Wind farm expected to reduce pollution


FARMINGTON – The proposed Redington Wind Farm will produce power 85 percent of the time, Harley Lee, a spokesman for Maine Mountain Power, told county commissioners Tuesday.

Lee, president of Endless Energy Corp. in Yarmouth, has partnered with Edison Mission Energy of California to develop the $130 million venture. He said data collected from 10 years of wind measurements on the ridge tops support the 85 percent production estimate.

The company sold its renewable energy for 10 years in March to Constellation NewEnergy. A contract clause requires the company to offer the power to medium and large businesses such as hospitals and schools in the local area first, Lee said.

The company plans to put 12 wind turbines on Redington Pond Range Mountain and 18 turbines on Black Nubble Mountain, both in Redington Township. The area is about 4 miles west of Sugarloaf/USA in Carrabassett Valley. Each tower and turbine will be 410 feet high.

Maine Land Use Regulation Commission staff is reviewing Endless Energy’s 1,775-page application. The commission granted an extension for the comment period to several reviewers who had requested it, Marcia Spencer-Famous, LURC staff member, said Tuesday in an e-mail.

Members of the public are welcome to send comments, she said, plus there will be a public hearing this summer, which will provide a forum for comment.

Lee said the state is expected in May to set a hearing date on the project for either July or August.

If all goes well, Lee said construction would begin this winter.

Lee also told commissioners that an independent firm conducted a survey of residents near a Searsburg, Vt., wind farm before and after it was built that showed half the opponents changed their minds to support the project after the first year, he said.

Wind power is a clean renewable energy, he said.

The Redington project would prevent 800,000 pounds of air pollution a day, equal to taking 26,000 cars off the road and reducing the use of oil by 50,000 gallons a day.

Wind power is not going to save the planet, he said, but it is part of the solution.

The project is designed to have low impact with roads built to minimal width, turbine pads and foundations developed for minimal intrusion and power lines built underground on the mountain. The project will use much existing infrastructure, and road and power lines will be situated for minimal visual impact.

The turbines will be white and won’t need to be lit during the day and every 3 seconds at night, Lee said.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to minimize the visual and environmental impact,” Lee said.

Redington would provide a low-cost, fixed price, long-term power alternative for Maine and bring a new industry to the state, he said. The project will provide good jobs to a low-income area – 50 to 100 during construction and five to 10 to operate the facility.

“It’s the right time to act, the right project, the right place,” Lee said.