Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lincoln Approval...

Lincoln OKs $130M wind farm
First of several steps in regulatory approval

LINCOLN — The Planning Board became the first of six reviewers to approve permits for a proposed $130 million wind farm that would create as much as 60 megawatts at peak winds, officials said Tuesday.

The board voted 6-1 during a meeting on Monday to approve the plan, which entails building 40 1.5-megawatt turbines on ridgelines in Burlington, Lincoln, Lee and Winn, with transmission lines in Mattawamkeag.

“This is a tremendous economic boost for Lincoln. The estimated $400,000 in tax revenue [the project is expected to provide annually to Lincoln] is definitely a benefit to all the taxpayers in our community,” Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said Tuesday.

The project needs approval from the other towns, Maine Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If those approvals come, construction is likely to take a year, First Wind officials have said. The approval process is expected to last three or four months.

First Wind officials and some residents touted the project as an economic boon to the region. They said it would create, at maximum capacity, about 60 megawatts of pollution-free electricity for the New England grid and employ as many as 10 full-time workers locally.

A group opposing the project, the Friends of Lincoln Lakes, have said that the project’s massive 380-foot turbines would blight the pristine landscape, threaten human and animal health and lower land values while typically generating a fraction of its capacity and failing to immediately reduce local residents’ electric rates.

The leaders of the group, which has retained an attorney, could not be reached immediately Tuesday for comment.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lincoln will not install a Moratorium on Wind

Contrary to the demand of the Friends of Lincoln Lakes, the Lincoln planning board has decided not to implement a 120 day moratorium on wind.

What's my opinion?  Like most rural towns in this state Lincoln is in need of economic stability. The installation of this project would inject tax revenues into Lincoln for years to come.  The long term benefits could include various public development projects, the possibility of lower tax rates and a general strengthening of our economic situation.  

Yes, there are some people that will always feel the turbines are un-sightly and that they disturb the natural surroundings.  And yes, this project would also be more enticing if it was a Maine based company that would benefit from it's installation.  And yes, the project would be even MORE enticing if it meant our electricity rates would come down.  There are always going to be ways in which these projects could be "better." 

The fact is that due to de-regulation, First Wind will have the ability to sell this electricity wherever they see fit, presumably where they can get the most money for it.  De-regulation installed a market based economy for electricity and just as we've seen recently in the financial markets, they don't always work.  In fact the removing of regulation often has the opposite affect as businesses work to maximize profit.  Case in point look at the upward trend in electricity prices over the past decade.

Honestly though this is not First Wind's fault.  They are just a player in the electricity generation market, they do not make the law.  And, their proposed investment in our town should be seen as a net positive.  What this project does do is put Lincoln in a strong position as we move into this next cycle of economic downturn and the eventual restraints on our state's power grid. 

Imagine years from now if regulation of power generation takes place.  The town of Lincoln may have the opportunity to purchase power from First Wind, transmit it using Bangor Hydro's transmission lines and sell it directly to you, the Lincoln resident.  

This may be many years down the line but installing these turbines here in Lincoln is a long term investment, one that will pay dividends for years to come and eventually may even equal a windfall for the town.  

Who's that good for?  It's good for all of us..... 

Please post your comments below, I'd love to hear what you think

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wind Hearing....

Were you there? What did you think?

Lincoln wind farm gets mixed reviews

By Nick Sambides Jr.


LINCOLN, Maine - Al Roy gets a lovely view of the sun rising over Rollins Mountain and glinting off Egg Pond. So do fellow Egg Pond Road residents Harry Washburn and Donald Smith.

The three attended a public hearing at Mattanawcook Academy on Wednesday to see how Evergreen Wind Power LLC’s proposed $120 million wind farm would appear if it gets Maine Department of Environmental Protection approval and is built on Rollins Mountain.

They examined several drawings and photographs depicting the 40 1.5-megawatt windmills. Then came their verdict:

"It’s hideous," Roy said.

"If I had known it [the wind farm] would look like this," Washburn said, "I would never have put in all the work I have done on my place."

"If this project goes through," Roy said, "it should be postponed for two years so landowners near it can sell their properties."

Conversely, resident Alan Smith thought the project would help satisfy the state’s growing electricity demand.

"Do you want to look at that," Smith said of the windmills, "or a smokestack? I would love to look out the window and see nothing but nature, but that’s unrealistic. I still want to turn on the light switch, too."

At least 65 people attended the DEP-required hearing. If approved, the 389-foot windmills would run through Lincoln from Burlington to Lee and Winn. Lincoln would have 19 or 20 turbines; Winn, three; Lee, seven; and Burlington, 12. Two turbine sites are listed as alternates, company officials have said.

The project would generate as much as 60 megawatts at peak periods and include 8.8 miles of 115,000-volt electrical line, an interconnection facility in Mattawamkeag, a substation in Lee and an operations facility in Lincoln, Evergreen officials said.

About 12.6 miles of new roads, and 3.7 miles of improvements to existing roads, will also occur.

Wind farm critics contend that they are noisy eyesores that foil landscapes, often fail to generate their peak capacities, and — given that their electricity often is sold elsewhere in New England — provide little direct benefit to host municipalities.

Proponents say the farms create no air or water pollution; lessen dependency on oil; and tap into a limitless natural resource while hedging against the electricity droughts seen in California.

