There are only a handful of wind energy projects in Maine, but just those few have been so badly placed that it is remarkable how much anger they have generated. The Forest Ecology Network works to “protect the native forest environment of Maine” and publishes The Maine Woods newspaper. The January 2012 issue is “devoted to the industrial wind power in Maine” and contains 32 pages of some of the angriest writing I’ve ever come across. It starts with an introduction by Jonathon Carter, the executive director, that chronicles his realization that wind energy is a scam and pulls no punches. Here’s an excerpt:
This issue of The Maine Woods is focused on exposing the lies and propaganda of the industrial wind developers. First Wind, Independence Wind, Iberdrola, Trans-Canada, and Patriots Renewable etc. have all exploited the fear of climate change in order to pocket billions of citizens’ tax dollars. These folks don’t care about climate change. They are not ecological thinkers. They do, however, represent the epitome of the corporate greed that has engulfed this country and the western world. These mountain slayers and profiteers are scam artists. With
their money and bribes, they have bought public policy by buying politicians and gained access to the treasury through outright grants, loan guarantees, and production tax credits.
Ouch. And completely true. As this scam and the damage it causes grows the resulting anger grows, and this introduction conveys that very well.
The introduction is followed by 13 essays on a variety of topics related to wind energy and all of them are well-written, suitable for a general audience. If you want a fairly quick summary of the issues from an opponents’ viewpoint this issue is well worth your time. Highly recommended.
The Maine Woods, January 2012 issue
One of the arguments put forth by wind energy proponents is that the success of wind turbines in Europe proves that any opponents in North America are just nimbys or whatever. Of course these proponents never specify what constitutes “success”. Cutting emissions? Saving on fossil fuels? Reducing their dependence on evil foreigners? Putting more money into the pockets of their friends?
Anyway, anyone who has actually followed the wind energy story in Europe knows that it has become, to say the least, quite controversial there for all the same reasons it is controversial in NA. For some indication of just how controversial you only have to read some of the articles and comments in their newspapers. As an example, a couple of weeks ago James Delingpole wrote in the Telegraph about “The Best Article on Wind Farms You Will Ever Read” by Kevin Myers. If you want to get a real indication of how the “success” is going down in Europe you might want to read both of these.
Delingpole, The Best Article on Wind Farms You Will Ever Read
Myers, Win Hearts but Won’t Protect Against Frostbite…
I don’t often reprint newspaper articles, letters or speeches unless they have something important to say and say it well. This past week we’ve been blessed with two items worth re-posting here. The come from different sides of the globe, one from Scotland (the rape) and one from Ontario (the unravellings). Continue reading Rape and Ravellings
Marion Fraser is one of the prime movers behind Ontario’s Green Energy Act. Recently she ventured onto Wind Concerns Ontario’s web site and put in a defense of her support of the Act. I have to give her credit for gutsy.
I prepared a response to her posting but it ran 5 pages, too long for a blog entry. So I have created it here. The bold print is her posting, in its entirety. The regular print is my response. I have to mention that I do not represent WCO, and these responses are my own. In the interest of timeliness, I wrote this from memory in about an hour, so please if you see where I’ve misstated something let me know.
From my last paragraph:
So you see, Ms. Fraser, we all know words are cheap and in spite of your words the
process of destroying rural Ontario continues unabated, including homes, communities
and natural habitats. We suspect that this is being done to enrich the friends of the
government at the expense of ratepayers, homeowners and taxpayers. We suspect that
was the intent all along – it has happened too quickly and too completely to be accidental.
We see confirmation for this suspicion in the funds that get directed among the
government, the government-controlled electric power industry, the environmental
NGO’s, the lobbyists and the wind energy developers.
We’d certainly appreciate having any words that can dispel our suspicions, but please be
aware that this scheme has gone on so long and with such reckless devotion it will take
some very persuasive words from someone to disabuse us of our suspicions.
I’m not that keen on posting letters to the editor, unless they are exceptionally well-written, or if they contain actual numbers. One Jack Sullivan, apparently from Malone, NY, gathered up the actual experience of several upstate NY wind projects and compared them to the developers’ earlier statements. Almost needless to say, the disparity was striking.
Wind Power Promises and Predictions Gone Awry [backup link].
Hawaii’s legislature, based on Oahu, passed a law requiring that 40% of their oil-based electricity generation be replaced by renewables. Predictably, proposals for wind energy projects have cropped up. Also predictably, they’ve cropped up on the more remote islands, where the Honolulu folks can look at them from a distance and feel smug about their environmental bona fides. This should sound familiar. Continue reading Sacrilege on Moloka’i
Actually this wasn’t a letter per se, it was an opinion piece published in England by Christopher Booker, a long-time anti-wind writer. Like letters, I usually don’t publish opinion pieces unless they are really good. This one is.
I don’t often post letters to the editors here unless they are unusually well written. Robert Budd of Goderich, Ontario wrote such a letter that was posted by the Goderich Signal-Star on about February 23, 2011. It is well worth the read.
John Harrison, a retired physics professor, has been doing research and writing letters for several years now. His latest is a 15-page compilation of all the ways CanWEA misrepresents the known facts about wind energy. He sent this compilation to a number of government officials etc in December 2010 and has updated it recently. His cover letter reads:
For some time I have been upset by the misinformation dispensed by the Canadian Wind Energy Authority [sic – should be Association] and the way that it has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by environmental groups, government ministries, some journalists and of course by the wind industry. The attached report resulted from a study of the official transcript of evidence given to the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources in November, 2010. I hope that you will read it, be suitably embarrassed and use it to think more deeply about your support for renewable energy in its present form. The report was written primarily for the Senate Committee and went to all members of that committee in December, 2010. In its up-dated form it is being sent to various environmental groups, members of provincial parliament, government ministries and some journalists.
