Roxbury wind project gets loan guarantee

ROXBURY — The Record Hill Wind LLC project on Roxbury hills took a giant step forward on Monday when the U.S. Department of Energy finalized its $102 million loan guarantee to the Maine company.

The $120 million Record Hill wind project consists of 22 turbines and a transmission line upgrade to interconnect with Central Maine Power Co.

“It means we can move forward and complete construction,” Angus King, Independence Wind LLC co-principal and former Maine governor, said Tuesday morning in Brunswick.

The other principal is Robert Gardiner, the former president of Maine Public Broadcasting.

“It's been a long time coming,” King said.

In the four and a half years it took to reach this stage, King said he and Gardiner held about 40 public meetings in Roxbury, and meetings with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for permitting.

And then there were meetings with the department's Board of Environmental Protection when project opponents appealed the DEP decision. That went all the way to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which unanimously upheld the BEP decision in March.

Construction then resumed in April.

“It's wonderful to finally be in the completion stages of a project that's gone on that long,” Gardiner said Tuesday.

“We've been under construction for all of this construction season and making great progress, so actually this loan sort of finishes the financial side, but we will be going ahead with the construction side.”

King and Gardiner said the $102 million is a loan and not a grant. Repayment starts when the project goes online, which is expected to be in November or December.

“This is a loan guarantee,” King said. “This is money that has to be paid back. This isn't a grant.”

“What that effectively gives us is an advantage on the interest rate and that makes the financing a little easier, because when you're borrowing $100 million over 20 years, a little bit of improvement in the percentage rate makes a huge difference in the whole cost of things,” Gardiner said.

Steven Chu, U.S. Energy Secretary, said Monday that the loan guarantee and an investment by the Yale University Endowment will support the 50.6 megawatt wind power plant, an 8-mile transmission line and associated interconnection equipment near Roxbury.

Developed and managed by Wagner Wind Energy I LLC of New Hampshire and Independence Wind, Record Hill “will provide sustainable power to the state while funding 200 construction jobs,” Chu said.

“This innovative project creates jobs in Maine while boosting domestic wind generation in order to achieve the administration's goal of doubling clean energy produced in America by 2005,” he said.

“Clean energy is a major driver of American competitiveness, and investments like these are essential to secure our position as global leader.”

Wagner Wind Energy I is a subsidiary of Wagner Forest Management Ltd. of Lyme, N.H., which owns the land on which the project is being built.

Chu said the turbines will be installed with innovative Turbine Load Control technology, a system of sensors and processing software that allows the turbines to continue to generate electricity under turbulent conditions rather than be shut down completely.

TLC, he said, “is also expected to reduce wear-and-tear on the turbines, reduce operation and management costs and preserve the lifetime of the turbine components."

Record Hill wind's turbines were built by Siemens of Germany in Denmark and are being shipped from there to Searsport, where they will be trucked to each turbine site starting Friday, Aug. 19.

The nacelles, which are the structures atop a wind turbine tower that hold the electricity generating components, and the hubs and blades came from Denmark as well, Gardiner said.

The tower sections were made in Vietnam.

Each turbine cost about $3 million, King said.

“The turbines are manufactured in Europe because that's where the biggest turbine market is, and the tower sections are made in Asia, because that's where the new efficient steel mills are,” Gardiner said.

Since April, more than 150 employees of several Maine contractors have been working at the turbine sites, preparing them for the turbines.

“We're looking forward to starting to generate some local electricity,” Gardiner said.

“I think that people in Roxbury have recognized that this is coming and I believe they hope that the opponents' worst fears won't be realized, and I'm confident that their worst fears won't be realized and confident they won't be a problem for neighbors of this project.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Chu

Steven Chu earned his Nobel prize for inventing "optical molasses". How does that make him an expert in anything else? He obviously doesn't care that the Maine countryside is being obliterated and the wild areas are compromised with industrial blight. He doesn't seem to care that there are serious problems for people who live too close to the turbines and can't sleep at night. He couldn't care less that there are extreme raptor kills in California from turbines and trans. lines. He ignors the fact that C02 is not reduced and climate change is not slowed because of the extreme emissions from the rare earth mining and manufacturing processes, not to mention the transportation and construction emissions. He should get back in the lab and play physics before he does any more damage to the Maine mtns.

