Working toward an end-of-the-year deadline to complete construction of a 28-turbine wind farm on Mars Hill Mountain, contractors have completed more than half of the towers and expect to start generating electricity before Dec. 31.
Of the 28 windmills that will be erected in developer Evergreen Wind Power’s project, 15 were complete by Friday and outfitted with blades.
“We are in the process of commissioning the turbines. We anticipate we will meet our goal of actual power generation before the end of 2006,” project officials said in a statement.
Contractors for UPC Wind Management LLC of Newton, Mass., Evergreen’s parent company, started work on what will become New England’s biggest wind-power development early this year.
At full capacity, it will provide the equivalent power needs of 45,000 average Maine homes.
The windmills that have begun appearing at the crest of the northern Maine mountain were fabricated in three sections each, then lifted into place by large cranes. Fully constructed, each tower is more than 260 feet tall. The 115-foot blades are being hoisted into place on the turbines.
One of the biggest challenges of the project has been putting the components into place amid continual wind atop Mars Hill Mountain, project officials said.
While the northern Maine project nears completion, an application for a proposal to build 30 wind turbines on top of Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain in western Maine’s Redington Township remains under review by state officials in Augusta.
Developers have said the proposed wind farm would provide energy needs for 40,000 Maine homes.
The state Land Use Regulation Commission staff had reviewed a record of documents from the public and interested organizations measuring 3 feet thick, and prepared a recommendation on the project, LURC Executive Director Catherine Carroll said Friday.
But Carroll said it would be premature to comment on even the general thrust of the recommendation because it is being reviewed for legal soundness by the Attorney General’s Office. The review, she explained, could result in changes to the recommendation that will go to the full Land Use Regulation Commission.
Endless Energy Corp. of Yarmouth and Edison Mission Group of Irvine, Calif., partners in the Redington project, say it would turn out power while offsetting the need to pump hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollutants into the air.
Carroll said other prospective developers have expressed interest in wind projects. TransCanada has been working closely with LURC in preparation for submitting an application for a project in Kibby Township north of Stratton Mountain.
“I feel confident they will be getting an application to us,” said Carroll.
UPC, developer of the Mars Hill project, has been looking at a site at Stetson Ridge in northern Washington County. LURC also has issued permits for companies to put up wind-measuring devices in Aroostook, Washington and Somerset counties.
Regulation of transmission line construction associated with the wind farms comes under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Carroll said.
By Bangor Daily News Staff
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