NRCM news release
More than 40 Mainers joined the Natural Resources Council of Maine on Saturday, July 28, for an exciting excursion to New England’s only large wind farm, located right here in Maine at Mars Hill.
The group was met by sunny skies and steady winds as they toured the ridgeline, met with wind farm developer UPC Wind, and talked with town officials and business owners to learn firsthand the benefits of wind power on our environment and on local communities.
The town manager reported that Mars Hill property tax rates, which were adjusted this month, declined 20% due to the wind farm’s contribution. Engineering contractor Reed & Reed shared its experience from construction and hopes to be involved in other wind projects. UPC spent about $22 million directly in Maine during construction.
Residents reported that the project has indeed changed Mars Hill, and that change has been one of economic development and a positive contribution to clean energy. An innkeeper and a real estate entrepreneur told the group that they are now making investments in the town and are excited to capitalize on increased business.
The group traveled to Big Rock Ski Area in Mars Hill by bus for the day and enjoyed:
- Presentations by NRCM about wind power in an environmental context, and by UPC Wind about the Mars Hill project.
- A hike up Mars Hill Mountain and a guided tour of the wind farm, with an up-close look at the wind turbines by Ryan Fonbuena, Mars Hill Wind Project Operations Manager.
- A panel discussion with business owners, residents, and Mars Hill’s Town Manager, Ray Mersereau, about the impact of the wind farm on the town.
- A picnic lunch at Big Rock and dinner at Al’s Diner in Mars Hill.
Here’s what a few participants had to say about the wind project and the trip:
“The Mars Hill project is an example of the value in the collective power found in Maine’s natural resources. The trip has been informative,” said Shirley Kidder of Calais.
Marie-Anne Gauvin of Madawaska said, “I was impressed by the project and the cooperation from the town, owners, companies, etc.”
As one anonymous commenter put it: “Every town should have its own turbines. Excellent project!”
“We need more wind power. The Mars Hill project appears to have been excellently planned, presented and completed. The trip was excellent – well planned,” said Dorothy Bonenfant of Winterport.
The transportation emissions for the trip were generously offset through the donation of Maine Wind Watts by Maine Interfaith Power & Light. Offsetting your global warming pollution is easy with Maine Wind Watts, now available thanks to the Mars Hill Wind Project. Maine Wind Watts is the only Maine-based product of its kind.
The Mars Hill wind farm has been generating clean energy since January, 2007. This year, the Land Use Regulation Commission will consider applications for three additional wind power projects in Maine. NRCM endorsed the wind farm on Mars Hill, and we remain a strong advocate of it and all appropriately sited projects.