PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The University of Maine at Presque Isle is inching closer to its goal of harnessing the wind now that turbine blades for its windmill have been delivered.
The blades came up U.S. Route 1 to the Presque Isle campus Tuesday morning and were delivered that afternoon, UMPI President Don Zillman said Tuesday.
“They expect to start putting the windmill together [Wednesday],” he said.
University officials announced last year that the campus would begin generating clean energy this spring after reaching an agreement with general contractor Lumus Construction Inc. on a $2 million project to install a 600-kilowatt wind turbine on the northern Maine campus.
The agreement establishes UMPI as the first university in the state and one of only a handful in New England to install a midsize wind turbine.
University officials anticipate that the 600-kilowatt turbine will produce about 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year and save the institution more than $100,000 annually in electricity charges. Once fully operational, the windmill is expected to save an estimated 572 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year.
The windmill will be located approximately 30 yards from the baseball fields.
The project is being financed by UMPI’s “own internal savings” over the past few years, together with a $50,000 grant from the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Zillman said Tuesday that the project is approximately a week ahead of schedule and is “right on budget.”
He added that many students and staff were near the windmill site Tuesday afternoon, watching construction crews and snapping photos as the equipment was delivered to campus.
The windmill is expected to be fully operational by the first week of May, Zillman said.