State officials, others tour wind farm, view expansion area

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CHAIN OF PONDS TOWNSHIP — Maine regulation commissioners, wind power developers and environmentalists on Tuesday viewed the Kibby Wind Power Project and nearby Sisk Mountain where a 15-turbine expansion is proposed.

TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of TransCanada Corp. in Canada, wants to expand its 44-turbine operation on Kibby Mountain and Kibby Range in Kibby and Skinner townships. It proposes to build 15 more turbines on nearby Sisk Mountain in Chain of Pond and Kibby townships at a cost of $100 million.

The tour was part of a two-day hearing held by the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission.

The primary access road to Sisk Mountain will branch off a private logging road owned by Plum Creek Timber Co. of Seattle, Wash., TransCanada representative Dana Valleau said. There would be 4.7 miles of new road built for the Sisk project, including 3.6 miles of ridgeline 34 feet wide, TransCanada representative Matthew Nazarko said.

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At one stop during Tuesday’s bus trip to Kibby Mountain, commissioners viewed a turbine foundation, 24 feet in diameter, with 14 large anchor bolts on the outer perimeter that go down 30 to 50 feet into rock and are tensioned to 400,000 pounds each, Nazarko said. Numerous, smaller anchor bolts secure the turbine tower to the foundation.

The entire construction space is 150 feet to 200 feet for each turbine, he said, but once construction is completed, erosion-control mulch will be placed over the pad to allow greenery to grow.

The group could see 3,300-foot Sisk Mountain across the way. Commissioners were shown a picture of what the mountain ridges would look like if turbines are installed and where they would be located.

Another stop on Kibby Mountain gave the group a closer look at the turbines that are online. The total height of each tower is about 410 feet. Each blade is 144 feet long and the tower is 250 feet tall. Each turbine has a generating capacity of 3 megawatts.

As the blades turned, the noise at the base of the turbine sounded like a respirator in a hospital room. The turbines could not be heard during other stops along the tour.

Commissioners asked questions about habitat, plants, animals, the environment and other details about the Sisk project.

The construction site for the expansion is 178 acres, including some existing roads, Valleau said. The permanent area is 66.4 acres, according to the application.

TransCanada representatives said the visual impact of the project would be minimal from areas on the ground because higher mountains, including Mount Pisgah, block major portions of the project. Turbines would be visible from Arnold Pond but not from Natanis Point, specialists said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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