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Eastern Maine wind project approved

October 5, 2011

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ELLSWORTH, Maine—A Down East wind farm that would produce enough electricity to supply the needs of 12,000 to 15,000 homes was approved Wednesday by Maine development regulators.

The Land Use Regulation Commission voted 6-0, with one absentee, to approve the $78 million energy project. It is to be built on 100 acres of private land owned by a forestry firm, Lakeville Shores.

Blue Sky East LLC of Portland, an affiliate of Massachusetts-based First Wind, proposed building 19 windmills on Bull Hill and Heifer Hill near Eastbrook in central Hancock County. The turbines would be built atop 312-foot towers. With the blades fully extended, the total height would be 476 feet.

"We appreciate LURC's thoughtful review of our Bull Hill Wind project, and the professionalism of their staff throughout the process," First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said after the vote. "We are grateful for the support we've received from the community and local landowners. We hope to start construction as soon as we can and have it completed by the end of 2012."

The 34.2-megawatt project's developers have a long-term power sales agreement with Massachusetts electric utility NStar. Power from each turbine at the site will be transmitted to a new substation, which will "step up" the power to 115 kilovolts and transmit it directly to Bangor Hydro Electric Co.

The Hancock County commissioners have already approved tax agreements with Blue Sky East for the project. One agreement sets up a tax-increment financing district and formula by which the county and First Wind would share tax revenues generated by the project. Another would establish a separate schedule of per-turbine payments to the county.