Uncategorized | 10:52 am | August 22, 2011 | By Alison Griswold

Wind farm with Yale investment heads toward completion

A controversial, Roxbury, Maine-based wind farm project that Yale has holdings in moved one step closer to completion last Monday.

The Department of Energy last week finalized a $102 million loan guarantee to Record Hill Wind, an alternative energy project to construct wind turbines that has drawn opposition from a group of Roxbury locals who have condemned the project for harming the region’s ecology. The University has also come under fire from the environmental activists, as Yale, notorious for keeping its endowment holdings private, publicly disclosed its investment in Record Hill Wind in early March, when the Department of Energy announced conditional commitment to the $102 million loan guarantee.

Yale’s financial backing and the government loan will help fund a 50.6 megawatt wind power enterprise consisting of 22 turbines. Once completed, the project is estimated to produce nearly enough energy cover the electricity consumption of households in Oxford County — a 2,078-square mile portion of southwest Maine that includes Roxbury.

The project is run by developers Independence Wind of Maine and Wagner Wind Energy of New Hampshire, and expected to create 200 construction jobs.

Comments
  • eli1143770312

    Notorious: according to the American Heritage Dictionary, it means “known widely and usually unfavorably; infamous”. Yale isn’t ‘notorious’ for keeping its investments private although it is known widely to have that policy. Not sure if you view that policy unfavorably. To me, it only reflects common sense, since it supports the University’s goal of maximizing its return by reducing the ability of others to free ride on its investment decisions. And if you do view it unfavorably, why? While the NIMBY objections of the neighbors aren’t surprising, why should anyone else object to the University backing a green energy investment?

  • PenobScot

    Yale for years operated behind the mysterious shell company Bayroot, perhaps named after the college drinking game. Bayroot’s massive clear cuts in Maine have scarred Maine like no others. Barren moonscapes are left in their wake, where once verdant forest stood. Look at Herseytown, ME for starters. Talk to the locals. Ask for photos. Utter devastation from a fraudulent self procliamed environmental steward.

    People thought Bernie Maddoff was smart too, until they realized his gains were ill gotten.

  • KarenPease

    “Once completed, the project is estimated to produce nearly enough energy cover the electricity consumption of households in Oxford County — a 2,078-square mile portion of southwest Maine that includes Roxbury.”

    That is a misleading statement, as this wind-generated electricity will NOT power sparsely populated Oxford County– nor does Maine need it to. Already a state with one of the highest percentages of ‘renewables’ in our portfolio, Maine exports a large percentage of the electricity it generates. This plan is a disaster in the making for rural Maine and other states which find themselves in the sights of the corporate wind lobby.

    No, former Governor King (the developer) and Yale University (the ‘investor’) have spent the last 3 years misleading Maine citizens about this project. And once they got their way–once they obtained their permit and the backing of the DOE–they’ve spent the summer blasting and excavating tens of thousands of cubic yards of summit and slope-side granite and earth in order to build an electricity source high in negative impacts (to environment, health, quality of place, tourist economy and individual finances) and low in benefits of any kind.

    Of COURSE Yale/Bayroot wanted to keep their indentity secret, so that others don’t ride on their successful investments. Why make room at the public trough? Not only were they reluctant to share the source of their next cash infusion (that’ll come straight from our pockets, folks) but I dare say Yale was a bit embarrassed to have its identity revealed. For so long, they have touted themselves as a ‘green’ and ‘environmental’ university, but the science and economics behind the current wind energy plan prove beyond a doubt that mountaintop industrial wind is neither environmentally friendly, not financially feasible.

    I hope that if students have not engaged in INDEPENDENT research into this very important topic, they will do so now. The reputation of Yale is at stake, as is the environmental and financial health of every state which has been targeted by Big Wind.

    Yale should be ashamed of itself. There are investments galore which do NOT do long-term damage to the ecosystems of your neighboring states, and which do not depend on American tax-payers for your lucrative ‘return on investment’, i.e. PROFIT. There have to be some levels to which such a great university will not stoop to. I urge students, faculty and trustees to engage in this issue, study it, talk to experts… and then– go with your heart and your common sense and not with a plan which ignores integrity and rationality and goes for the profit– no matter how ill-gotten it is.

    Respectfully,
    Karen Pease
    Lexington Twp., Maine

  • AlanMichka

    The Yale University Endowment can thank the American taxpayer for shouldering the risk for THEIR investment through the DOE loan guarantee. It’s called socializing risk while privatizing profit. Apparently the Endowment, nor anyone else, had enough confidence in this investment to provide financing without putting taxpayers on the hook. They can also thank the unfortunate people in Maine who must bear the burden of living with these white elephants.

