Recreation and tourism thrives near wind power projects in Maine. The Appalachian Trail runs beneath the towers at Mars Hill. Snowmobilers gather at the Stetson Wind Project each year and ride their sleds nearby all winter. Kibby is visible from Sugarloaf and a remote campground on the Chain of Ponds. There is plenty of proof that recreation and tourism continues alongside an emerging wind power industry that is creating jobs and bringing money into our economy.
Many peer reviewed studies of property sales near wind power projects across the country have found no correlation between wind development and property values.
The Maine Center for Disease Control found "no evidence in peer-reviewed medical and public health literature of adverse health effects from the kinds of noise and vibrations heard by wind turbines other than occasional reports of annoyances, and these are mitigated or disappear with proper placement of the turbines from nearby residences." Visit a wind turbine to see and hear for yourself if you have questions about sound and shadow flicker.
Professional wildlife biologists work with state and federal agencies to carefully study the natural resources at each proposed wind site. Development plans avoid as many impacts as possible, and often provide mitigation for the minimal impacts they do cause. The Land Use Regulation Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Army Corps of Engineers are all involved during the siting, planning, construction and monitoring of Maine wind projects. Post-construction bird and bat monitoring of operational wind projects have shown that proper siting is the best way to ensure biologically insignificant impacts on populations. Other wildlife such as moose, deer, and lynx continue to live healthy lives around wind projects.
Nearly all the people hired for wind power related work in Maine are from Maine - including more than 600 jobs in 2008 and 2009, years of severe economic distress. The well-paying operations and maintenance jobs created at wind projects provide benefits, cannot be shipped overseas, and make a real difference for local families and communities.
Wind energy in Maine is strengthening communities around the state. In addition to protecting our air and water, creating jobs and reducing local taxes, wind energy has meant new revenue for more than 760 Maine businesses across many sectors of the economy.
A recent study for ISO-NE found that when wind produces 24% of the electricity available on the grid, rates will be reduced between $50 and $54 per MWH, which is equivalent to direct savings of nearly $1 billion.
ISO-NE recently completed a study on integrating wind power into their system. The report states, “New England could potentially integrate wind resources to meet up to 24% of the region’s total annual electrical needs in 2020...”. As this percentage grows, homegrown wind power can help mitigate the impacts of disruptions in other generation as it recently has in Texas and Japan.
As demand for electricity increases, new wind projects help reduce the need for new fossil-fuel fired generation plants to be built. And as wind turbines run, they scale back the amount of fuel burned at existing fossil energy plants. Meeting the goal of 3000 MW of installed wind power in Maine will result in 7.8 million megawatt hours of clean electricity annually, which would be equivalent to removing more than 1 million cars from our roads.
Maine is a big state. Although turbines are tall and often placed on high ridgelines that make them more visible, they are invisible in the vast majority of Maine places. Regulations prohibit placement of turbines in our most special places and require detailed review of visual impacts on places of exceptional scenic beauty. Beyond that, Maine's rugged topography and thick forests make it difficult to see even tall structures on ridgelines from many locations. Importantly, many people believe wind turbines are beautiful, and do not object to them in the first place.