The proposed wind farm in Maine that state energy officials awarded a huge long-term energy contract to disclosed details of the project Tuesday after questions surfaced last week about the developer’s control of the project site.
Bill Whitlock, executive vice president of the east region for EDP Renewables North America, said that the company has leased all 58,467 acres of land required to build the Number Nine Wind Farm, named for a small pond just west of Bridgewater, Maine.
He said the company has plans to acquire land rights for the 50 miles needed to connect the project to the electric grid.
The Connecticut energy department chose the development for a 15-year contract after fielding dozens of proposals since July. Ratepayers, through Connecticut’s electric utilities, will purchase more than $1 billion in electricity and renewable energy credits from the project during the contract. The state expects the contract to save state ratepayers more than $200 million.
FuelCell Energy in Danbury and Allco Renewables in New York – both companies that submitted unsuccessful bids – have criticized the state’s choice on the grounds that the wind farm project apparently lacked control of the land for the development, a crucial requirement to win the contract.
EDP Renewables’ application stated that the company had leased the “majority” of land for the project and that it was working to lease the transmission easements.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which awarded the contract, said the project met the threshold for site control and called the companies’ concerns a misreading of the project requirements.
The issue of site control is important because it helps the state reduce the risks involved with giant power contracts, particularly that an approved project would be delayed or, worse, never materialize.
“This land area is more than is required to construct the 250-megawatt wind farm proposed,” Whitlock said. “Additional land may be secured for layout optimization which, although not necessary for project development, would improve overall project performance.”
Once completed, the wind farm would be the largest capacity wind farm in New England.
Plans for the wind farm call for 125 wind turbines over 91 square miles of hilly land in remote northern Maine, just miles from the Canadian border, according to site plans reviewed by The Courant.
The project will be EDP Renewables’ first in New England, where the best wind is, according to Whitlock. “The most competitive resources wind-wise in New England are in northern Maine,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
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