The wind farm in Clifton is on track to triple its energy capacity in the upcoming years by constructing five bigger wind turbines to join the existing five.
Two weeks ago, the Clifton planning board approved a pre-application plan for the 20-megawatt Silver Maple Wind Project, which will be an expansion of the 9-megawatt Pisgah Mountain wind energy project, according to meeting minutes.
The expansion will be developed by Halifax, Nova Scotia-based firm SWEB, a subsidiary of Austrian developer WEB Windenergie, which operates more than 200 wind farms across the world. SWEB first got involved in the Clifton wind farm project as partners to help locally owned Pisgah Mountain LLC purchase the original five turbines. However, according to documents filed by SWEB with the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Silver Maple Wind Project will be fully owned by SWEB.
The project is in its initial stages, with much of the engineering design and timeline yet to be decided. The company has filed a pre-application with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. However, the town does not have to wait for DEP’s decision to approve the project from its end, according to the planning board’s discussion recorded in the meeting minutes.
“We’ve initiated the process, but we’re still completing some of the deliverables for both DEP and municipal permits,” said Micahel Carey, development manager for SWEB.
Silver Maple will not share the Pisgah Mountain’s energy contract with Emera Maine, according to a June 2018 ruling by the utilities commission.
“The new project will have its own independent power purchase agreement and therefore will not be a Community-Based Renewable Energy project,” wrote Harry Lanphear, administrative director of the utilities commission, in the ruling.
“This project won’t have the same energy contract but it will have much of the same infrastructure,” Carey said, referring to the shared land and roads. He expects more details, including the cost of the project, to be released this summer.
Some local residents have already expressed concerns about the proposed expansion.
Teresa Davis, a resident of the neighboring town of Otis, said it is unfair for Clifton and Otis residents to experience sound from the turbines and the “shadow flicker,” a strobe-like effect of light and shadow caused by the rotation of the turbine blades.
“I live 4.3 miles away and I can hear them in my home,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair visually, either.”