ROCKWOOD (AP) – Maine land regulators on Wednesday gave their approval to a zoning change and preliminary plan for a 38-turbine wind project in eastern Maine that would be the largest wind farm in the region.

The Land Use Regulation Commission unanimously approved the zoning request for a 57-megawatt project on Stetson Mountain, a ridge line that stretches between Danforth and Springfield in northern Washington County.

The applicant, Evergreen Wind Power, has already built the region’s largest operating wind farm – a 42-megawatt, 28-turbine project in Mars Hill, Maine, that started generating power earlier this year. Evergreen is a subsidiary of UPC Wind Management of Newton, Mass.

Matt Kearns, the Stetson Mountain project manager, said construction will begin this winter pending final approval by LURC and the Department of Environmental Protection. The wind farm, which will generate enough electricity for 27,000 homes, could be operational by the end of 2008.

“Today is an important milestone,” Kearns said. “We’re ready to move ahead.”

LURC’s staff recently endorsed the $100 million project, citing its positive economic impact on Washington County and the environmental benefits of additional wind power in Maine.

The company is already staging materials in the area in preparation for construction.

The wind farm has been endorsed by a number of environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Audubon and the Appalachian Mountain Club.

The project is a “big step toward a cleaner, brighter future for Maine,” said Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

The wind turbine towers will be 262 feet tall, with blade diameters of 253 feet, according to the company’s Web site. The turbine at maximum height will be 389 feet tall.

AP-ES-11-07-07 1914EST

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