A proposal to build a 38-turbine wind farm in rural Washington County passed its first administrative hurdle recently when state regulators officially accepted the application for review.
The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission recently deemed as “complete for processing” Evergreen Wind Power LLC’s application to build a wind farm along Stetson Mountain in northern Washington County.
Later this week, LURC staff will ask the agency’s board to authorize a public hearing on the project, which, as proposed, would generate an estimated 150 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That is enough electricity to power roughly 27,500 homes.
Bangor-based Evergreen Wind Power hopes to erect 38 turbines on the ridgeline, which is located off Route 169 between the communities of Danforth and Springfield. Each turbine would stand roughly 400 feet tall from base to blade tip.
If constructed today, the project would become New England’s largest wind farm, although LURC also has received an application for a 44-turbine farm in northern Franklin County. Evergreen Wind Power is a subsidiary of UPC Wind and currently operates a turbine farm in Mars Hill.
LURC director Catherine Carroll said Friday that staff likely will soon begin sending notices to interested parties who may want to file for intervenor status in the review. Intervening parties are entitled to present evidence during the review as well as cross-examine witnesses during hearings.
Carroll said it is too early to give possible dates for public hearings on the Stetson project but that they could be held in summer or fall.
In documents filed with LURC as well as public statements, UPC Wind officials have said they chose Stetson Mountain because of its wind patterns, extensive network of logging roads and access to electricity infrastructure.
The nearest house – a small seasonal cabin – is also more than 2,500 feet away from the nearest turbine.
The 400-foot turbines will be visible from portions of Baskahegan Lake as well as Upper and Lower Hot Brook lakes, Mud Pond and a small portion of the Million Dollar View Scenic Byway on U.S. Route 1.
But company officials predict the site will encounter few of the concerns over scenic impact that have accompanied other wind projects, most notably a wind farm proposed for the mountains near Sugarloaf USA and the Appalachian Trail. LURC’s board appears poised to reject that project.
Company officials also predict that construction of the turbines, roads, power lines and related infrastructure will employ hundreds of people. That prospect has helped the project earn an early endorsement from some local officials.
“We are pleased that UPC Wind has proposed this project for Washington County as it will bring important benefits to the community, including jobs and clean wind technology,” Chris Gardner, chairman of the county commissioners, said in a statement.
“We are impressed with the initial plans “¦ and we look forward to making the Stetson wind project a reality,” Gardner said.
By Kevin Miller
30 April 2007
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