Bitter Wind: A Town Divided Over A Controversial Maine Wind Farm

The winning entry in the 2015 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest explores the competing economic interests and sharply divergent worldviews that emerge over plans to erect wind turbines on a scenic ridgeline in Maine. Videographer Roger Smith captures both sides of a debate that divides a rural New England community.

2015 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest

The proposal seemed straightforward: Erect 16 wind turbines on hilltops in rural Maine and generate enough electricity to power 25,000 homes and enough tax revenue to help a struggling local government in a depressed region. But the 450-foot turbines of the Bowers Wind farm would be seen from miles away in the picturesque Grand Lake Stream area, and objections to their presence set up a conflict that pitted neighbor against neighbor.

Video Award First Place

In this nine-minute video, winner of the 2015 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, videographer Roger Smith presents the viewpoints of the local proponents and opponents of the $100 million project. Those in favor see a revenue-generating, job-producing, green-energy boon for the region, with minimal environmental impact. Those opposed — including owners of the fishing, hunting, and tourist camps — see an eyesore that would mar Grand Lake Stream’s scenic vistas and drive away visitors.

Soon enough, class divisions emerge, with some locals who support the project saying that the camp operators and owners of vacation homes were edging out longtime residents. “We’re in a different class from them — they got money and a big camp on the lake,” says Travis Worster. “We’re just the people that used to live here.”