Maine’s 2nd big wind farm set to launch

Posted Jan. 18, 2009, at 8:51 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A wind-energy project that will produce the equivalent power needs of 23,500 homes officially goes on line this week when Gov. John Baldacci attends an opening ceremony for the 57-megawatt project in Stetson.

The 38-turbine wind farm along Stetson Mountain’s long, low ridgeline of 600 to 1,200 feet is the second in the state completed by First Wind, whose Mars Hill project has been until now New England’s largest commercial wind power project. Together, they will produce just under 100 megawatts of power.

Baldacci on Thursday afternoon is to participate in the Stetson opening with First Wind president Paul Gaynor.

First Wind says Stetson alone will produce the equivalent to what would be produced by burning about 331,000 barrels of oil a year. The reduction of fossil fuels that would be burned will eliminate the emission of some 76,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, reducing global warming, the Newton, Mass., company said.

The Stetson project’s towers are 262 feet tall and blade diameters 253 feet, the company said. The turbine at maximum height is 389 feet tall.

Even as power begins flowing from the Stetson project, a 17-turbine extension known as Stetson II is in the permitting stages. TransCanada’s 44-turbine, 132-megawatt project on Kibby Mountain in western Maine, which will produce the equivalent power needs for 50,000 homes after its planned opening in 2010, is under construction.

Those and other projects not yet in construction phases move the state toward a goal set by the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power Development, which concluded that Maine should seek to host at least 2,000 megawatts of installed wind power capacity by 2015, and at least 3,000 megawatts by 2020. The task force believes that at least 300 megawatts of the 2020 goal could be achieved with projects built offshore.

While there are no formal offshore proposals, several besides Stetson II are in various planning or permitting stages.

First Wind wants to build a 40-turbine, 60-megawatt project called Rollins Wind within the towns of Lincoln, Burlington, Lee, Winn and Mattawamkeag. It is also looking at developing a 40-megawatt Longfellow project in Rumford.

A 50-megawatt project is envisioned in Oakfield. Progress on a project in Aroostook County envisioned by Horizon Wind Energy of Texas, which could add up to hundreds of megawatts, appears to have slowed down.

Endless Energy Corp. wants the town of Carrabassett Valley to annex part of Redington Township so it can build a 90-plus-megawatt wind power project.

The relatively small, three-turbine, 4½-megawatt Beaver Ridge project in Freedom began operating in November.

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