ELLSWORTH, Maine — Seven nonprofit projects in Hancock County are getting a windfall of sorts.
The groups each are getting thousands of dollars from Hancock County in grant money that is being funded by First Wind’s Bull Hill Wind turbine facility in Township 16. As part of an agreement that the county reached with First Wind, the commercial wind farm developer is contributing $200,000 each year to a community benefit fund that is controlled by the county.
This month, county commissioners decided to distribute $100,000 to organizations that had applied for the fund. Receiving grants are:
• Crabtree Neck Land Trust Community Gardens — $1,400.
• City of Ellsworth Knowlton Park project — $20,000.
• Friends in Action — $10,000.
• Hancock County Habitat for Humanity, Inc. — $18,600.
• Maine Coast Memorial Hospital Prescription Assistance Program — $10,000.
• Town of Deer Isle playground project — $20,000.
• Town of Trenton small harbor project — $20,000.
Commissioners still have $100,000 to distribute for 2013, according to county officials, and are considering using the funds to help reduce taxes for military veterans.
First Wind erected 19 commercial-scale wind turbines in Township 16 last year. While it is donating money to the county’s community benefit account each year, as part of its agreement with the county First Wind also gets a rebate on millions of dollars in county taxes that the project is expected to generate over the next 30 years.
First Wind has two other power projects planned for Hancock County. One of them, the 18-turbine Hancock Wind project in townships 16 and 22, was approved last month by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The other, Weaver Wind, could include dozens more turbines in adjacent towns and townships, based on power projections that First Wind has provided to officials in Connecticut.