Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wind farm company says Lincoln a potential site

Bangor News

By Nick Sambides Jr.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

LINCOLN - Data gathered at Rocky Dundee Road and Grandma’s Mountain off Route 6 show the sites could support a Stetson Mountain-sized wind farm for electricity generation, the site’s prospective operator said Monday.

Matt Kearns, project manager with UPC Wind of Massachusetts, said it’s too soon to decide whether to build a wind farm in Lincoln, but the data show that "it’s a reasonable site.

"It has potential to be developed as a generation site," Kearns said. "There are lots of other variables that need to be evaluated and there are other variables that affect the potential feasibility of the project, but the wind resource information supports continued investigation."

Evergreen Wind Power LLC, a subsidiary of UPC Wind, built two meteorological towers worth $90,000 on the sites late last year to test the suitability of both areas for wind-energy towers. Landowner David Susen of Lincoln received a building permit for a $30,000 tower on a farm near the mountain on Nov. 1. Landowner Herbert Haynes Jr. of Lakeville Shores Inc. of Winn received a building permit for a $60,000 tower on Rocky Dundee Road the same day, town records indicate.

UPC Wind is building what will be New England’s largest wind-energy facility on its Stetson Mountain site, between Danforth and Springfield. Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission unanimously approved UPC’s plan in early January.

As proposed, the company’s 38 turbines each will stand roughly 390 feet from base to blade tip and will be spaced out along the ridgeline, which runs roughly parallel to Route 169 for about seven miles. The turbines will be located primarily along existing logging roads.

Once operational, the Stetson wind farm is expected to generate 57 megawatts of pollution-free electricity annually. Company officials said that is the equivalent of the yearly electricity use of 27,500 Maine households. Power from the farm will flow into the New England power grid.

UPC Wind already runs the 28-turbine wind farm in Mars Hill in northern Maine that generates enough pollution-free electricity to power about 15,000 New England homes, company officials said. That facility, New England’s largest, sells power wholesale to electricity retailers over the grid.

Town Economic Development Assistant Ruth Birtz welcomed the news of the successful test results in Lincoln. She said town officials would do what they can to help make the project a reality.

"This sounds like it can be very beneficial for the area," Birtz said.

The town planning board has begun reviewing prospective wind farm regulations to see whether adopting them is advisable.

If all goes well, Kearns said, Lincoln’s site would be "of similar magnitude" to Stetson Mountain. It would employ five full-time workers and seven to 10 contractors from General Electric, the company that manufactures the turbines.

"We are very aware of the desire to deliver local benefits from these projects. That’s a big part of our plan going forward, to make sure that projects are delivering clear local benefits," he said.

Testing is continuing. The company hopes to have a decision made on its Lincoln plans by the end of the year and will meet with the Town Council to update it within the next several months. About 100 people are employed full time and part time as consultants vetting the Lincoln project, Kearns said.

"There’s no mystery. The thing has to work," Kearns said. "People have to want it there and be ready to work with us to accommodate the project. It’s a big step forward. It will represent real positive economic development in the area, but it is a big change and people have to look at it together and be comfortable with it."



No comments: