Via today's Bangor Daily News: the member-customers of the Fox Islands Electric Cooperative, which provides power to the islands of North Haven and Vinalhaven in Penobscot Bay, have overwhelmingly voted to go ahead with a wind power project that will provide enough electricity for the islands' 1500 permanent residents.
The islands currently import their electricity via an undersea cable. That cable will continue to provide back-up power during calm periods, but over the course of the year, the Cooperative expects to export 10,000 surplus megawatt-hours of electricity to the mainland - enough to pay for the project and reduce local electric rates. You can learn more about the complete proposal from the Fox Islands Electric Cooperative website.
It's interesting to compare this project with last year's Black Nubble proposal in Carrabasset Valley. That project was larger, with more turbines, but also further away from homes and less visible than the Fox Islands project will be. Why such overwhelming support for a project on Maine's prized coastline, and such bitter opposition for a project in one of Maine's poorest regions?
I was at one of the public hearings for the Carrabassett Valley project. The people opposing it were classical Jackass Environmentalists: dregs of the baby-boom, the Crummiest Generation, who had for decades fetishized a fantasy idea of "wild nature," and in their retirement sought out their dream of living in an isolated little cabin next to a huge ski resort. Wide, permanent clearcuts on Maine's second-tallest mountain don't bother them (because that's where they ski!), but a few wind turbines on the horizon would have been an unforgivable blight on the landscape. These are people who love quoting Thoreau but hate the actual practice of self-reliance.
Living on an island, on the other hand, does require real sacrifices and independence. The Fox Islands are a 75 minute ferry ride - in fair weather - from the mainland and its conveniences. Many islanders still make their living by harvesting the ocean's natural resources. These are people whom Thoreau would admire, even if they themselves would be more likely to judge Henry David as an insufferable Masshole.
I guess Fox Island residents just have more spine and less whine than the Quixotes of Carrabassett Valley. Thank goodness for that.