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T16 wind farm application under review

TOWNSHIP 16 – The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) has accepted for review a permit application for a $78.5-million, 34-megawatt wind farm on Bull Hill and Heifer Hill.

Blue Sky East, LLC, a subsidiary of Boston-based wind developer First Wind, filed the application Jan. 31.

“Ideally, we’d like to start construction on the Bull Hill project this year,” said First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne in an e-mail. “It’s hard to say when that start would be, but we’re certainly shooting to get it started before the end of 2011.”

If the LURC approves the application, construction could take between six months and a year, according to Lamontagne.

The project may well extend beyond Township 16. First Wind has approached the neighboring town of Eastbrook about the possibility of erecting turbines on Little Bull Hill.

Eastbrook residents recently approved ordinance changes allowing and regulating wind development in town.

“We’re certainly interested in potentially expanding the project into Eastbrook, and we’re looking forward to working with town officials to explore that possibility,” Lamontagne said.

First Wind’s permit application is for the installation of 19, 1.8 MW Vestas wind turbines in T16. The turbines would be approximately 476 feet tall with blades fully extended.

The project also would involve use of new and existing roads, an underground electrical collection system, a substation, an operations and maintenance building and up to four permanent meteorological towers.

Power from the project would connect directly from the new substation to existing Bangor Hydro Line 66.

According to the application, the wind speed at the site averages 7.2 meters per second, placing it between a Class II and Class III wind.

Wind power is typically measured on a scale of seven with Class 7 winds being the strongest.

The nearest turbine would be about 1.9 miles from Molasses Pond and 3,882 feet from the nearest dwelling, according to the application.