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Promoters offer briefing on the power in wind

ROXBURY – Two meteorological studies under way on area peaks could yield an affordable, pollution-free option for producing some of New England’s electricity.

Brunswick-based Independence Wind LLC, a Maine company formed to create large-scale wind projects in Maine and elsewhere in New England, partnered this summer with area landowner Bayroot LLC and its land manager, Wagner Forest Management of Lyme, N.H.

They formed a company called Record Hill Wind LLC, which wants to develop wind power on a portion of Bayroot’s lands in Byron and Roxbury.

Independence Wind is owned by former Maine Gov. Angus King and Rob Gardiner, former president of Maine Public Broadcasting.

In August, they erected two 297-foot-tall meteorological towers, one on a Flathead Mountain ridge in Roxbury and the other on a ridge on Record Hill in Byron and Roxbury to collect wind data during Maine’s six-month wind season – fall through spring.

The other is UPC Wind, a wind power company based in Newton, Mass., with offices in Maine, and elsewhere.

UPC Wind owns and operates Maine’s first wind farm, the Mars Hill project, which has 28 wind turbines generating 42 megawatts of power in Aroostook County. On Nov. 7, UPC Wind gained approval from the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission on its rezoning petition and preliminary plan to create a 57-megawatt wind farm on Stetson Mountain in Washington County.

In August, UPC Wind subsidiary Long Fellow Wind LLC erected a 150-foot-tall weather monitoring tower on North Twin Mountain in Rumford.

Independence Wind has met four times with Byron and Roxbury residents to field concerns about its proposed wind farm.

UPC Wind is concentrating on its Stetson project. However, it eventually plans to hold informational meetings with Rumford residents and selectmen.

“We’re all in the same business and we wish them well,” Matt Kearns, UPC Wind’s director of development for the Northeast region, said of Record Hill Wind in a telephone interview on Thursday afternoon. “It’s an exciting time for wind industry. So far, we’ve had lots of tremendous support (from Rumford).”

At Wednesday night’s informational meeting in Roxbury, Gardiner and King outlined their project, which is in the preliminary engineering and environmental stage.

It’s preliminary for UPC, too, said Kearns.

“We haven’t chosen any particular areas yet, but we’re starting to take a look at environmental due diligence and preliminary engineering. We’ll look at it very broadly at first and consult with people in the environmental field, and the community and community leaders. It’s like making sausage. It’s not particularly pretty, but the end product is good,” Kearns said.

Record Hill Wind’s project calls for 23 to 29 towers along five miles of ridge in a straight line from Partridge Peak in Roxbury north to Old Turk Mountain in Byron, at elevations of between 2,000 and 2,500 feet. Each turbine tower will be 250-feet high with three blades that are each nearly 150 feet long.

King said Wednesday night Record hopes to file a permit application with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection by July. They could get a decision from the state by March 2009, start construction that year, and begin creating electricity in 2010.

“We could find out there’s not enough wind, but we think there is. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing this,” King said. “We don’t know who will buy the power…but people who pay for the power might be in Lewiston, Portland, Bangor or Boston. Will this project solve global warming? No. Will it make a dent in fossil fuel consumption? Yes.”

By Terry Karkos
Staff Writer

Lewiston Sun Journal

16 November 2007