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The Peninsula
Web exclusive, October 15, 2009
Power group members hear new ideas at wind energy conference

Wind Energy Archive
Click here to see the full Wind Energy Archive.

Peninsula Power members attended the Maine Wind Energy Conference in Augusta at the Civic Center October 6.

Opening remarks were given by Gov. John Baldacci who spoke of his recent trip to Norway to investigate that country’s wind production facilities. A press release from Peninsula Power notes that Baldacci hopes that Maine can take advantage of the research that has already been done in Europe so that we can save years of development time. With proven wind power technology, Maine can reduce expenses and address only the challenges specific to the state.

During the morning presentations the group listened to Larry Flowers, from the Wind Powering America Program, speak about the federal perspective and achieving 20 percent wind generation by 2030. He noted that several midwestern states are already producing over 10 percent of their electricity with wind power, as are several European countries. Flowers said that wind power is the second fastest growing energy producer in the U.S. after natural gas. Wind power has some advantages over other sources. It uses no water, where other generators can use more water than agriculture uses for irrigation in their areas. Wind does not use fuel. An obvious fact, but it means that no large scale delivery of coal or gas needs to be provided for. It means that the fuel will not need to be purchased at unknown future prices. It means that no future carbon tax will need to be paid. For utilities interested in security and long-term banking, wind power has some advantages. He concluded that with 20 percent wind power generation by 2030 the country would experience a $205 billion advantage over current methods.

John Kerry from the Governor’s Office of Energy and Independence and Security spoke about the goals for wind power in Maine. They propose to produce 2,000 megawatts of electric generation capacity by 2015 and 3,000 MW by 2020. He mentioned that Maine sends $5 billion out of state for energy every year, draining our economy. He suggested we need to stop that drain and to use our own natural resources to create a recycling of our energy dollars.

Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine spoke about where wind power is today in Maine. Though much of what his organization does is protect the environment, part of what it does is promote good energy policy. Wind power facilities are growing in Maine in general and in places like Kibby Moutain where a 132 MW facility is half completed.

Peninsula Power members spread out to attend a diverse group of break out sessions with titles like Municipal Owned Turbines, Maine PUC Incentives and Programs, Maine’s New Wind Ordinance Template, University of Maine at Presque Isle’s New Medium Scale Wind Turbine and Wind based Curriculum, and much more. The PP members also reviewed the many booths at the conference where they could talk individually with people in the industry. The members reported to their regular public meeting on October 8 much of what they learned.