TOWNSHIP 16, Maine — Nineteen turbines stood nearly 500 feet high into a sheer blue sky on Tuesday but barely turned their blades in the stiff autumn breeze.
Blue Sky East, a subsidiary of First Wind, has finished erecting 19 turbines on Heifer and Bull hills in this Hancock County township, not far from the Eastbrook town line, but the electricity-generating devices have yet to be hooked up to the power grid.
Eventually, there could be 17 more turbines erected in Township 16 and neighboring Township 22, according to a First Wind official. If the company seeks and receives approval for and then erects the possible additional turbines, there would be 36 in total in the two neighboring townships.
Dave Fowler, senior land manager for First Wind, said Thursday that the firm is considering whether it wants to seek approval for possibly four more turbines in Township 16 and 13 more in Township 22, which is the next unorganized territory to the north. If it does, he said, the company will have to go through the Land Use Regulation Commission all over again in order to get approval for them. First Wind has not erected any meteorological towers to test wind conditions where it thinks additional turbines might be viable, he said.
“It’s still in the early development stages,” he said.
First Wind originally had hoped to erect additional turbines in neighboring Eastbrook as part of the same project, which prompted the town to develop land use standards for commercial wind turbines. The company was unable to work out agreements with enough adjacent landowners to be able to extend the project into Eastbrook, however.
Meanwhile, the company has to get each of the 19 turbines recently erected in Township 16 inspected and approved by various government and private entities before they can start generating power. Each of the turbines stands 476 feet high at the highest tip of their blades and can generate 1.8 megawatts of electricity at maximum capacity. The overall project is expected to generate up to 34 megawatts of power into the regional distribution grid.
“There’s still significant inspection work that has to be done before we can flip the switch,” Fowler said. “If the wind is blowing at full capacity, they’ll be generating at full capacity [right away].”
Fowler said he hopes the turbines can be cranked up and “energized” sometime next week. The target day for having the turbines supply power to Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., he said, is Halloween. While finishing work on the turbines, the company also is working to finish loaming and seeding the disturbed soil around the turbines.
“We’ve had a good summer,” Fowler said. “We’re putting the final touches on the ground work. We’re almost there.”
Follow BDN reporter Bill trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.