    As a Mainer who lives close to other Yale Endowment owned land targeted for wind development degradation, I hope that the Yale faculty, students and alumni will urge their university to stop these intrusive, high impact, low energy yield projects. According to their last permit application, Yale plans to blast away over 1.5 million cubic yards of the mountains outside my home to build new roads and turbine pads in their NEXT assault on rural Maine. In this other project, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has declared that the site is inappropriate for large scale wind development due to the high impact on wildlife. Yet Yale and their partners are forging ahead anyway. Apparently Yale’s disregard for Maine’s people and lands extends to its wildlife also. Yale is building its portfolio on the destruction of rural Maine.

    There might be appropriate places for visually and aurally intrusive, low yield energy projects like wind turbines – perhaps in a low impact location. The scenic and quiet mountains of rural Maine are not appropriate. Most of us who live in these places do not want to host Yale’s next great investment scheme. It’s a lose/lose for us.

    Wind energy is only green until you learn how little it contributes to our energy mix, and witness first hand the destruction of a remarkable place in order to force it onto the landscape. If you believe this is “green” energy investment, you haven’t seen what is going on in Maine.

  • nadianichols

    Have you heard of Virgil Caine? She’s a young golden eagle who lives in the area where Yale’s turbines are headed. Her air space is above Maine’s western mountains and ridgelines, where she rides the thermals and searches for her next meal. Her wing spread is nearly six feet and her weight thirteen pounds. Maine’s golden eagles are on the endangered species list. There are NO “take” permits issued for golden eagles in Maine. These industrial turbines are killing thousands of raptors, not to mention migratory birds and bats. They are all in violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act, the Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. There will be grave consequences to this, not the least of which is the extirpation of a marvelous eagle.

  • basho

    students and faculty should care why????

  • Despicable_Yale

    Look Yale, it is all about the Renewable Energy Credits and cashing in on Obama Subsidy Money, screw the Maine citizen.
    These Yale Blowtoys couldn’t power 50 homes reliably, it is a farce.
    Hopefully, after a few years of subsidy cessation, this project will rot away like dozens of others around the country, and the scrap metal will be used for brain plates on the schemers of the Yale Endowment fund.
    It is time to look at Bayroot and the likes of these subsidy scams Yales perpetrates.

  • Turk

    For those who question, “Why should I care?” You sound like me.

    Before Industrial Wind came to my town I could have cared less!

    We’ve driven that wind developer off, but we still fight on.

    We’ve learned that Industrial Wind is a complete sham, unfit for anyones backyard.

    Health affects and radical change in quality of life are legitimate and real for those who live close to an industrial wind project. Property devaluation (within the sacrifice zone) also occurs. (You wouldn’t buy a home in the shadow of a wind project either.) Birds (not just the tweety birds that die when they hit your picture window)…and already stressed bat populations die thanks to these useless machines. The energy, useless, because it comes in such wild spurts. No grid manager dares to rely on wind power to support the grid (wind is ALWAYS bonus energy which is nice to know you have..but do you dare to depend on it?) As a result, no coal plants shut down thanks to wind. Baseload power is king and always will be in our society. Wind energy is hugely subisidized. I know…. all energy is… Wind @ $23.37 per MWH. Hydro @ 67 cents per MWH. Coal 44 cents per MWH, Natural Gas 25 cents per MWH. See the difference? (No need to mention oil, as it only produces about 1-2 % of the electrical generation in the United States.) Wind developers sell the renewable energy credits to carbon spewing industries that make things we buy. Which raises the prices of these things for us. They also rely on 30% of their project costs to be paid for by the US taxpayer. They don’t create nearly the jobs that they claim to make…and each one of those high priced “green” jobs kills nearly 2 jobs in other sectors. (Due to money being siphoned away from that industry.) The carbon footprint. I don’t have figures for you on this, but it has been shown that a wind turbine will never offset more carbon than it took to produce the machine. (In order for carbon to be offset by a turbine you would actually have to shut down a carbon producing generator and then use the wind energy in its place.)

    That’s a few good reasons why you should care.

    But you should do more than care. You should act.

    Yale’s wind turbines are laying to ruin special places in some of America’s last remote places. They transform people’s homes and places of solitude into sterile, industrial sites that do absolutely no good. These turbines squander the already depleted financial resources of our struggling nation.

    ACT by using your voice to motivate Yale to back away from wind.

