Would generate enough clean electricity annually to power 20,000 homes
“Wind power already is creating significant new jobs in Maine, and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels,” said NRCM Clean Energy Project Director Dylan Voorhees. “NRCM has carefully reviewed the permit application and believes that the Record Hill project should be approved, so that Maine can harvest the benefits of additional clean power production.”
The Record Hill Wind Project is expected to generate enough electricity annually to power 20,000 homes. Brunswick-based Independence Energy, LLC, is the developer. The project is expected to involve 22 turbines located on a ridge line comprised of Partridge Peak, Flathead Mountain, and Record Hill, in the town of Roxbury.
“This project would provide an important contribution toward Maine’s goal of 2000 MW of wind power by 2015,” said Voorhees. “Staying on track toward this goal will cut global warming pollution, boost energy independence, and keep Maine in a leadership position in the development of clean power.
Wind power projects with a total of 321 MW have been approved in Maine. These projects are: Mars Hill (42 MW) in the town of Mars Hill; Stetson (57 MW) and Stetson II (25.5 MW) in Danforth; Kibby (132 MW) near Eustis; Rollins (60 MW) near Lincoln; and Beaver Ridge (4.5 MW) in Freedom. Adding the 55 MW Record Hill project would bring the total to 376, or 19% of the 2,000 MW goal for 2015 established last year by the Maine Legislature.
“The Record Hill project will help reduce air pollution and global warming without causing undue environmental impacts. When compared with coal, oil, and natural gas – which currently provide more than 40% of Maine’selectricity – wind is a far superior energy source,” added Voorhees.
“As with any power source, wind farms force us to consider some tradeoffs. However it is clear to us that this project fits well with the Maine’s emerging energy policies which focus on boosting energy efficiency, reducing pollution from existing power plants, and tapping into the power of the winds that blow across Maine. This combined approach will help reduce the smog that harms our health, acid rain that damages our forests, and global warming that poses a serious long-term threat to every part of our state,” said Voorhees.
The Record Hill project is projected to reduce pollution by putting electricity into New England’s transmission system that displaces power generated by dirtier forms of power production. Estimated annual pollution reductions would be 62,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 33 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 18 tons of nitrogen oxides annually.
Independence Wind submitted the Record Hill permit application to the DEP in November 2008, which is expected to make a decision about the project this spring. NRCM staff has visited the site, reviewed all application materials, and attended public meetings as part of its review process. NRCM concludes that the environmental benefits of the project would substantially outweigh anticipated environmental impacts.
Based on the Council’s review of the application, the project does not appear to present significant impacts to wildlife or natural resources. Typically the most significant identifiable impact of a wind farm, including Record Hill, is its visual impact, because these are large machines that are clearly visible. Our analysis, stemming from the legal standard for permitting wind power in Maine, focused on visual impacts to scenic resources of statewide significance, because wind projects will always present visual impacts to somebody. The project will be visible from the Tumbledown Mountain region, and also Old Blue Mountain, at distances of six to eight miles. NRCM concluded that the visual impacts from these locations do not warrant denial of the permit.
NRCM also notes that the Record Hill project would provide significant revenues tothe town of Roxbury. The project is expected to pay about $700,000 annually in property taxes, which could result in 66 percent reduction in property taxes for town residents. The developer also has agreed to pay the first 500 kilowatt hours of electricity generation charges for every current residence in Roxbury for every month over the next 20 years.
“We believe the development of windpower, properly located, should continue to be a centerpiece of Maine’s policies to generate clean power, reduce air pollution and halt climate change,” said Voorhees. “The Record Hill project will contribute to these goals.”