AURORA – First Wind is considering using fewer, but bigger, turbines for its proposed Hancock Wind project in the eastern part of the county.
The proposed change will be the subject of a public meeting set for Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Airline Community School in Aurora (26 Great Pond Road).
First Wind’s application to build an 18-turbine, 54-megawatt wind farm in Township 16 and Township 22 (located east of Eastbrook and Osborn, respectively) was approved last year. The new wind farm would be located to the north of the company’s existing Bull Hill project.
First Wind had applied to build turbines that are 512 feet tall. In a press release issued Tuesday, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said First Wind is now proposing a new turbine option, using a Vestas V117 turbine that is 574 feet tall (a 12.1 percent height increase).
If the larger turbines are approved, the company said it would need one less turbine for the project. The total number or turbines would stand at 18 instead of 17.
In a draft review of the project posted on the DEP’s website, the department said it had hired an independent scenic consultant to help determine how the taller turbines would affect scenic views.
That consultant, James F. Palmer, “concluded that there will be a slight increase in the extent of the area with potential visibility, and in the number of turbines visible from any particular viewpoint due to the increased turbine height.”
Palmer also said that the scenic benefit of one less turbine was “more than counterbalanced by the increased turbine height” that First Wind is proposing.
Using the larger turbines also would increase the potential power output from the project, because each turbine would produce more power. The 18 turbines would result in a 54-megawatt output, while the 17 turbines would produce a total of 56 megawatts.
All power generated at the new Hancock Wind project would flow to an expanded substation at the Bull Hill facility, according to DEP. The new project also would require the construction of an operations and maintenance building in Aurora.
In its press release, DEP said the “primary purpose of the meeting [on Thursday] is to gather public feedback of the Department’s draft staff analysis for the Hancock Wind Project.”
“DEP will take the comments voiced at the public meeting into consideration as its review moves forward before a final decision is issued this winter,” it concluded.
Anyone seeking more information about the proposed change and DEP’s review of it can contact DEP Project Manager Maria Eggett at 446-7120 or via email at Hancockwindproject.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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