Wind Conference Opens In Augusta 

The Maine Wind Energy Conference kicked off in Augusta Monday. A lot of folks there are telling lawmakers that wind power could provide a big economic boost to the state. Hundreds of people are expected to show up at the Augusta Civic Center for this two day conference that explores the past, present, and future of wind energy in Maine. Sue Jones is one of the organizers of the two-day event. “It’s really to celebrate the entire industry and to learn where we’re at and where we’re going,” she says. That future may be a bit cloudier than it once was. New Governor Paul LePage doesn’t appear to be sold on wind power just yet. “If it can produce 6 cent energy for Maine people, it’s a great industry,” LePage said on Monday. “If it provides expensive energy and they can sell it, I’ll let them build all day long. As long as I don’t have to pay for it.”More than 50 speakers from all over the country have come to the conference. Also taking part are businesses like Reed & Reed construction, which has worked on just about every industrial wind project in Maine. They’re hoping to convince skeptical lawmakers that wind power is worth taking a look at. “The most important thing on our plate is just making sure the legislature understands what a great opportunity we have here to build our economy around wind,” says Abbie Parker, a risk manager for Reed & Reed.Some of those lawmakers are willing to listen. Representative Stacie Fitts from Pittsfield, who chairs the Energy Utilities and Technology Committee, says wind power could be a part of the solution to our energy problems in Maine. “Our electricity system is based on natural gas and we’re highly dependent on natural gas and I think wind offers some diversity away from natural gas but at the same time we have to look at other sources.” A group called “Friends of Maine’s Mountains” released a statement today condemning the conference. The group says the conference is nothing more than two days of propaganda promoting the most expensive form of electricity available to the grid.The conference wraps up Tuesday.