Defense site eyed for wind project

Posted July 04, 2010, at 9:11 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A former Cold War-era radar site and timberland not far from an existing wind farm are the latest sites in Maine that are being considered for large wind energy projects.

The Penobscot Indian Nation is in the process of purchasing land where a former Air Force “backscatter” radar station was located in the central Maine town of Moscow. The radar system, which could peek over the Earth’s horizon to detect enemy planes and missiles, was shut down in 1997 after Cold War tensions eased.

Tribal Chief Kirk Francis said the Penobscots have been looking at the 1,274-acre site for more than a year, and now are working with the General Services Administration, which owns the property, and Bureau of Indian Affairs to complete the sale.

Francis said the tribe is focused on developing wind power at the site, but also is looking into ways to generate power using a water source there as a second phase of the project.

Meanwhile, a subsidiary of a company that already has developed major wind-generating facilities in the state, First Wind LLC of Massachusetts, is looking at a site in Carroll Plantation and Kossuth Township in eastern Maine. The proposed 25-turbine wind farm would be about eight miles south of First Wind’s existing Stetson Wind Farm.

This week, the state Land Use Regulation Commission will consider whether to allow an expedited application for the project.

On Wednesday, the land use board will consider whether to add 695 acres in Kossuth to the expedited permitting area. The Carroll Plantation acreage already is designated for expedited permitting.

Documents filed with LURC say seven of the turbines likely would be located in Kossuth Township in Washington County while 18 will be just across the Penobscot County border in Carroll Plantation.

The two projects would be added to the 432 megawatts of wind-generated power already on line or approved according to the Maine Renewable Energy Association. The state’s goal is to have 2,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2015.

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