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State comittee decides in favor of Bull Hill wind project

ELLSWORTH – Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission met in the city Wednesday to discuss two potential wind projects in the state.

The commission granted the energy company “First Wind LLC” the permit needed to start a wind project on Bull Hill, which is in Township 16 in Hancock County just east of the town of Eastbrook. That project entails building 19 turbines on Bull Hill which developers expect will generate enough electricity to power up to 15,000 homes each year.

LURC commissioners also discussed a second project that “First Wind” wants to erect on Bowers Mountain, which would see 27 turbines built across two ridgelines east of Lincoln running in Penobscot and Washington counties.

Developers also say that project has the potential to power thousands of homes each year if approved. The hearing was also attended by many groups against the project who worry what its effect will be on tourism.

“We’ve heard from fishing and hunting clients that say if they wanted to look at turbines while they’re fishing or paddling or what have you..they could stay in New Jersey,” said Gary Campbell who is with the “Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes Watershed,” “so we’re certain that it’s going to have an impact.”

“We have avoided any kind of environmental issues in terms of natural resources or high value habitat with this site,” said Neil Kiely, who is the developer for the Bowers Mountain project, “its industrial timberline. It’s been heavily cut in the past, it will be heavily cut again…so from an environmental perspective…its an ideal site.”

The commission will vote in two weeks on whether building turbines on Bowers Mountain will create a ‘scenic impact’ on the area. It is expected to make its final decision in December.

“First Wind” is hoping to start development on Bull Hill by early next year.