First Wind eyes Bowers Mountain

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 02, 2010, at 9:41 p.m.

CARROLL PLANTATION, Maine — First Wind of Massachusetts is collecting data on Bowers Mountain wind conditions as a first step toward possibly erecting an industrial wind-to-energy site near the 1,127-foot summit, company officials said Tuesday.

The state’s largest industrial wind power producer placed three test towers on the site, two in November and one in December. Company officials will meet town leaders and residents on Feb. 8 and outline what their plans might be, spokesman John Lamontagne said.

“The data we get from those towers is critical to us deciding whether we want to locate a project there,” Lamontagne said Tuesday. “It is close to the proposed Rollins Mountain project, so that is a plus. We have had good relations with folks in that area.”

Topographical maps place Bowers about two miles south of Route 6, about 10 miles east of Lee and 16 miles east of Lincoln near the boundary line between Penobscot and Washington counties.

The Rollins Mountain project is a proposed $130 million, 40-turbine industrial wind site on nearby Rollins Mountain, a range of ridgelines in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn that has received Maine Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approvals.

The Friends of Lincoln Lakes residents group has an appeal of the DEP permit pending in the Maine State Supreme Court. The court will hear arguments in Portland at 1:45 p.m. Feb. 10.

The attorney representing the friends, Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor, also represents a group of Bowers Mountain-area residents that might oppose any Bowers Mountain development, she said recently.

“We have the luxury of being witness to this from the very beginning,” Williams said.

Williams and the residents will work to ensure that any Bowers project gets thoroughly reviewed, she said.

Beyond the meeting and data collection, First Wind has no immediate plans for Bowers, Lamontagne said. He said he was unsure how many landowners in the area had agreed to allow wind turbines on their properties if the testing proves successful.

“We haven’t decided, basically, on what we are going to do there, so I don’t have the details as how big a project it might be,” he said. “When you build a project, you have to collect many months of wind data to see whether a project can be sustained. This is fairly early in the process.

“It would not be something we would be building in 2010, that’s for sure,” he added.

With headquarters in Boston, First Wind operates the 42-megawatt Mars Hill and the 57-megawatt Stetson Mountain sites. Construction of the 26-megawatt Stetson II project will be completed this spring, while DEP approved the proposed 51-megawatt Oakfield project on Jan. 22.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/02/02/news/first-wind-eyes-bowers-mountain/ printed on September 18, 2014