A Portland-based energy provider has submitted an application to build a small-scale wind power project in Freedom, east of Waterville.
Competitive Energy Services LLC wants to construct three wind turbines on Beaver Ridge. The turbines each would have a capacity of roughly 1.5 megawatts. The $10 million project could generate enough electricity to power 2,000 Maine households.
The Freedom project is the latest attempt in Maine to harness clean, renewable energy from the wind.
A handful of other companies are measuring wind output or working to secure permits at sites stretching from Aroostook County to the western mountains. None has been built yet, but a few are attracting opposition from hikers and conservationists who have voiced concerns ranging from spoiled views to migrating birds.
The Freedom proposal may face fewer hurdles. It’s smaller and apparently needs only town approval rather than state permits.
But the three 250-foot-tall towers would hold blades 140 feet across, meaning the structures would reach nearly 400 feet in the air. Lighted at night and located on a ridge roughly 1,000 feet above sea level, the towers would be visible from many points in Freedom, a rural community of 750. For that reason, local officials plan to hold public hearings to get input from residents.
“It’s quite an event for a town our size,” said Steve Bennett, who chairs the town’s Board of Selectmen.
Freedom has no town-wide zoning or site-review ordinance, Bennett said. In his view, the project will gain support from residents interested in exploring renewable energy and boosting the local tax base. It may be opposed by people worried about how the towers would change the appearance of Beaver Ridge.
Richard Silkman, a partner in Competitive Energy Services, said he’s encouraged so far by the initial feedback from town officials.
“Beaver Ridge is an excellent site for a small-scale wind project that will bring many benefits to the residents of Freedom and the state of Maine,” he said.
The company has a long-term lease with the owners of the Beaver Ridge site, Ronald and Susan Price, who own Craneland Farm, a longtime dairy farm. The couple said the wind turbines offer a way to preserve their farmland.
Silkman said the company has yet to secure turbines or financing and can’t proceed without a permit. If the town approves, the project could be built next year. Power would be sold to institutional buyers interested in renewable power, including colleges, hospitals and government purchasers.
Competitive Energy Services LLC is a licensed energy provider that helps Maine companies, institutions and organizations buy electricity, natural gas, propane and fuel oil. It buys more than $200 million a year of commodities for more than 15,000 customers in the United States and Canada. The Freedom project would represent its first wind energy venture.
Its subsidiary, Maine Renewable Energy, provides electricity to homes and small businesses in Maine, supplying more than 2,000 customers with power generated from Maine hydroelectric facilities.