 's picture

false promises

The tower sections are made in Asia in steel plants powered by COAL. The US exported 3000 tons of coal to China in 2010. The first 6 months of 2011 the count was in the millions of tons and rising. Angus and Rob are deliberately ignoring the high C02 costs to make these turbines. If the US keeps increasing coal exports to China to continue the wind turbine fad, is that not defeating the ALLEGED purpose of wind power, to stop climate change? If Maine was covered with industrial turbine garbage there is nothing to stop the coal industry from exporting ever more coal to China. Therefore it is a complete waste to continue sacrificing Maine so some greedy developers and construction companies can get rich quickly. This scam needs to stop.

 's picture

From the watchdog group

From the watchdog group "TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE"........... " Under the DOE regulations, guarantees can provide coverage for 100% of the
loan for up to 80% of the project’s cost. These generous terms could easily lead to high risk projects that
default and leave project owners with significantly less to lose than taxpayers."
If King learned one thing from being Governor, it's how to suck upon taxpayer money.
Gardiner did quite the same as President of Maine Public Broadcasting.

 's picture

King and Gardiner

These gentlemen are very adept in the art of 'spin'... whether for the Roxbury project, or their proposed project in Highland. Their published comments raise questions, though...

“King and Gardiner said the $102 million is a loan and not a grant. Repayment starts when the project goes online, which is expected to be in November or December.

““This is a loan guarantee,” King said. “This is money that has to be paid back. This isn't a grant.”

Ah, but who’s guaranteeing this loan? The DOE is actually the American tax-payer, right? What is the DOE’s lending criteria for Section 1705 loans such as that approved for Independence Wind? In effect, the DOE has NO quantifiable lending criteria for lending to wind projects. Their two main objectives are to get a primary secured position (first lien) on all of a project's collateral, and get an independent evaluation of the project's forecast economics from a rating agency. Since the rating agencies (e.g. S&P) have no historical experience in wind power projects; their opinion is essentially based upon the developer's "projections"--assuming the project is successful. The DOE (i.e. the American tax-payer) is taking on very high risk energy projects by default because the commercial markets ARE NOT WILLING TO TAKE ON THE SAME RISKS. If the borrowers default due to poor performance--what does the DOE (American tax-payers)get for collateral?

And speaking of grants: Will Mr. King and Mr. Gardiner take advantage of the 1603 cash grant? Yes, it’s a GRANT, from the Federal government (which is also supported by tax-payers) for up to 30% of the project’s cost. A $30 million dollar, no-strings-attached gift is quite a sum for a man who said, “There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.”

http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/energy-choices-and-the-no-free-lunch-...

And then, there are those other subsidies such as Tax Production Credits, Renewable Energy Credits, Accelerated Depreciation, and in some cases, TIFs. Let’s not gloss over the facts.

“Since April, more than 150 employees of several Maine contractors have been working at the turbine sites, preparing them for the turbines.”

“Record Hill “will provide sustainable power to the state while funding 200 construction jobs,” Chu said.”

““We're looking forward to starting to generate some local electricity,” Gardiner said.”

So... what is it? 150 temporary jobs--or 200? Could this be another example of ‘weighting’ the numbers? Somewhat like claiming a wind development will power “X” number of homes, while omitting the fact that the ‘rated’ capacity is far different from actual production numbers... at best 32%, and more realistically, 21% of rted capacity, here in Maine.

And...is the electricity generated by the Roxbury project NOT going into the New England grid, but powering Maine homes and businesses, instead? Let's see proof of that, please. Since Maine already produces more power than we consume, what will this sporatic, unreliable product be displacing? As a state with one of the highest percentages of ‘renewables’ in its portfolio in this country already--one would hope erratic, undependable wind won’t replace a storable, reliable renewable like hydro.

“In the four and a half years it took to reach this stage, King said he and Gardiner held about 40 public meetings in Roxbury, and meetings with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for permitting.”

