To learn more about the Record Hill Wind project in Roxbury: http://recordhillwind.com/.
ROXBURY — Owners of a wind-power company set to erect 22 turbines on local hills have decided to delay the project by a year because the energy market has fallen in the recession.
Record Hill Wind LLC is building a $120 million wind farm along the 4-mile ridgeline that connects Partridge Peak, Record Hill and Flathead Mountain. The company had planned to put up the turbines next year, but now says it will be up and running in 2011.
"It's basically a business decision based more than anything else on
the current state of the energy market, which is very, very low,
principally because of the recession," co-owner Angus King of Brunswick said Friday.
Electricity prices are driven by the price of natural gas, because gas-fired generation plants are usually needed to provide incremental electricity. Due to the structure of the competitive electricity market, these plants set the price of electricity for all consumers.
That's why electricity suppliers closely monitor natural gas markets and base their prices per British thermal unit or Btu to consumers on future prices for natural gas. British thermal units are the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of a pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.
"The energy market in Maine and New England is at the lowest it's been since 2002," King said. "In 2008, the price was $12.50 per million Btus, but today, it's $4, so that's a pretty dramatic drop. So, now is not a good time."
That's why King and partner Robert Gardiner of Cumberland Foreside deferred their turbine purchase by a year.
"It was just prudent business management," King said.
Delaying project completion by a year doesn't mean the company will take a year off from road construction and site preparation work.
"We will be back at work when mud season is over next year, but we're not pausing for a year," he said. "We will work through the summer."
But for now, with the onset of winter fast approaching, King said construction will stop in three weeks.
"We will be wrapping up the work that's going on now, principally, to ensure that before the winter comes, all the environmental controls and erosion controls are in place," he said. "And then we will be moving forward with additional preparation work probably next summer and looking forward to being in service in 2011."
The project has been under construction since late August when the Maine Department of Environmental Protection approved Record Hill Wind's project permit.
King said company contractor Sargent Corp. of Bangor has built a new access road from Mine Notch South toward Partridge Peak.