Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Battle brewing in rural Maine over wind farms

States like Connecticut and Massachusetts, which account for 70 percent of New England's population, are turning to much larger but less populated Maine to build wind farms. And while it could mean a huge boost in the state's economy, some fear it will destroy Maine's beauty, with a number of residents worrying that "more wind turbines will turn the woodsy state into New England's utility closet," Jon Kamp reports for The Wall Street Journal. (WSJ photo by Craig Dilger)

"Maine already leads the region with more than 400 megawatts of wind power installed, according to the American Wind Energy Association, which said 1 megawatt of wind power can cover about 290 homes," Kamp writes. "Recently signed long-term contracts with utilities in Massachusetts and Connecticut could more than double that output in the next few years if the projects all come to fruition."

A 2008 state law "passed under former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci set aggressive goals for adding wind power while simplifying the regulatory process in much of the state," but Republican Gov. Paul LePage is a wind-power critic, Kamp writes. "Larry Dunphy, a Republican state representative for a swath of rural Maine, recently posited a future when 'you won't be able to climb a mountain without seeing blinking red lights and spinning turbines.' Dunphy "sponsored a bill this year that he said would give some sparsely populated unorganized territories, which lack local government, more say over wind projects. The proposed change didn't make it through the Senate."

"The Maine wind buildup also has raised concerns about the eventual need to strengthen transmission links to southern New England, to lessen the risk of curtailing that power due to grid bottlenecks, and debate about who will pay for them," Kamp writes. (Read more)

No comments: