT complete, as evidenced in news articles in Friday’s Kennebec Journal and Portland Press Herald.

Mr. King is wasting our tax-payer money by continually submitting permit applications which fall short of the requirements for completion. LURC staffers have already spent countless hours reading each of his applications. The Commissioners have already had to rule that HW LLC’s first application be pulled and the ‘expedited clock’ stopped. If ordinary citizens can read an application and determine that it is lacking, I assume that Mr. King, Mr. Gardiner and their attorneys know the same thing.

I suppose the applicants hope to have the missing data and documentation and road crossing permits in hand before LURC rules on whether or not to grant them a permit for their project—but that’s not the way this works. The burden of submitting a completed application rests with the applicant. Not with the LURC staff. Not with the interveners in the case. Not with the citizens of Maine. And yet, it is we who are paying the price while this limited liability development company tries to get its ducks in a row. The Section 1603 cash grants for these projects will expire in December, and those no-strings-attached grants are huge. Mr. King and Mr. Gardiner will lose out on millions of free tax-payer dollars if they do not receive approval, and soon.

So they play games and waste our resources in the hopes that it will all work out okay for them in the end.

I predict that it won’t. I believe that Mainers are waking up to the realities of this scheme to line over 350 miles of our mountain ridges with expensive and intrusive industrial turbines which produce power that is unreliable, intermittent, cannot be stored, and for which our grid was not designed. I believe that the people of Somerset County have the courage and the strength of character to stand up and make common sense decisions. Sound science and economics do not support the notion of mountaintop industrial wind in Maine.

The following quotes are from Angus King, taken from his video, “A Vision for Maine—Inauguration 1995”.

"We certainly can do tourism better. Just to our south, to the north, and across the ocean are millions of mobile, affluent and time-pressed individuals who would love Maine if we could get them here, first. But we must think strategically about tourism-- spreading out the seasons and the locations where we welcome visitors. In the process of rebuilding Maine, we must never compromise our environment... Our final natural resource is our QUALITY OF LIFE. We have what the world wants... creative and hard-working people, an unspoiled natural environment and a civil society that works..... We share a common heritage. We share a common stewardship of the land. We share a common pride in an extraordinary place called Maine....and the best of Maine-- a land of deep woods, jagged coasts and people of integrity--will endure and flourish."

The former governor wanted to encourage tourism. “We have what the world wants,” he said. I urge Mainers to visit First Wind’s ongoing destruction of Rollins Mountain and Rocky Dundee in Lincoln, in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin. Then picture the same thing happening all across this state. Estimates for this little rural corner of Somerset County are for upwards of 300 turbines. Everywhere we look, there they will be. Huge. Unnatural. Inefficient, intrusive, foreign-made machines. In every direction, we will see evidence of greed. Evidence of folly. Evidence of corporate-run state policies, rather than common-sense rule by the People. A tourist attraction? No.

This is another quote from Angus King, recorded in a meeting last May in Skowhegan.

"There's not a sound issue, there's not a health issue, there's not a bird issue, there's not a wildlife issue… No issues of wetlands.... we're not 'removing' anything-- we're MOVING...when you build a road, as I say, when you build roads, you cut out the high spots and fill in the low--we're moving a lot of earth, but nothing's being taken away from the mountains…”

This is an excerpt from the Highland Wind LLC permit application, submitted to LURC in December, 2010.

“A total of approximately 3.1 miles of existing logging roads are being rebuilt, and
approximately 15.1 miles of new roadway are being constructed. In addition, turbine sites must be graded to approximately level with no more than three percent cross slope. Table 12-1 below outlines the cut and fill requirements for the different portions of the Project. Roadway construction along with the 39 turbine pads results in the earthwork volumes listed below.”

Those turbine sites which must be ‘graded to approximately level’ are on the tops of Stewart, Witham and Bald Mountains, and Burnt and Briggs Hill. The total ‘cut’ from the project is estimated at 1,518,000 cubic yards. That’s more than 90,000 dump trucks’ worth of earth excavation for this one project. The ‘fill’ is listed as 1,438,900 cubic yards. It’s being blasted and excavated from the mountains, and then used to build 18 miles of slope-side roads and turbine pads. But, no. It’s not being ‘taken away from the mountains’.

