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Lincoln: Wind power firm eyes town for expansion

LINCOLN, Maine – As many as 35 electricity-generating windmills might be built in town by a Massachusetts firm that plans to meet with the Town Council later this month to discuss its plans.

Evergreen Wind Power LLC, a subsidiary of UPC Wind of Massachusetts, will meet with the Town Council on June 16, Town Council Chairman Steve Clay and interim Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said.

“They are coming to announce their intentions in this area,” Clay said of the project. “It could mean a lot.”

It was unclear how much of the meeting would be in open forum or executive session.

Clay and Goodwin declined further comment. Town Economic Development Assistant Ruth Birtz declined to comment.

Company spokesman John LaMontaigne said he welcomed the opportunity to speak in detail about the proposed generation facility at the council meeting. Speaking in detail before that would be premature, he said.

Matt Kearns, project manager with UPC Wind, declined to comment earlier this week.

Evergreen built two meteorological towers worth $90,000 at Rocky Dundee Road and Grandma’s Mountain off Route 6 late last year to test the suitability of both areas for wind-energy towers. About 100 people are employed full time and part time as consultants vetting the Lincoln project.

Landowner David Susen of Lincoln received a building permit for a $30,000 tower on a farm near the mountain on Nov. 1. Landowner Herbert Haynes Jr. of Lakeville Shores Inc. in Winn received a building permit for a $60,000 tower on Rocky Dundee Road the same day, town records indicate.

Several sources speaking on condition of anonymity painted a broad-stroke portrait of the proposed Lincoln development that, if true, would match UPC’s Stetson Mountain project, the largest wind farm in New England.

The Stetson Mountain site is between Danforth and Springfield. As proposed, the company’s 38 turbines each will stand roughly 390 feet from base to blade tip and will be spaced out along the ridgeline, which runs roughly parallel to Route 169 for about seven miles. The turbines will be located primarily along existing logging roads.

Once operational, the Stetson wind farm is expected to generate as much as 57 megawatts of pollution-free electricity at any given time. Company officials said that is the equivalent of the yearly electricity use of 27,500 Maine households.

Power from the farm will flow into the New England power grid for sale to power companies. While it likely will not be allowed to sell electricity directly to retail consumers, the farm would help provide stable electricity for consumers and hedge against runaway electricity price spikes and brownouts seen in California.

UPC Wind already runs the 28-turbine wind farm in Mars Hill in northern Maine that generates enough electricity to power about 15,000 New England homes, company officials said. That facility, New England’s largest, sells power wholesale to electricity retailers over the grid.

Sources place Lincoln’s project at 22 to 35 windmills. It would employ five full-time workers and seven to 10 contractors from General Electric, the company that manufactures the turbines, and would be built over the next two years.

By Nick Sambides Jr.

Bangor Daily News

9 June 2008