    Then support renewable projects that produce stable, reliable, baseload power. Geothermal, hydro and landfill gas are a few that I would not want in my backyard, BUT which will do what they claim to do….MAKE USEABLE ELECTRICITY. If you’ve got to be sacrificed…it needs to be worth it!

    Do you see where I’m coming from here? I hope so.

    I care. I act. I wish you would too.

  • Turk

    I couldn’t fit this in my earlier post: Consider this. SOLAR….is NOT baseload power. But is quite a bit more forcastable, reliable and less variable than wind power. It can also be quietly placed right where it is needed on rooftops in the demand centers of America. Minimizing the destruction of wilderness and eliminating the “line loss” that occurs on projects that are far from civalization. Expensive, but benign. I’ll take some solar panels in my backyard and my neighbors’ backyard too.

    No….I don’t sell solar panels. Or work for the coal or oil industry for that matter. I’m just a guy who’s looked closely at the “claims” and then the reality of the wind industry, and not liked what I’ve found.

  • 201Y1

    To repeat: WE DON’T CARE. And those of us who do aren’t going to be spurred to action by a deluge of longwinded comments on our college newspaper’s website in the middle of August. Stop. Learn to protest.

  • JE11

    Also, reliable sources please.

  • Turk

    Energy Information Administration for info on subsidies.

    Gardner Appraisal Group did a comprehensive and convincing study on the affect of realestate values on rural land in Texas. They make the case very well. Better than the studies that draw a 10 mile circle around the project. Because at 10 miles away..nobody cares.

    It is a fact that 30% of these projects are paid for by you and me. Hopefully that practice will one day expire in the halls of congress, but hasn’t yet.

    From the NERC 2009 Long Term Reliability Assessment Pg. 3. “Wind Power alone is projected to account for 18% of the total resource mix by 2018. (In the US.) Due to it’s limited availability during times of peak demand, however, wind power accounts for only about 3 % of the peak resource mix.”

    A study done for Ny ISO by GE dated 03/04/05: on page 8.7 states “if excessive wind generation causes the NYISO to shut down critical base-load generators with long shutdown / restart times cycle times, the system could be placed in a position of reduced reliablity.”

    Page 3.2 has the graph which shows wind to be the most variable and uncertain source of Renewable Energy.

    Jobs. George Will from the washington Post, June 24 2009. “No other nation (Spain) has so aggressively supported production of electricity from renewable sources. In Spain wind industry jobs cost 1.4 million dollars each and entails 2.2 jobs in other sectors either being lost or not created because of political allocation.”

    Wind energy is always your extra, bonus energy. Here is quote from Christina Real de Azua from the American Wind Energy Association. July 06′ ” You don’t really count on wind energy as capacity. It is different from other technologies because it can’t be dispatched”.

    A quote from Phil Conkling president of the Island Institute in Maine regarding the Fox Island project on Vinalhaven. ” The economics, in other words, work- with MORE THAN A LITTLE help from the federal tax code and the sale of renewable energy credits.”

    Don Rendell from Kingdom Valley Community Wind in Lowell Vermont. “We need to be able to sell the renewale energy credits for this project to be economically viable.”

    RENEWABLE ENERGY CREDITS RAISE THE COST OF THINGS WE BUY. Then we pay higher rates for the power. (There is no 4.5 cent wind power) Then we pay for 30% of the project. Then we give them huge tax breaks and rapid depreciation…they then sell the project and the next guy gets to depreciate it the same way and then they sell and……

    From the Renewable Energy Foundation in London. ” A recent study by Oxera for the DTI has concluded that even with the very stron subsidy support currently available, which can account for 50 to 70% of a wind farm’s income, wind farms in medium and low wind areas will struggle to be economic.”

  • Turk

    Another excellent source: E. ON Netz 2005 wind report. On page 9. (Wind can only replace conventional generation to a limited degree. E.On says this in comments: “In concrete terms, this means that in 2020, with a forcast wind power CAPACITY of over 48,000 MW , 2,000 MW of traditional power production can be replaced by these wind farms.”

    Think about this: So Germany’s grid manager says that 24,000 wind turbines could replace one 2,000 MW coal generator. If New England’s typical daily load is say….17,000 MW and we want to get…say….20% of our power from wind…then we need 40,800 wind turbines in New England. That’s one wind turbine per 1.75 square mile block of land for every state in New England.

    Will that happen?!!! heck no! There would be an uproar like never heard. So for now a few opportunists (YALE) cash in by destroying remote ridgetops in poor areas where the nearest neighbor can’t even come close to putting up a fight. Meanwhile not even putting the slightest dent in offsetting carbon or making power that can be used.

    Ah heck…it’s a nice day. I’ve got to get outside!

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