OAKFIELD, Maine – The state’s top environmental agency approved a 150-megawatt industrial wind site on Oakfield Hills on Wednesday that will cost about $360 million.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s approval is the project’s final state regulatory hurdle, though a local group opposing the project is expected to file a civil court appeal. The project still needs a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit, said Alec Jarvis, development manager for First Wind of Massachusetts.
Town Manager Dale Morris greeted the news with satisfaction. The project, he said, enjoys vast support in Oakfield. Residents supported the project’s project tax agreement with an 80-20 town meeting vote and its community benefits agreement was approved 100-1.
“The fiscal value of the project is huge,” Morris said Wednesday. “On paper it has the potential to be a lot of good things for the area as long as it is executed in the right fashion.”
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court rejected a previous appeal of an earlier, smaller version of the Oakfield Hills project in March 2011.
As proposed by First Wind, the expanded and revised project will consist of 50 3.0-megawatt turbines that have the capacity to produce enough renewable energy to power more than 48,000 homes, First Wind officials said.
It is expected to employ as many as 400 construction workers for the year of construction, which is expected to start in mid- to late 2012, Jarvis said.
Once the project is finished, the tax agreement calls for the town receiving $14.7 million in tax revenues over 20 years and an additional $12 million in community benefits during that time.
Tax increment financing funds from the project will pay for several town projects, including:
• $2.5 million for construction of a public safety building that will house police and firefighters.
• $750,000 for three firetrucks.
• $7.5 million for road reconstruction.
The project’s financing is not yet assembled and won’t be until all permits are issued, Jarvis said.
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