Let me add a post-script: In parts of Ontario where wind energy developers are out persuading land-owners to sign leases, CanWEA is running ads in the local paper. It shows a smiling Angela Morin, owner of The Island Grill on Wolfe Island, and the following quote: “The wind farm project managers came to us and said we want to be part of the community, and they really lived up to that. The extra business allowed us to stay open during the winter, when we’re normally closed. The wind facility has also brought in some tourists who are curious to see what it’s all about.” A WCO member in the region being canvassed by the developers contacted a member on Wolfe Island. He learnt the following: “Yes I’m from Wolfe Island. This lady’s [Angela Morin’s] restaurant has been closed up for the winter since before Christmas and it is for sale along with the island’s only hotel and only bakery and 2 bed and breakfasts and a boat building business all situated in the tiny village of Marysville.”
Wind energy proponents often talk up the benefits to the local communities of their projects. Usually cited are the lease payments to landowners, increased tax revenues and increased tourist revenue. What you generally don’t hear is any word from the locals themselves. Many times the landowners have signed gag orders as part of their leases and cannot speak out to the detriment of the developers. So when someone reports on an unfiltered discussion with the locals, it is worth paying attention to. This letter to the editor, published in the Goderich Signal-Star, is well worth reading.
In the September 7 2010 issue of the Globe and Mail, Adam Radwanski wrote a column titled “An Ill Wind on Lake Erie“. The column was quite critical of Ontario’s Prime Minister, Dalton McGuinty, and the way his Ontario government has sought to implement green and renewable energy. The column focused on Point Pelee, which is by any measure one of the most ecologically sensitive spots in North America, and how wind turbines were very nearly built all around the Point – and still might be, for all I know. Radwinski mentioned that the neighbors were quite vocal in their condemnation of the project. This was a surprise, as the area hadn’t been previously known as a hotbed of Nimbyism, unlike – say – Prince Edward County. Almost needless to say, the residents of PEC took great exception to this slur, and one of them wrote quite a letter to the paper. I can quibble with parts of the letter, but in general it is well-written.
In the comments there was one that pointed to my amherstislandwindinfo.com web site, and another written by Greg Latiak, who lives on Amherst Island. It deserves a full reprint here.
“I don’t understand the fascination among the wind turbine crowd for targetting bird migration routes as the place for their construction. Wolfe Island is an excellent example. Guess the only benefit of putting them in the lake is that the bird/bat kills will float away. These people may resent the existence of everything other than themselves, but birds and bats, besides looking and sounding beautiful, have a role in the natural balance of the world. But if we are sufficiently dedicated I am sure we can kill them all — after all, we made the passenger pigeon extinct. And how the government can plow ahead with these projects that violate international treaties about the protection of migratory birds is just incomprehensible. Guess at some level the fix was in and rationality has nothing to do with it.”
Back in June 2010 the Ontario government released a discussion paper that proposed some rules for offshore wind turbine projects, mainly in the Great Lakes, and solicited public reaction. The most important of these rules was a setback of 5,000 meters from the shoreline. You can imagine the reaction of those neighbors who had turbines 550 meters from their homes.
This is not the first time Ontario has solicited public input. Before the Green Energy Act was passed they held a series of meetings and accepted input. Almost needless to say, they ignored all that input and continued with the same rules they had proposed earlier. In spite of the high probability of wasting my time, I went ahead and submitted some comments of my own.
The authorities on this side of the pond like to point to Europe as this shining example of how wind energy has provided jobs and clean energy. Never mind that those companies have pretty much exhausted their welcome in Europe, at least onshore, and are now desperate to sell their wares to us. Here’s a letter/speech given at a recent protest in Copenhagen.
Lamar Alexander, Republican Senator from Tennessee, has been an outspoken opponent of the wind energy rush. Some part of that may be conviction and some part may be that Oak Ridge is in Tennessee and he favors nuclear in its place. But apart from his obvious local motivations he presents a fair case for his opinions. He certainly has access to good research so I assume his facts are accurate and just the facts contained in these speeches are worth the time to read even if you are not so keen on nuclear.
Alexander’s Five Speeches, original link, 3.7mb
Update, June 12, 2010
In response to the oil spill in the Gulf, the senator proposed 10 actions, one of which was to eliminate our fascination with wind power.
Lamar Alexander, “An energy strategy for grown-ups”
Sean Holt lives in Ontario and has been studying (obsessing over?) the electrical system for several decades. Almost needless to say, he has been studying the latest “green” trends for several years and has come to some of the same conclusions as I have.
Sean Holt, original link to Wind Concerns Ontario.
Keith Stelling lives in Ontario and periodically releases well-researched papers on various aspects of wind energy, mostly in Ontario. This 58-page paper reviews why Ontario’s Green Energy Act, passed in May 2009, will not accomplish its stated goals. It is replete with references and serves as a good summary of the different issues surrounding the Act.
What Went Wrong, the original link at Wind Concerns Ontario.
A backup copy.
Every now and then I come across a letter that strikes me as intelligent and well written. I’ll include them here, as well as any letters I write that seem appropriate. There’s no particular theme to these, other than opposition to wind energy. But if I come across an intelligent letter from a proponent – meaning it contains more than industry talking points – I’ll include that was well. Below are five letters to start with. Continue reading Letters