Monday, December 27, 2021


“Too cheap to meter” was a claim made by proponents of nuclear power plants to generate electricity in the 1950s. We’ve since learned that was wildly optimistic. Since then we’ve heard similar pie-in-the-sky claims made by proponents of “renewable energy” touting wind and solar electric generating projects in Maine and just about everywhere else. “It’s free; it’s limitless; it’s clean," and so forth.

Those power sources can work so long as the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. They don’t generate anything during calm, still nights, however, when people still need electricity. The old-fashioned, nuclear and fossil-fuel generators have to back up production of electricity at these times. Wind farms can also be very noisy, kill a lot of birds, and they can be unsightly as well protruding up to 650 feet above the hilltops on which they’re usually sited. The same people who enjoy looking at paintings of quaint, Dutch windmills can be put off seeing hills covered by enormous, modern windmills.

Lately we’re learning the drawbacks of industrial solar farms already built, under construction, and proposed in Maine. They’re noisy. They’re huge: The one proposed for Lovell would cover and area twice the size of the one in Fryeburg. Walden Renewables, the firm that got the enormous Fryeburg project approved, has sold it to a Canadian firm while it’s still being built. They promise, however, they wouldn’t do that to Lovell and we can trust them, right?

Lately we’re learning that solar panels are built in China using slaves. Even those built in Vietnam and elsewhere have in them key components like polysilicon produced in Xinjiang Province using Uyghur Muslim forced labor. Just this week, President Biden signed a bipartisan bill banning imports from Xinjiang Province that was opposed by Apple and Nike. Good for him. Does that ban include solar panels? I certainly hope so.

Back in 1986 we here in Lovell learned about one of the downsides of nuclear power when the US Department of Energy proposed burying highly radioactive spent fuel rods in the granite “batholith” that underlies southern Maine between Lovell and the City of Westbrook. However, within three months of the DOE’s proposal the Chernobyl nuclear power plant melted down in Russia’s Ural Mountains. That was only seven years after the Three Mile Island meltdown in Pennsylvania and the nuclear industry took a big hit. Within weeks, the US Department of Energy scrapped their plans for a nuclear waste dump in Maine.

One thing I don’t understand about Maine leftists is their opposition to the Clean Energy Corridor and their orchestration of its defeat on a recent referendum. The now-defunct corridor proposal would use an already-existing passageway for its power lines over most of its route and bring surplus hydroelectricity from a facility on Canada’s Hudson Bay. Quebec Hydro is a renewable power source. Yes, some additional trees would be cut to expand the corridor, but the operation produces no emissions. Isn’t zero emissions what the left wants?

We all depend on a reliable supply of electricity and we’re rudely reminded of that every time there is a power failure. It is in our interest to keep the supply steady and we should understand that renewable sources, with the possible exception of hydroelectricity, are not reliable. They’re intermittent and we need back-up sources. Nuclear power is close to 100% reliable and while it too has its drawbacks, like how to safely dispose of the waste, but it may well be our best choice at this point.

Meanwhile we have Walden Renewables LLC posing as Lovell’s best choice. It will produce no emissions; it will reduce our electric bills; it will provide tax revenue. But we have so ask ourselves: Is Walden really an industrial wolf in environmentalist sheep’s clothing?

“My, what big fields of solar panels you have,” we say. “The better to serve you with,” says Walden. “How ugly they are,” we say. “They’re only visible from 0.14% of the town,” says Walden. “What huge piles of waste you’ll leave when you’re gone,” we say. “We’ve included decommissioning costs in our proposal,” says Walden. But we don’t know what those costs will be in thirty years,” we say. “We’ve planned for that,” says Walden. “But there are toxic materials in your panels,” we say. “We’ll take care of those,” says Walden.

“And then three’s this,” says Walden. “Sheep can graze under our solar panels. We’ll even plant special, nutritious grass for them! It’s all in our proposal.”

Walden Renewables. It sounds so Thoreau-like, doesn’t it? With a name like that, we can trust them, right?

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