Ceremony to honor completion of Stetson wind power project

Posted April 02, 2010, at 9:57 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:03 p.m.

TOWNSHIP 8 RANGE 3 — The completion of New England’s largest wind project will be commemorated Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony near Danforth.

An addition to the $60 million, 38-turbine Stetson Mountain industrial wind site, Phase II’s 17 1.5-megawatt wind turbines began producing electricity for project owner First Wind of Massachusetts within the last week, spokesman John Lamontagne said. The first phase went on line in January 2009.

“It’s a great example of the strong economic impact wind projects can have on local economies,” Lamontagne said Friday.

The yearlong construction of Phase II employed about 200 workers from Reed & Reed Inc. general contractors of Woolwich and its local subcontractors, Lamontagne said. Only a dozen or so full-time jobs will remain, however, after the construction’s completion.

Stetson can produce as much as 82 megawatts of power, though wind projects typically generate from 20 to 40 percent of their capacity. Lamontagne would not say how much electricity Stetson is generating, citing confidentiality concerns.

According to documents associated with its looming initial public offering, in which it hopes to list common stock on the Nasdaq market under the symbol WIND, First Wind has signed a long-term power purchase agreement with Harvard University for half of Stetson II’s output.

The 44-turbine, 132-megawatt Kibby Wind Power project will be New England’s largest site when project developer TransCanada finishes it this fall, TransCanada officials say. It is located in the Boundary Mountains.

With headquarters in Boston and several satellite offices planned or located in Maine, First Wind operates the 42-megawatt Mars Hill project and has several more projects in development or permitted. The company hopes to begin building this year its 40-turbine, 60-megawatt industrial wind site proposed for the Rollins Mountain ridgelines in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn, but the project is under appeal.

The Friends of Lincoln Lakes group contends the turbines would lower land values and threaten human and animal health with light flicker and low-decibel sound; disrupt the pastoral nature of Rollins; and typically generate a fraction of their capacity.

First Wind has argued that its project meets or exceeds all state environmental requirements and that wind turbines have no adverse impact on land values. Several health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have said they find no evidence that turbines threaten human health.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is due to rule on the Friends’ remaining appeal of the Rollins Mountain project within the next three months. The state’s highest court already handed the Friends a major legal defeat last month by reaffirming state approval of the $130 million project.

“We hope to move on Rollins as soon as we can,” Lamontagne said.

First Wind also hopes to start building its 34-turbine, $120 million project in Oakfield, which the Maine Department of Environmental Protection permitted in January. The 51-megawatt project is also under appeal.

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