Both the Lubec Board of Selectmen and the planning board have received notice that KEAN Energy LLC is proposing a $10.5 million wind farm to be placed on property east of Route 191 in Lubec. The 4.5‑megawatt station would supply enough electricity to power nearly 1,800 homes, according to Peter Whitney of KEAN. Both town boards gave verbal support to the project, withholding a letter of endorsement until a scope of work statement is submitted.
Lubec does not currently have a wind ordinance. However, there is a draft recommendation to consider a wind ordinance in the revision of the comprehensive plan currently under consideration.
When KEAN proposed a wind farm in Whiting, residents there established a moratorium for up to 180 days on wind tower development in order to research information for a wind energy facility ordinance. At a meeting held in Whiting, KEAN officials expressed their support for wind turbine ordinances. In May 2010 Whiting residents voted in favor of the drafted ordinance and the moratorium ended. According to Kirk Nadeau of KEAN, the company is not actively pursuing wind energy in Whiting.
KEAN, formed in October 2009, is 100% Maine owned. Nadeau is from Turner, and Whitney is originally from Jonesboro. They described the company as “100% local Maine operated, maintained and financed” to the board of selectmen on September 16. The firm has begun work on an approved wind project in Jonesport. Speaking to citizens of Lubec, the pair stressed “synergy [of wind energy] with the natural resource based economy” of the region.
Wind power timeline
Initially, KEAN proposes to place a meteorological station at the site in Lubec to perform wind studies over a three to six month period, then they would proceed according to state regulations, including the Natural Resource Protection Act. The wind study will continue for 12 months.
In anticipation of receiving necessary state permits by the end of next summer, Nadeau told the planning board the company plans to begin construction next fall, with installation of the turbines and completion of the balance of the physical plant by spring of 2012. Commercial operation of the towers is scheduled for fall of 2012, pending endorsement by the town and state.
Nadeau told the board that the project is capitalized for the feasibility development phase of the project.
The proposed wind tower area is 4,000 feet from the closest home, nearly three times what the state requires. The site elevation is 160 feet, according to KEAN. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is charged with overseeing the site location. Towers would be 400 feet from the base to the tower tip, according to Nadeau. Less than three acres of the total area would be permanently developed. A considerable amount of road currently extends through the property, but KEAN must make improvements to the road, both temporary and long‑term.
In November 2009, the DEP commented on the KEAN Energy project proposed for Whiting. Jessica Damon, a DEP specialist, said that the site location law is triggered by a development’s creation of three acres or more of impervious surfaces or 20 acres of development. Even if a development does not fall into the site location law, there are still a number of reviews still necessary. Damon listed the small‑scale wind site certification, the storm‑water permit for more than an acre of impervious surface and the Natural Resources Protection Act.
KEAN approached Ricky Wilcox, owner of the proposed site, about four months ago. Over time Wilcox acquired three parcels of land on that side of Route 191, totaling 530 acres. “I would like to keep it that way [undivided],” reflects Wilcox of the large parcel. However, he notes the “substantial tax burden” he foresees over time. Wilcox sees the project as an agreeable way to manage the property.
Some of the land is now in tree growth management. The wind tower developers plan to remove 25 acres out of tree growth, paying the fees and interest on the change in designation. KEAN has secured a 30‑year lease option from Wilcox.
According to KEAN, residents will have access to aggregate meters in order to be able to buy wind power credits and lower the cost of electricity bills by some 10%. Selectmen noted the personal property tax valuation – estimated at $120,000 to $160,000 – as a benefit to the town. They were reminded that with a normal depreciation schedule of a 20‑year life cycle the tax revenue could be short lived. Some towns consider an alternative TIF or Tax Increment Financing, which may have a longer lasting impact as a revenue stream for the town. In any event, KEAN as the leaseholder for the property, would be responsible for the taxes on the property and equipment.
Nadeau reported that KEAN, “as a socially responsible company, will eventually put 1% of our electricity sales gross revenue to a community‑based incentive fund.” Supporting local educators regarding energy curriculum is also part of the company’s mission.
KEAN representatives invite residents to an informational public meeting on Wednesday, October 6, at 6 p.m. at the Lubec school cafeteria.