Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wind power backers eye Lincoln sites

Bangor Daily News

By Nick Sambides Jr.
Thursday, March 20, 2008

LINCOLN, Maine - The backers of what will be New England's largest wind-energy facility, a 38-turbine wind farm in Washington County, are considering expanding into the Lincoln Lakes region, town officials said Wednesday.

Evergreen Wind Power LLC has built two meteorological towers worth $90,000 near Rocky Dundee Road and Grandma’s Mountain off Route 6 near the Lee line to test those areas’ suitability for wind-energy towers.

No one knows if, or when, power generating towers will be built on the two properties. However, the town planning board on Tuesday night began reviewing other towns’ regulations regarding wind power towers to possibly create its own legislation, if it is needed, board member Mike Cole said.

"It’s a sensible precaution," Cole said Wednesday, calling Evergreen’s plans "a big mystery ... We want to better our knowledge of these things in case they start coming before us."

Evergreen and Dundee Wind Power LLC, were formed by parent company UPC Wind of Newton, Mass., to handle the Lincoln Lakes project. Matt Kearns, project manager with UPC, and company spokesman John Lamontagne did not immediately return calls Wednesday.

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.

Town officials have been working with UPC on its tentative Lincoln plans intermittently for about five years, Town Manager Glenn Aho said.

"In the short term, this [UPC’s possible investment] is a lot of jobs coming to the region," Aho said Wednesday, "and in the long run, it’s steady employment, if this project comes to fruition."

Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission voted 5-0 in January to approve UPC’s application for the Stetson Mountain site located between Danforth and Springfield. The 38 turbines 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. Construction is expected to begin after mud season. UPC hopes the wind farm will be operational by summer, Kearns said.

The company is still seeking approval of a power line route from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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 used by 27,500 Maine households. Power from the wind farm will flow into the New England power grid.

UPC Wind also operates a 28-turbine wind farm in the Aroostook County town of Mars Hill.

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