When was the last time Mr. King and Mr. Gardiner had a ‘public meeting’ with the citizens of Roxbury? I think they’d find that earlier perceptions of the project don’t square up with the current reality. I urge the developers to hold another ‘informational meeting’ in the local area.

“Clean energy is a major driver of American competitiveness, and investments like these are essential to secure our position as global leader.”

While it always seems nice to be a leader, I doubt the Pied Piper’s first lemming was enamored of that designation. Countries in Europe who were ‘leaders’ in wind energy are now seriously rethinking their positions, and cutting or eliminating government subsidies such as that offered by the DOE and other Federal, State and Local agencies. The wind lobby refers to Europe often, when touting the benefits of wind. But a quick search on the internet will show far more negative reactions to the effects of grid-scale wind proliferation on that continent than it does, high praise.

“Chu said the turbines will be installed with innovative Turbine Load Control technology, a system of sensors and processing software that allows the turbines to continue to generate electricity under turbulent conditions rather than be shut down completely.”

“Turbine Load Control technology.” “Operating under turbulent conditions.” ??? Before this new innovation is foisted upon the citizens and environment of Roxbury, let’s see the science behind this, and the safety studies. And the economics. Just as in the case of Noise Control Operations mode (NRO) let’s make sure this 'technology’ is viable and safe before allowing this change. Early reports say that NRO is actually more bothersome than standard operations mode, due to the luffing of the blades in the wind once they are feathered.

Denmark... and Vietnam. How many other foreign economies are OUR tax dollars keeping vibrant and viable, while Americans struggle?

“the tower sections are made in Asia, because that's where the new efficient steel mills are,” Gardiner said.”

Well, of course the “efficient” steel mills are in Asia! How stringent are Asia’s emissions standards? (Not very.) And what is the going pay-rate for Asians holding down manufacturing jobs? We are shipping American dollars overseas, and in effect, promoting dangerous, toxic pollution and sub-standard wages for our foreign neighbors, while hard-working Americans look for jobs.

I am a Mainer who opposes the current wind energy plan for Maine. There are no two ways around that fact. I’m sure there will be commenters who take advantage of this opportunity to discredit me.

Nonetheless, I comment under my own, true name. I urge the opposition to do the same.

Respectfully,
Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., Maine

 's picture

Has anyone asked the eagles?

The following link provides some interesting perspective on industrial wind power from a raptors point of view. Nobody thought to ask them how they feel about these giant spinning contraptions being erected in their airspace. There's a video that shows what Maine will look like if King and Gardiner and the gaggle of other wind developers get their way.

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/08/16/energy-in-america-dead-birds-u...

 's picture

what is it guys?

50.6 MW nameplate capacity rules down to about 5-10 MW of actual power.
75% wind does NOT blow, 10-30% loss in transmission, 5% "parasitic" draw from grid 24/7.

NRCM states the number 13MW will power up 22,000 houses in Oxford County.

320 million divided by 22,000 nets about $15,000 a household.

Solar panels sell for 50 cents a watt. $500 buys you a kilowatt of power. I am quite sure we can use the $14,500 left over to buy a few batteries.

Chu of DOE says 200 jobs, angus says 150. Room for margin everywhere.

and what about property values?

 's picture

I wonder how often Governor

I wonder how often Governor King and Mr. Gardiner have heard " If I only knew then what I know now " ? If, in fact, there was 40 public meetings, they occurred several years ago when public awareness of the many issues plaguing the wind industry was in the initial stage and, yet, by the slim margin of 7 votes, the project was allowed to proceed.
The fragmentation of the community of Roxbury is repeated over and over wherever a project is considered. It is too bad an ex governor, once holding the job of unifying people with policy and vision, has now engaged in such an ugly, polarizing experiment.
To say people will get used to these highly visible, 400 foot tall machines is a bit premature. I'm more apt to believe if they had been disallowed in Roxbury, the tranquility of this community would restore itself ( can't be disturbed by what isn't there )
Finally, when so many other land use proposals find a huge boost in land values upon receiving a DEP permit to carry forward their projects, why wasn't this realized and tax assessment applied to this boost of land value when the DEP approved this project ? 2 years of lost revenues to the town. Who's looking out for who, over there in Roxbury ?

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