Plans to build New England’s largest wind farm in southern Aroostook County were submitted to state regulators Thursday, according to developer EDP Renewables.
Kellen Ingalls, a project manager with EDP, said Friday the company hopes to have the project reviewed and approved by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection within six months and begin operations by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017.
“We don’t have a crystal ball for the timing, but we’re hoping to meet the six-month statutory timeline with DEP,” Ingalls said. “We’ll do everything that we can to move that process along.”
Ingalls said the company is still working with towns in the area on local permitting matters and with the state’s two major utilities – Emera and Central Maine Power Co. – to build a 50-mile transmission line that would connect it to the regional grid in Haynesville.
The transmission line would use a right-of-way known as the “Bridal Path,” between Houlton and Haynesville.
Maine regulators had not posted the complete application to the DEP website Friday.
The project, which would have up to 119 turbines, would be located about 9 miles west of Bridgewater.
The company said it plans to build a benefits package worth about $2 million for neighboring communities that would help reduce energy costs for people in the area by paying for installation of high-efficiency heat pumps and other energy-efficient upgrades.
The company’s plans for the so-called Number Nine Wind Farm were reinvigorated in 2013, when the company secured long-term contracts for two Connecticut utilities to purchase the power it would generate.
The Houston-based company’s power purchase agreements with Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating call for it to begin delivering power by 2016, which Ingalls said plays a role in the company’s timeline. EDP, whose corporate parent Energias de Portugal is headquartered in Madrid, Spain, said in 2013 it hoped to begin construction this year.
It operates 21 wind farms around the country, according to its website.
The Number Nine project would be about 35 percent larger than the state’s biggest wind farm to date, which is located near the town of Bingham. That SunEdison project started construction this summer and has a nameplate capacity of 185 megawatts.
EDP Renewables estimates the Number Nine Wind Farm project would require hiring about 300 people in Aroostook County during construction. The company said it already has spent about $2 million there developing the project.
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