Wind project near Bridgewater to grow industry employment

Posted July 31, 2015, at 2:29 p.m.

BRIDGEWATER, Maine — A large proposed wind farm near Bridgewater could lead to a host of new work opportunities building and then running and supporting the 119 electricity-producing turbines.

The American division of Madrid, Spain-based EDP Renewables has applied to build a 250-megawatt wind farm with as many as 119 turbines in T9R3, an area nine miles west of Bridgewater. The company secured power purchase agreements with the electric utilities Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating, both in Connecticut.

It’s EDP Renewables’ first foray into Maine, and the company is hoping to get approval from the Department of Environmental Protection within six months to start construction in 2016. The Number Nine Wind Farm would rival the state’s largest wind project, SunEdison’s still-in-construction 185-megawatt farm near Bingham, and in northern Maine would join the Mars Hill wind farm and the Oakfield project, also still in construction.

EDP Renewables sees the wind farm as a potential boon for greater Aroostook County. The Number Nine Wind Farm “will contribute significant economic benefits to the surrounding community in the form of payments to landowners, local spending, and annual community investment,” the company said on the project’s website.

As many as 300 people would be employed during construction, and about 16 full-time workers could be employed directly by EDP Renewables, according to project manager Kellen Ingalls.

EDP Renewables also will have to build a 50-mile transmission line, using a right-of-way between Houlton and Haynesville to connect the project to the regional grid, and will need a range of services, such as road work, that will rely on contractors, Ingalls said.

The company is looking forward to finding potential workers who are in the wind power associate’s degree training program at Northern Maine Community College, Ingalls said.

“We’re excited to have that kind of resource to pull from,” she said.

The long-term jobs will need employees with electrical and mechanical skills, knowledge of the National Electrical Code and a willingness to work outside in all kinds of weather.

EDP Renewables also is pitching a $2 million benefits package for local residents targeted at helping pay for energy efficient upgrades such as new heat pumps, with the goal reducing residents’ heating costs, Ingalls said. That kind of weatherization program also could bring a range of jobs in completing building assessments and installing upgrades.

 

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