Wind Power In Maine Part 2 

Proponents of wind power say the economic benefits are vast and inarguable. Paul Williamson is the Director of the Maine Wind Industry Intitative a group that’s spearheading the wind movement here in Maine. “It’s a path that sets the U.S. on towards energy independence, which relates directly to security which also relates directly to how our country finances and deals with budgetary issues all the way down to household issues.”Williamson believes with onshore and offshore wind, Maine can become a global leader in wind energy and create thousands of new jobs. “It’s a supply and demand issue,” says Williamson, “so we need to look at Maine and we need to look at the greater northeastern region and realize that there’s a market to capture here in manufacturing and that’s a key component to building maine’s economy.”He says it could even help cut household costs. “Wind energy in Maine is stronger in the winter time. So we can align that wind energy with heating costs and turn that energy into heating homes and remove Maine from being the largest user of heating oil in the country.”But some people living near existing wind farms say the cost is too high in addition to noise complaints, some think wind farms have an irreversible visual impact. Marilyn Roper and her husband Harry own a camp in Danforth. “It had a beautiful pristine scenery and two lakes,” says Roper. The Ropers are avid star gazers and they say the Stetson 1 and 2 projects have ruined their view. “They’re going to be white elephants with blinking red lights for many, many years in one of the premier dark sky areas that still remain in the United States.”The wind power task force has set some lofty power production goals they would like to reach by 2015 but some folks, like sound engineer Robert Rand, say it’s more important to get it right. “There’s a great deal to this that really needs to slow down a bit and get a little more planning going on.” “One of the things we really need to realize with wind power development, as with any industrial development in Maine, is it’s not a panacea and it’s not a perfect fit everywhere,” adds Williamson, “and there are a number of different factors that come with wind development and we need to work with our local communities to understand what those factors are.”On vinalhaven, the folks at Fox Island Wind are working with people affected by noise from the turbines to solve the problem. Art Lindgren and Ethan Hall say they have little confidence that a compromise can be reached. “Maybe there’s a way to make this work,” says Hall, “from what I’ve learned, it’s going to be really difficult and it’s highly likely that it won’t.”While some are concerned about the noise, the majority of Vinalhaven residents seem to be happy with the project. If you ask folks on both sides of this debate, they both offer the same advice: come and see for yourself.”Number one, do your homework,” says Vinalhaven resident Art Lindgren, “number two, look at the towns that have been dealing with this. Look at Vinalhaven, look at other places, look at Mars Hill where these things were put in and people didn’t do their homework.””I would tell anybody come out and listen for yourself,” says Vinalhaven resident Alan Barker, “you know you can read a lot in the paper, you can listen to what I’m saying. Come see for yourself or go near one that’s up and running and just listen for yourself.”