And again from Angus King last May, when speaking about the Highland project:

"So-- it's all about the view. And the view is important because the Appalachian Trail goes over Bigelow....Stop by Mars Hill! It's cool! It really comes down to-- are we going to say 'no' to a half-billion dollar infrastructure project producing renewable energy because of the VIEW? I think that's the question. The interesting thing about this project--we're involved in some others-- the others have some different issues, but this one is really the view. And, you know...people throw in a lot of other stuff, but it's really about the view. What will the impact be? Well, it'll be visual--you judge.”

Mr. King, despite his continual assurances that this project is ‘all about the view’, knows better than that. His patronizing attitude is intended to gain him some support for his project. He hopes that if he repeats that tag line often enough, Mainers will look upon those of us who are opposing his project as selfish elitists who would put our ‘view’ before anything else. We who care about the big picture, and who have spent months researching the facts about industrial wind, oppose this project—and others—for a variety of reasons related to economics, the environment, residents’ healthy and quality of life, and Maine’s unique ‘quality of place’.

I once thought former governor King cared about those same things.


  1. "unspoiled natural environment." LOL. And now the views (and the natural environment) are basically stupid. Oy.

  2. Karen, Mr. King is one of the biggest hypocrites I have seen in my long life here in my beloved Maine. When Governor, he never missed a photo op or a sound bite to extoll the beauty of Maine, its uniqueness, its natural resources. Now, this man seeks to blast away, scalp, and level hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of the Highlands Mtns. so he can enrich himself with taxpayer subsidies and selling Enron-inspired RECs. There is so little wind available that this project is not about renewable energy and saving the planet as King rhapsodizes, its about his and Rob Gardiner's desire to make quick bucks in the wind scam.
    Make him eat his own words, Karen!

  3. Gutsy, Gritty and Great, Karen. Tell it like it is. It's time we all take off the gloves. This is a fight we can't afford to lose. I can't believe I voted for Angus King. What a traitor he turned out to be.

  4. Mr. King, and his partners, are liars, hypoctites, and theives.

    I can say that withtout fear of liable--because it's only liable if you can't prove it.....and we CAN prove it!

    I currently have a running list going of the lies and missrepresentations that have been presented to the State and the people by Mr. King and his friends. It will be interesting to read the latest permit application and see how many more I can find....


  5. Thanks, guys, for weighing in.

    Please keep up your own excellent work. We've got to continue to educate Mainers about the FACTS regarding mountaintop industrial wind.

    Common-sense people will do the right thing. I have faith in that. If only we can reach enough of them with the facts before it's too late...

    For the mountains,

  6. Good stuff, Kaz. Is it true that these guys still receive government subsidies, even if they don't produce one watt of electricity?

  7. Hey, Jack. :o)

    Thanks for stopping by.

    There are several ways to answer your question. The short answer is: Yes, they most certainly can.

    For example, check out this link, from your former "neck of the woods".

    Our federal government has also funded a 'cash grant' program... sometimes paying up to 30% of the cost of a wind development, once permitted, with no strings attached. On a $240 Million project like the Highland one, that's a healthy chunk of change to receive without having to first produce one megawatt of power.

    There are also Tax Increment Financing programs (TIFs) wherein a town our county refunds a wind developer a large portion of their property taxes... whether or not they produce any electricity.

    There are many other subsidies for wind, too, such as the Renewable Energy Credit (REN) trading scheme. Here's one place where folks can learn about RENs:

    It's quite a gig, and here in Maine developers are standing in line, waiting for their hand-outs from hard-working Mainers (and Americans) who are finding it hard to simply exist in this harsh economy.

    With facts, diligence and luck, we can bring common sense back into play in our state energy policies, by having those policies set by scientists and economists, rather than corporations and politicians.

    Thanks for doing your own bit, Jack. It gives me-- and many others-- encouragement to know that there are others all around the world who are engaged in this topic.


  8. P.S. One thing about REN's... they don't require any proof of displaced polluting power. Since wind power is intermittent and variable, its production does not displace an equivalent amount of other sources per kW of installed capacity (which is the whole purpose of REN's, to begin with...)

    Just thought I'd say...


  9. Thanks Kaz. Very interesting reading. And very disturbing. This isn't about the environment. It's about money.

    We all know that some people have no moral fibre, and we all know it's not what you say it's what you do that shows your true colours. Like, driving a bus across America with your family - just for the sake of it. Shows real concern for the environment.

    Keep up the fight. Don't let these guys line their pockets at your (and your family's) expense.