Could Maine be Energy Self Sufficient in Ten Years?
Yesterday I attended a meet and greet for Pat McGowan who is one of seven candidates who are running for the Democratic nomination to be the next Governor of Maine. One of his key agenda items is to continue Maine on its path to energy self sufficiency within ten years. This would be accomplished through harnessing a diverse array of renewable energy sources.
McGowan's stated that this is totally achievable as within about a year Maine could have a maximum capacity of 400 megawatts of electricity from wind energy. This would be equivalent to almost half the power capacity of the 900 megawatt Maine Yankee nuclear power plant when it was operational. This would be enough electricity to power somewhere around 150,000 homes.
Based on data I compiled from the Natural Resources Council of Maine website, Maine currently produces a maximum of 175 megawatts of wind power, with an additional 202.5 megawatts under construction and up to 229.5 megawatts currently in the permit application process, with even more projects being studied. All told, the short range maximum wind generating capacity either currently operational, under construction or undergoing permitting is over 600 megawatts or around 1.6 billion kilowatt hours per year of electricity. This would be enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 250,000 Maine homes. Assuming permitting went reasonably smoothly all of this power generating capability could be online within a couple of years, with more proposed wind farms still in the works.
From permitting application to fully operational Maine will have brought online 2/3 the electrical generating capacity of the now decommissioned Maine Yankee Nuclear power plant. This will have happened in a fraction of the time it would take to permit and build a modern nuclear power plant for a fraction of the cost and none of the long term risk. Furthermore, the wind farm projects are spread out across the state bringing desperately needed local jobs to communities across the state. Best of all, this will be zero CO2, clean, renewable energy with none of the hazardous waste or pollution that is produced by nuclear or fossil fuel based power plants.
Could Maine really become energy independent within ten years? Well, at least from a power generation standpoint, the answer is yes, this is a very achievable goal. Maine won't be able to do it on wind power alone, but if wind generation capacity is coupled with solar, hydro and tidal energy projects we could become the first state in the U.S. to have a 100% renewable energy grid. We will, however, still need to work really hard to reduce our dependence on oil, especially when it comes to heating our homes.
Maine Wind Farms and Production Capacity
Source: Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Last updated: 3/4/2010
|Location||Owner Operator||Max Capacity (MW)||Number of Turbines||kWh/yr Produced/ Projected||Phase (year)||Equivalent # of Maine homes supplied|
|Live||Being Built||Proposed||Live||Permit Approved||Permit Applied For|
|Mars Hill, Aroostook||First Wind||42.0||28||2007||25,000|
|Stetson Ridge, Washington County||First Wind||57.0||38||169,269,000||2009||23,500|
|Beaver Ridge, Freedom, Waldo County||Patriot Renewables, LLC||4.5||3||12,500,000||2008||2,000|
|Kibby & Skinner Townships Franklin County||TransCanada||66.0||66.0||43||357,000,000||2009||50,000|
|Lincoln, Lee, Winn, Burlington & Mattawamkeag, Penobscot County||First Wind||60.0||40||168,000,000||2009||23,500|
|Stewart-Bald Mountains and Briggs-Burnt Hill, Highland Plantation, Somerset County||Independence Wind||130.5||48||360,000,000||2009||48,000|
|Jimmey and Owl Mountains, Washington County||First Wind||25.5||17||81,468,000||2009||11,500|
|Vinalhaven, Knox County||Fox Islands Wind, LLC||4.5||3||11,600,000||1,500|
|Spruce Mountain, Woodstock, Oxford County||Patriot Renewables, LLC||20.0||11||55,000,000||2010||8,500|
|Saddleback Ridge, Carthage, Franklin County||Patriot Renewables, LLC||34.5||19||106,000,000||2010||16,500|
|Sisk Mountain, Kibby and Chain of Ponds Townships, Franklin County||TransCanada||45.0||15||120,000,000||2009||17,000|
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