Why I Chose to be Arrested at Rollins Mountain
My name is Don Smith. I am a native Mainer and I am 82 years old. I am a
veteran and a grandfather. I was arrested and charged with criminal
trespass at the Rollins Mt. wind project site in Lincoln on November 8.
Five were arrested as we formed a human barricade to the site. Dozens of
others braved the cold rainy November day to protest First Wind’s project.
Many people have asked me why I did this. Good question. I hope I give
good answers. The first reason is that nobody seems to be paying
attention to the negative aspects of wind power. Least of all is the
complacent and complicit media in Maine. If we had just stood out there
with signs, even the local reporter would likely have overlooked the
event. By putting myself on the line to dramatize why this project is so
wrong, it caught the attention of media far and wide.
It seems that most people understand utility scale (or industrial) wind
power superficially, accepting wind power as “green” and “clean” and the
panacea for solving energy and climate challenges. It is the result of
years of masterful propaganda by the wind industry. Some of us have
actually done a lot of research into industrial wind and have found huge
negatives. By dramatically raising the visibility of the issue with the
arrests, we are getting people to discover these negatives as the follow
up dialogue transpires.
I have gained insights from my research into industrial wind. The wind
industry would not exist without massive government subsidies. For
example: the US Energy Information Administration reports that in 2007,
wind received $23.37 per megawatt hour in subsidies; the next highest
subsidy was $1.59 for nuclear. Those are our tax dollars going into
something that doesn’t work.
We are putting up wind turbines in places where there isn’t enough wind to
generate electricity. Look at the NREL map of wind potential in Maine.
The area around Lincoln Lakes is all white. Look at the color code and
white means “poor”. My guess is wind turbines are not about generating
electricity, they are about selling a carbon tax in the form of Renewable
Energy Certificates, raking in Production Tax Credits, and having the
taxpayers pay the cost of construction.
Another reason I got arrested is to protest the proliferation of these
industrial wind projects. I retired to live a quiet life on Caribou Pond,
with a view of Rollins Mt. That ridge will have fifteen turbines, each
389 feet high. The total number of turbines will be forty on Rollins Mt.
and the ridges of Rocky Dundee. An acoustics expert stated that the noise
from these turbines will negatively impact hundreds of people on the lakes
and nearby country roads, the same well-documented noise problems that
have been experienced at Mars Hill, Freedom, and Vinalhaven.
I am not a NIMBY. I don’t believe these industrial machines belong
anywhere in the rural landscape. Not in anyone’s yard—back yard, front
yard, side yard. The noise issue is just one of many. If you could see
the destruction of Rollins Mt. taking place right now, you would never
consider this a “green” project. The DEP would fine me if I moved a rock
at my home, yet they approved ridges being blasted away and scalped. They
will never be the same. The Rollins project will blast away more than
seven miles of ridges and clear-cut more than one thousand acres and
install twenty miles of powerlines to tie into the grid.
That is for just one project. Without thinking through the ramifications,
in 2008 the Legislature passed LD 2283, a horrible law to give favoritism
to wind power. They chose an arbitrary figure of 2700 MW of installed
capacity by 2020, which at a generous actual output of 25%, ends up being
just 675 MW of intermittent, unpredictable, unreliable power. If Rollins
is 60 MW, then it will mean 45 more projects like this to achieve that
goal. Do the math. Based on the impact of Rollins, that means at least
315 miles of Maine ridges and mountains blasted away to install 1800
turbines; 45,000 acres or more of carbon sequestrating forest permanently
clear-cut; and 1,000 miles or more of new powerlines. The price?
Rollins’ price tag of $130 million times 45 is a staggering $5.85
Why did I get arrested? To help bring forth what a folly this is and how
damaging it is to Maine’s environment. Wind power is bad economics and
bad public policy. It is far from “green.” The negative impacts of these
projects on the environment and our quality of place far outweigh the
pittance of good they might do for the planet.