Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wiscasset sees plant as a boost for tax base

August 8, 2007

Dennis Hoey

WISCASSET — A proposed energy plant that would produce
electricity and clean-burning diesel fuel drew more than 150
people -- most of them Wiscasset residents -- to a public
hearing Tuesday night.

Although many questions were raised about the project, the
town that hosted the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant appears
to be warming to the idea of having another energy plant in the
same area.

One resident announced that she had created a Web site where
supporters of the project could learn more.

And Duane Goud, chairman of the selectmen, said that if the
Twin River Energy Center became operational it would provide
about 75 percent of the town's tax base.

That may not happen for some time because permitting and
construction of the plant could take as long as six years.

"This project will help restore Wiscasset's tax base and the loss
of jobs it sustained from the closure of Maine Yankee," Project
Manager Scott Houldin told the audience.

Last month, Houldin announced plans to build the Twin River
Energy Center on a 360-acre parcel owned by his parent
company, National RE/sources of Greenwich, Conn.

At the time, Houldin said the plant would produce a peak of 700
megawatts of electricity and as many 9,000 barrels per day of
diesel fuel by gasifying coal and wood biomass. He said co-
production increases efficiency and would make the center more
viable, economically and environmentally.

He said that coal would not be burned at the facility.

In addition to the energy plant, the site would include a research
and development center dedicated to reducing global-warming

The first step toward getting the project built is winning over
Wiscasset residents. The height of several buildings would
require an amendment to the building code.

Houldin revealed on Tuesday night that the gasification plant
building would be about 230 feet tall.

The Twin River Energy Center also would have to survive about
two years of review and permitting by state and federal

Though the project would certainly affect Wiscasset and its
neighbors -- its buildings would be visible from places such as
Westport Island -- Houldin said the benefits would outweigh the

The $1.5 billion project would create 200 permanent, full-time
jobs and roughly 750 construction jobs during the estimated
four-year construction phase. No local money would be needed.

Despite the project's economic benefits, several residents raised

Dave Lieser of nearby Cushman Point Road said he fears that
trucks carrying wood biomass and coal to the plant would
overwhelm the area's roads.

But Houldin said that, "Products will be delivered to the site by
rail or by barge. They will not come to the site by truck."

Houldin said one of the site's attractive features is its proximity
to the Back River and to a rail line that crosses the property.

Responding to a question from Jim Cromwell, Houldin said the
10 million gallons of water needed by the plant each day would
come from multiple sources, but not the Back River.

Dick Grondin, who lives on Birch Point Road, said he was
concerned about odors.

Houldin told him there would be none.

Peter Arnold, who represents the Chewonki Foundation, said his
organization, which provides environmental-based programs
and adventures, would keep a close eye on the project.

Chewonki is in the same area as the Twin River site.

"Our program depends on clean, quiet settings," Arnold said.
"We'll be watching and we will be listening."

Catherine Martin-Savage said she was establishing a Web site,
though "it's still a work in progress."

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be reached at 725-8795 or at

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