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My name is Keith Michaud and this is “Letters From Away,” a blog written by a Mainer living outside the comfortable and sane confines of New England. The blog is intended for Mainers, whether they live in the Pine Tree State or beyond, and for anyone who has loved ’em, been baffled by ’em or both. Ayuh, I am “from away.” Worse still, I live on the Left Coast – in California. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice.
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- How Maine Became a Laboratory for the Future of Public Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Angus King Urges Interior Department To Reconsider Offshore Drilling Proposal | Mainepublic.org
- Maine Voices: Higher education, employers must work together for bright future | Portland Press Herald
- Stunning reversal: McDaniels turns down Colts’ job to stay with Patriots | The Associated Press via the Portland Press Herald
- Kennebec River water levels could stay high into next week | Bangor Daily News
Tag Archives: First Wind
[Here is the top of the second part in a two-part series by the Lewiston Sun Journal on wind energy. I’m disappointed in the series. The writing was not as clear and meaningful as it should have been for an issue of such importance and the editing seemed nonexistent. But I promised to post the link to the second of the two parts, so here it is. – KM]
Big wind developers receive substantial federal funds and whether they ought to or not is a major bone of contention as more wind farms pop up in Maine.
The arguments from both sides of the issue go something like:
Pro: Lots of other energy sources (coal, oil, nuclear) are subsidized, too.
Con: Wind, given the size, gets more than its fair share.
Pro: Subsidies are important to jump-start the industry.
Con: If it can’t stand on its own, tough. It shouldn’t stand at all.
And maybe trumping those arguments: Maine has said, in law, it wants more wind power — and, nationally, subsidy is simply part of how wind power gets paid for.
First Wind, for example, received $40.4 million last fall for putting up 38 wind turbines in eastern Maine, an upfront cash payment of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) stepped up through the stimulus funds.
“It’s a pretty established set of criteria you have to meet and if you happen to meet it you’ll receive this grant; if you don’t, you won’t,” said spokesman John Lamontagne in Boston.
In 2007, at the request of a Tennessee senator, the U.S. Energy Information Administration looked at federal energy subsidies by industry and found, in sheer dollars, refined coal got the most money and support at $2.1 billion, three times that of wind. Unrefined coal and nuclear both got more than wind as well. But compare all three by their ratio of subsidies-to-output and wind jumps to the top as most expensive.
Click on the link to the rest of today’s story by Kathryn Skelton in the Lewiston Sun Journal.
The Economics of Wind: What’s behind the interest, and what’s it mean for jobs | Lewiston Sun Journal
[I’m a wind-power proponent in that I strongly believe we need to greatly reduce our foreign oil addiction. And we need to find a much more environmentally friendly energy source. Below is the top section of the first part of a two-part series by the Lewiston Sun Journal on wind energy. I intend to link the second part tomorrow, whether either part supports my beliefs or not. It is an important issue and an important time for energy in Maine. So, it is important to have as much information as possible, even if you or I do not want to know that information. – KM]
Sun Journal Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series. The second part will run on Monday, April 12.
As Maine inches toward its goal of more wind power development, the financial justifications for and against are almost as hard to grasp as the wind itself.
Environmental activist Jonathan Carter, for example, wrote in a recent newspaper opinion piece that up to 60 percent of the cost of wind power projects is covered by federal subsidies. That figure’s important, with wind power opponents saying wind shouldn’t rely on high government subsidies and proponents saying it deserves the same treatment as other energy suppliers.
When asked, Carter pointed to National Wind Watch as the source of his information.
National Wind Watch pointed to a semi-retired former coal official in Virginia.
When the Sun Journal contacted that man, he pointed to a Los Angeles lawyer who works with wind farm developers … and his math, it turns out, isn’t so clear-cut.
Gov. Baldacci and an ex-PUC chief,
now a wind developer, are among
those who let industry sway policy, critics say
As Maine rushes to embrace wind power, unnamed critics posting on Internet sites and reader comment pages contend that money and political connections – reaching all the way to the governor’s office – are greasing the skids.
A repeated theme, for instance, focuses on Gov. John Baldacci and Kurt Adams, former chairman of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Adams served as Baldacci’s chief counsel. The governor appointed him chairman of the PUC in 2005. Adams left in 2008 to be a top executive at First Wind, the state’s most active wind-power developer. Posters allege that Adams has since benefited from his connections with Baldacci to gain permits and generous taxpayer subsidies for big wind projects.
The charge has become more persistent over the past year, as the pace of energy development has picked up in Maine, fueled by federal stimulus money, efforts to cut reliance on oil and strong support for renewable energy by both Baldacci and President Obama.
But in interviews with the Maine Sunday Telegram, Adams and a spokesman for Baldacci say their conduct has been legal and appropriate, and that organized opponents of wind development are using innuendo to influence public opinion.
The connections aren’t secret, they say, and the charges lack specific – or accurate – accounts of any wrongdoing.
Click this link for the rest of today’s story by Tux Turkel of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram. (Note: there seems to be a problem with the website’s pages for this story. You may have to click to the second page of the story for the beginning. — KM)