To the Editor:
I was interested to read about the temporary windmills possibly being placed around Damariscove and Monhegan.
In truth, I suspect most Americans have never seen (or heard) a wind farm. Quite rightly, most people’s reaction to a single windmill is admiration for the town or property owner’s forward thinking in reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
The problem is that the only way to generate any significant power commercially is to put rows and rows of these windmills together, covering a large area.
England is well ahead of the US in this regard, where wind farms are common and have been operating for several generations. The coastline of my native Cornwall is very similar to Maine. Granite cliffs, glorious scenery, and pretty fishing villages make this lovely region very popular with tourists. Unfortunately these wild cliffs were ideal for wind generation and several large wind farms were built on spectacular headlands, which were visible and could be heard from miles away (windmills en-mass are noisy). A beautiful natural scene became an eyesore.
Edgecomb has strict restrictions in place to try to maintain its beautiful shoreline. I am perfectly happy with the local ordinances that restrict me from cutting down trees between my house and the water, because I genuinely want to help preserve the beauty of this area.
A hillside of trees is a lot more attractive than a hillside of windmills, yet caught up in the enthusiasm for wind power, we are now seeing proposals for placing windmills in some of the most beautiful areas of our coastline.
I am most definitely not against using the wind and the power of the tide to reduce our dependence on oil. Large wind farms offshore, where the only principal inconvenience is to shipping, fishermen and boaters, might well be a viable compromise. The largest wind farm in the world is in the Thames Estuary and an even larger one is planned near Lundy Island, off the west coast of England. They can work.
What concerns me are the temporary farms near Damariscove and Monhegan Island, and the quote in your Sept. 17 article (“Wind power questions raises concern, interest” Page 1) that though these experimental windmills are supposed to be removed after five years, the law could allow them to stay. Temporary is an abused term, often used to enable an unpopular scheme to get approval. When visiting my old university I was amused to see two “temporary” classrooms built while I was there, still in use 40 years later.
Is it more important to preserve the natural beauty of our coastline, or use wind power to satisfy our need for more power? The answer of course is that both are important, and with careful planning both dreams can be realized. We need to keep those stringent restrictions in place to protect our coastline.
It would be so tragic to see whole islands or cliffs given over to wind farms, but let’s face it, when it comes to power, jobs and money, proposed schemes have a habit of getting passed.
President Obama and many Americans are caught up in the euphoria of alternative energy (which considering we use more energy than any other world power, is long overdue), but we also have to learn from the mistakes that other nations have made. Natural beauty, once compromised, is hard to restore.
Years from now, your children will still wonder at the beauty of the islands off the Maine Coast, but it would be so sad if you had to tell them to imagine how beautiful they were before the windmills were built. Unfortunately I can already say exactly this about other parts of the world I have loved.
Ed Hamilton, Edgecomb