Wind power is in its infancy in Maine, a TransCanada Energy Ltd. representative told Franklin County commissioners Tuesday.
The panel received an update on the proposed Kibby Wind Power project in northern Franklin County and asked questions of company representatives.
An application was filed with Maine Land Use Regulation Commission on Jan. 8 to rezone 2,900 acres and to build the wind farm on ridges of the Boundary Mountains. A fifth volume of documents about the project was filed last week with LURC, project manager Nick Di domenico told commissioners.
Wind power has been measured and environmental studies conducted on birds, bats, and Canadian lynx among others with results incorporated into the application.
Once the application is deemed complete, it will be provided to the public, Di domenico said.
A public hearing on the project is possible for June but July would be more realistic, he said.
The company wants to have some turbines operational in late 2008 with the remainder operating in 2009, he said.
“We’ve spent $4 (million) to $5 million developing the site,” he said. The company’s investment in the project is expected to top $250 million.
TransCanada would be the largest taxpayer in Franklin County’s unorganized territory if the project is approved, contributing more than $1 million in annual tax revenue that would be paid to the state.
The company has also offered $1,000 per megawatt generated per year or about a $132,000-annual-community-benefits package to the town of Eustis, the closest town to the project, and it has been accepted, he said. Additionally, the town would also receive about $25,000 in taxes annually for transmission lines.
The project entails siting 44, three-megawatt turbines on private land that is actively managed for forestry on Kibby Mountain (17 to 19 turbines) and Kibby Range (25 to 27 turbines) in Kibby Township and Skinner Township, about 8 miles north of Eustis. The closest residence would be 1.2 miles away.
The company proposes to erect 12 turbines sited below 2,700 feet and no turbines sited above 3,210 feet. The total height of wind towers including blades would be 410 feet.
The closest turbine is 15.5 miles away from the Appalachian Trail, he said.
The project would utilize 18.8 miles of existing roads, 17.4 miles of new roads initially 34 feet wide, with a permanent width of 20 feet.
There would also be more than 25 miles of transmission line corridor to connect to Central Maine Power Co.’s Bigelow substation.
The project is expected to generate an average of 357 kilowatt hours per year, which is equivalent to the electricity needs of about 50,000 homes, Di domenico said.
Power would be first marketed to institutional and commercial users in Maine and the remainder sold to other users in New England.
By reducing the use of fossil-fuel-fired power plants, the project would displace annually: 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is roughly the equivalent to the annual emissions from 35,000 average U.S. cars; 90 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 350 tons of sulfur dioxide, both major contributors to acid rain and smog, according to a project pamphlet.
It is expected the project will produce about 250 jobs at peak construction and 10 to 12 permanent jobs to operate and maintain the facility, he said.
The company has worked with the Maine Audubon Society and other environmental groups and agencies early on and sited the project away from specific species habitats, TransCanada representative Christine Cinnamon said.
By Donna M. Perry
18 April 2007
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