Wind energy: corporate welfare payments?
To the Editor:
It’s an undisputable fact that local or regional economic development must ensure numerous permanent jobs for our residents.
In Rumford, for over two years, we’ve heard the call for economic development in the form of allowing the installation of industrial scale wind turbines. Those echoes have been coupled with the false claim of numerous permanent jobs in Maine.
Let's me clear, installing wind turbines on our pristine mountains is not a form of economic development. Each Maine town or region must think local when they discuss real economic development. If an industrial business cannot provide numerous local or regional permanent jobs, like the Rumford paper mill or the Irving Company did in the 20th and 21st century, it is not a form of economic development.
The wind industry appears to offer a form of corporate welfare when they provide a small amount of tax revenue identified as funds available for economic development. We have come to understand that sustained welfare in any form has not advanced our society; it has weakened our society. The annual funds offered are a very small part of the wind industry’s profits and never guarantee any level of economic development and new jobs. They are actually buying our mountains on the cheap. We must not be bamboozled by profit seeking, subsidy embraced, wind developers into losing our local environmental advantage (scenic mountains, valleys and rivers).
Real economic development cannot be achieved by accepting the Wind Industry welfare payments. We must take a few positive steps in our River Valley region to manage our local affairs to create real economic development with the addition of numerous permanent jobs. We can start by getting serious about consolidation of our River Valley services in 2011 to begin the need to cut costs while ensuring excellent service levels.
Next year’s budget process in each RV town should include provisions to cut costs through real efficiencies. River Valley needs to build on the need for regional synergy and a collective power base to influence, sell and attract new businesses to our region. I’m hopeful that Rumford, Mexico, Dixfield and Peru will agree to begin a serious discussion resulting in the necessary analysis and agreements for consolidation of selected services during 2011 and 2012. Perhaps a citizen group will take the initiatives to begin the analysis process. We cannot do it alone. We need each other!