November 15, 2018
Hancock Latest News | Poll Questions | Ranked-Choice Voting | Election 2018 | Kirstjen Nielsen

Company revives wind farm plan that state wildlife officials had opposed

Bill Trotter | BDN
Bill Trotter | BDN
Blades on wind turbines nearly 500 feet tall rotate in the breeze in the Unorganized Territory in eastern Hancock County, Maine in this photo from May 2018. A Boston-based firm has revived a proposal to erect 22 turbines, each nearly 600 feet tall, in the nearby towns of Eastbrook and Osborn.

A Boston-based energy development firm has revived a proposal to construct what would be a third wind farm in northeastern Hancock County.

Longroad Energy is renewing a proposal that First Wind and, later, SunEdison had proposed for Eastbrook and Osborn. The Weaver Wind proposal, which Longroad bought out of SunEdison’s 2016 bankruptcy, would result in 22 turbines being erected in the two towns.

Longroad’s top management team is composed of former executives at First Wind, which was bought by SunEdison in 2015. SunEdison withdrew its application for state approval of the Weaver Wind proposal in August 2015.

Matt Kearns, a former First Wind executive who now serves as Longroad’s chief development officer, said a public meeting on the proposal is scheduled to be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Eastbrook Community Center on Route 200. He said the firm is hoping to submit a development application to Maine Department of Environmental Protection in early October.

According to Kearns, the proposal is the same as what SunEdison had submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection, only there would be one less turbine in Osborn. Of the 22 proposed turbines, 14 would be in Osborn and eight would be in Eastbrook, he said Wednesday.

Each of the turbines, which would be nearly 600 feet tall from ground to the highest tip of each blade, would be rated for 3.3 megawatts of generating capacity for a total power capacity of nearly 73 megawatts, he said. Longroad also would build an operations center near Route 9 in Aurora and would connect to the grid at an Emera substation near the 34.5-megawatt Bull Hill wind farm in Township 16, which was developed by First Wind but now is owned and operated by TerraForm Power.

That project consists of 19 turbines that are each 476 feet tall. Hancock Wind, an abutting 51-megawatt wind farm that is owned and operated by Novatus Energy, consists of 17 turbines that are each 574 feet tall, according to Vox. The Weaver Wind project would increase the number of grid-scale turbines in northeastern Hancock County to 58.

Kearns said the company has been in discussions with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which came out against the proposal in 2015 because of the harm the department said it would cause to birds and bats. He said Longroad is submitting to the state detailed data on how existing turbines in the area have affected birds and bats that SunEdison did not have had access to three years ago.

Longroad is willing to consider some conditions on the project in order to minimize the impact on birds and bats, he added. For example, the firm could limit the use of the turbines during nighttime migration periods in the spring and fall.

“It’s always a balance,” Kearns said. “We want to be as protective as we can of birds and bats.”

Kearns said that Longroad has no other wind development proposals pending in Maine, but is pursuing two solar projects — a 122 megawatt project planned in Unity Township and a 20 megawatt project proposed in Fairfield. The firm has not yet filed applications for approval for either solar project, he added.

According to David Madore, spokesman for Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the only other wind farm proposal that currently is pending for state approval is a 4-turbine, 15 megawatt project in Roxbury in Oxford County.

Aside from the Weaver Wind proposal, there is another renewable energy project proposed for northeastern Hancock County. Next Phase Energy Services LLC is seeking state approval to construct a 100-megawatt solar farm in Township 16 about a mile away from the Hancock Wind site.

Follow BDN Hancock County on Facebook for all the latest news from Hancock County.


Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like