Friday, October 16, 2009

First half of Kibby wind project powers up today

State officials will mark completion of 22 of 44 windmills, the largest project in New England.

By GLENN ADAMS The Associated Press
October 16, 2009

AUGUSTA — Power generation from winds blowing across Maine will increase today when Gov. John Baldacci helps to start up the first half of the Kibby Mountain wind-power project in the state's western mountains.

Baldacci will join other state and local government officials and builders of TransCanada's project at the remote site in Franklin County. The ceremony will mark completion of the first 22 windmills and the start of their production of power, which will flow to Central Maine Power Co. and through its interconnections to the New England grid.

The second 22 windmills in the project on nearby Kibby Ridge are scheduled to be done by next August or September, said Corey Goulet, vice president of energy projects for the Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada. The portion of the project to be dedicated today will provide the equivalent average energy needs for 25,000 homes.

When all 44 windmills are complete, the Kibby wind farm will provide twice that power and be New England's largest wind power project. It has an overall cost of $320 million, said Goulet.

In addition to developing wind, hydro, gas-fired and nuclear power facilities, TransCanada has gas transmission pipelines all over the North America and is building an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

"I have never seen so much interest as I have in the state of Maine in wind projects and renewable energy in general," Goulet said Thursday.

Maine already has major operating wind farms, in Mars Hill and Stetson Mountain, both owned by FirstWind of Newton, Mass. Expansion of the Stetson project in eastern Maine is under way, and construction of a project near Rumford in western Maine, whose principals include former Gov. Angus King, is in progress.

State regulators have approved plans for FirstWind's Rollins wind-power project in northern Maine, and several other projects are in earlier stages of planning.

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