Jonesport, Lubec wind farm plans gain supporters

Posted Sept. 22, 2010, at 6:37 p.m.

JONESPORT, Maine — KEAN Energy LLC, a Turner-based renewable power company, is proposing two small-scale wind farms Down East, one in Jonesport and the other in Lubec. Both are getting lots of local support. Residents have been promised at least a 10 percent reduction in their electricity bills and a major infusion of tax dollars.

Both communities held a hearing on the proposal Tuesday night.

Kirk Nadeau, one of the principals in KEAN Energy, said Wednesday that the company is guided by transparency and even though no building permit is required in Lubec, the presentation Tuesday night to the town’s planning board was well-received.

“There was a very high level of support,” Nadeau said. “We agreed to provide a draft scope of the work and the planning board and selectmen will supply us with letters of endorsement.”

Nadeau said the letters would help in securing state permits for the project.

Lubec Town Manager John Southern said Wednesday that he is not sensing any local opposition to the turbines.

“People go from either being interested to being excited,” he said.

Dwight Alley, a Jonesport selectman, said Tuesday night’s meeting there went very well, and the project has wide support in the community. One person did register some concerns about sound issues, but Alley said those were allayed when it was explained that these are small turbines and noise should not be a problem.

“Overall, the town is quite happy,” Alley said.

Support has been high all through the Jonesport process, Peter Whitney of KEAN Energy said Wednesday.

“At the town vote last November more than 80 percent approved our project,” he said.

According to Nadeau and documents filed by KEAN Energy, the projects are nearly identical. Each would consist of three wind turbines that will be connected to the Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. power grid by an underground service. Each tower will be 260 feet tall with three 130-foot-long blades. When the base, tower and blades are combined, each turbine will be 400 feet high. Each tower will include aircraft lighting.

Each three-turbine project is estimated to cost $10.5 million.

According to company information, each of the farms will be designed for 4.5 megawatts, equal to three utility-grade wind turbines, with an estimated annual energy production of 13,849 megawatts per hour, equivalent to powering 1,776 homes based on an annual average electrical use of 7,800 kilowatt-hours per household.

In Jonesport, town officials approved the placement of the turbines last fall just off Mason Bay Road, and KEAN Energy is now in the process of completing wind tests to determine the effectiveness of the project site.

“So far it is looking perfect,” Nadeau said.

The Jonesport farm will be on 345 acres owned by David and Priscilla Look.

In Lubec, the turbines would be placed on property owned by Ricky Wilcox. The 313-acre property will be accessed by a private road from Route 191, and the closest property is 4,000 feet away.

At a Lubec selectmen’s meeting last week, officials were very receptive of the project presentation, particularly when it was learned that taxes on the turbine farm could generate $160,000 annually.

“We are welcoming people who come in here and invest in the community and create jobs,” said William Daye, the chairman of the selectmen.

Lubec officials also were told that 70 temporary and five permanent jobs would be created by both projects combined.

Billy Milliken, the company’s developer, said the project in Jonesport, which has been under way for about a year, “is in my backyard. We have been very well-received in Jonesport. These are local guys who are reinvesting in the community.”

Nadeau said that each project must file for three permits from the state — Certification for Small-Scale Wind Energy Developments, Natural Resources Protection Act Permit and Stormwater Management Law Permit.

KEAN Energy LLC was founded in 2007 by Nadeau, a Maine Maritime Academy graduate. The company’s initial focus was project engineering but shifted to renewable power in 2009.

The company also has proposed a similar project at Streaked Mountain in Buckfield.

Nadeau said other locations are on the company’s radar for expansion but no announcements are being made at this time.

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