MARS HILL (AP) – A proposal to develop Maine’s first wind farm along the ridge of Mars Hill Mountain won the endorsement Tuesday of the state’s largest environmental organization.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine said the plan by Evergreen Wind Power LLC of Bangor would reduce the impact of electric power generation on the environment and would be healthier for Mainers.

The organization also said Maine should make a commmitment to have at least 5 percent of its electricity generated by wind power by 2010.

“The time has come to start harnessing some of Maine’s strong winds for the purpose of generating clean, renewable energy,” said Pete Didisheim, the council’s advocacy director.

Evergreen filed an application for the 50-megawatt project with the state Department of Environmental Protection in late January and a decision is expected this spring. The power from as many as 33 turbines would generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 33,000 homes, according to the developer.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine said that by displacing dirtier forms of power generation, the project would lead to an annual reduction of 120,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 420 tons of sulfur dioxide and 288 tons of nitrogen oxides.

Didisheim said Maine can meet the 5 percent wind power goal by installing 200 megawatts of wind turbines, but he cautioned that proper siting is crucial because visual impact is a wind farm’s most significant identifiable impact.

“There are places in Maine where wind power projects should never be considered: Katahdin, Cadillac, Mount Spencer and Tumbledown are obvious examples,” he said.

The council said the state should put sites with exceptional scenic resources off-limits for wind power development and establish siting guidelines to help steer developers to the most suitable locations.

AP-ES-03-09-04 1359EST

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