Friday, March 26, 2010

The Lincoln Maine Wind Farm

I realize that the wind farm is a very controversial topic in town. When my wife Katie and I moved back to the Mid-West this past summer we left with the notion that the project would probably never get off the ground. We figured that those turbines would be laying in the Chester fairgrounds for years to come or at some point would be moved to some other more accepting location. As time has passed though it seems as though the wind farm is likely to be erected at some point in the future.

I can empathize with the residents in town who believe the turbines will obstruct Lincoln's natural views. And I totally respect the opinion that Lincoln is way too beautiful to have such monstrosities on our pristine lakes and ridge tops. I also agree that the economic boost First Wind is offering is minimal. The initial money will help but over time will there be any real economic benefit to having an industrial sized wind farm dotted around the town of Lincoln? This is a great question and one that deserves an honest answer taking into account our future as a civilization.

Renewable energy is going to continue to play a larger part of our country’s energy mix. Right now total wind and solar power generated is minimal when compared to energy generated from fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil. Will this always be the case? Probably not, the costs of fossil fuels will likely rise in the future as the world recovers from this economic downturn, demand will turn upward and prices will move higher along with it. We only have to remember the summer of 2008 to recall a time when gas was $4 a gallon at the Sunoco station in town.

Energy prices will likely rise again, there is really no doubt this will happen at some point over the next 2-10 years. And while Lincoln won’t directly benefit from the wind farm with lower electricity rates, it doesn’t take much foresight to see how the two could be connected in the future.

Imagine the possibilities if First Wind was to sell off the wind farm years down the road. Lincoln, the state of Maine or Bangor Hydro could all be potential buyers for a much lower cost than is being invested today. This could potentially benefit the town or state greatly and could even affect electricity rates in town in a positive way.

The wind farm could also bring stability to town. With a local electricity generation facility Lincoln could potentially be insulated from electrical grid black outs happening elsewhere in the state or country. If you believe in domestic energy or support “drill baby drill” then you should also support the wind farm. Wind energy created in Lincoln supports Lincoln in the same way that other places in the country benefit from coal or natural gas resources.

If we visualize what our future as a society potentially looks like then there are many benefits to letting this investment enter the town. Think of it as an investment in the region. The towers, and energy generation potential once constructed will never leave. Of course some residents will be negatively affected more than others but for the majority this project will bring a major advancement to the area. It will put Lincoln on the map, in a good way by attracting eco-tourists who want to see the turbines and also green minded people who may want to support a clean renewable option to power their lives.

The world is moving towards renewable energy technologies and Lincoln should get on board. While this may seem to only be the front of the wave, rest assured that wave is going to get much bigger.

Joe Pater
Madison, WI