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Maine wind power inches toward generation goals

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm •  Published: December 25, 2012

First Wind is expected to submit an application by the end of January for a 60- to 65-turbine project that would be built in Kingsbury Plantation in Piscataquis County, the DEP said. It is known as the Bingham Wind Project.

Also expected by the end of January is an application for an expansion at Bull Hill.

Conceptual plans for projects in Moscow in Somerset County and Alder Stream in Franklin County have emerged. The latter has already gotten a boost from the federal government.

In early 2012, the Energy Department awarded $1 million to the Penobscot Indian Nation to help it move closer to developing the 227-megawatt Alder Stream project. The grant is to help with engineering designs, meet permit requirements and identify power purchasers.

"We don't expect an application before 2014," said Mark Bergeron, director of DEP's Division of Land Resources Regulation.

Meanwhile, the DEP is reviewing First Wind's revised application to build a wind farm on Bowers Mountain straddling Penobscot and Washington counties in eastern Maine. The new plan envisions 16 instead of 27 turbines as originally proposed, and placing them in less visible locations.

Permits have been approved for First Wind's Oakfield project in Aroostook County and Patriot Renewables' Saddleback Ridge in Oxford County, but those approvals are being challenged by citizen opposition groups. Patriot's Canton Mountain project, also in Oxford County, is under DEP review. The Pisgah Mountain Windpower in Penobscot County is also being challenged.

Independence Wind's Highland proposal for a 39-turbine, 117-megawatt project in Somerset County has been withdrawn, and Noble Environmental Power LLC's Passadumkeag Wind Park proposal in Penobscot County has been denied.

Wind power produced in Maine is fed into the regional grid, but some stays in the state, Payne said. A 2011 power purchase agreement keeps Mars Hill power in northern Maine, and part of the Rollins wind deal was to keep power in Maine.

"Developers stand ready to sign more of these contracts" to keep Maine-generated wind power in the state, Payne said.