Evergreen claims the project will generate 168 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

Evergreen is a subsidiary of First Wind of Massachusetts, the state’s largest producer of wind-to-energy facilities. First Wind is building a 38-turbine farm on Stetson Mountain between Danforth and Springfield and operating a 28-turbine wind farm in Mars Hill.

The company will submit its Rollins Mountain application to DEP by October, said Ryan Chayters, a senior development associate with First Wind.

Mars Hill resident Wendy Todd had a message for Rollins Mountain-area residents — be cautious.

"First Wind had a job to do: to sell this project," said Todd, who believes the Mars Hill project’s problems outweigh its benefits. "They don’t lie, but they don’t tell the whole truth. Consider everything you hear very carefully."

As examples: the Natural Resources Council of Maine accurately states that Mars Hill will receive $500,000 annually for 20 years for hosting the project, but doesn’t mention that the state Department of Education effectively reduced that figure by $249,000 by factoring the new money into its assessments.

They said First Wind employed 300 people during the Mars Hill construction, but most came from southern Maine, she said. Few local contractors or residents were qualified to do the work. And the noise the project makes, she said, is occasionally nightmarish.

"My worries are that small towns have no one to help them to understand these projects as a whole," Todd said. "They don’t know what to expect. They cannot fathom these things."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lincoln announces wind farm hearing

Lincoln is having a local hearing on the Wind Power project this Wednesday at Mattanawcook Academy from 6-9 pm. I will be there, will you?


By
Nick Sambides Jr.


LINCOLN, Maine - Evergreen Wind Power LLC will hold a hearing Wednesday on its plans to build a $120 million wind farm in Burlington, Lee, Winn and Lincoln. It would be the largest such electricity-generating facility in New England.

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Fast Facts

WHO: Evergreen Wind Power LLC, a subsidiary of First Wind of Massachusetts, the state’s largest producer of wind-to-energy facilities.
WHAT: Public hearing.
WHERE: Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.
WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19.
WHY: This is the first opportunity for extensive public comment on Evergreen’s proposed $120 million wind farm, the largest such electricity-generating facility, in New England, in Burlington, Lee, Winn and Lincoln.

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The hearing is part of the company’s efforts to secure permits to build 40 1.5-megawatt windmills creating as much as 60 megawatts of electricity on sites in the four towns. Evergreen is a subsidiary of First Wind of Massachusetts, the state’s largest producer of wind-to-energy facilities.

The windmills would be built on two sites on the Rollins Mountain range and Rocky Dundee Road areas, which run north to south through Lincoln from Burlington to Lee and Winn. Lincoln would have 19 or 20 turbines; Winn, three; Lee, seven; and Burlington, 12. Two turbine sites are listed as alternates, company officials have said.

The company also would install a 115,000-volt transmission line that would run from the north end of Rollins Mountain to a Mattawamkeag connection to the New England grid.

Interim Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said the hearing is a required and integral part of Evergreen’s Rollins Mountain application before the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies. The hearing will be at Mattanawcook Academy from 6 to 9 p.m. The public is invited.

Evergreen’s success is far from assured. Wind farm critics contend that they are noisy eyesores that upset the natural beauty of landscapes, fail to generate anywhere close to their peak capacities, and — given that their electricity often is sold elsewhere in New England — provide little direct benefit to host municipalities.

Still, the town continues to work on developing a tax-break agreement with Evergreen that would help the project be built and operate should it be approved.

"We have made our agreements for them to pay for our attorneys and consulting fees and we expect to have the TIF agreements ready for a public hearing in the next month or two," Goodwin said Thursday. "That’s our hope. It depends on their work."

First Wind is building a 38-turbine farm in Stetson Mountain between Danforth and Springfield and operating a 28-turbine wind farm in Mars Hill. That work, and efforts to install a 38-mile, 115,000-volt line from Stetson to the Keene Substation in Chester, already have provided economic benefits to the town, Goodwin said.

As many as 300 workers are helping build Stetson and the new electrical line.

"They are staying in our hotels, eating in our establishments and utilizing our stores," Goodwin said.

One primary line construction firm, PowerTel Utilities Contractors LTD of Ontario, temporarily moved into a former Chevrolet dealership on Route 2 on July 1. About 65 workers, including subcontractors, work and store equipment there.

The firm will be there until the job is finished, probably by December, said Scott Ingraham, project manager.

"This is an ideal situation for us, because we have lots of yard space to repair and store things," Ingraham said.

Warehouse supervisor Shawn Picard was glad the company got the Stetson Mountain job. A Millinocket resident and Maine Maritime Academy student, the 20-year-old was pleased to be working closer to home than Nova Scotia and Ontario, the company’s previous work sites.

More direct benefits are expected when First Wind selects a town location for an office that will oversee its northern Maine operations. Its search is ongoing, Goodwin said.

Company officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Update: I met Dave from First Wind

On Thursday night while I was at Shooters with some friends I met Dave....we started talking and I immediately found out that he works for First Wind. First Wind is the Mass based company who's built the towers on Mars Hill, Stetson Mountain and eventually will build on Rollins Hill.
Weird right? Well, he's part of the data collection team, they put up wind towers on land that's being evaluated for wind resources. It sounded like a cool job, they come up to Lincoln for about 2 weeks every couple months and check on the towers, collect the data and put up new towers if needed.

Anyways he said that things are moving along smoothly in Lincoln and while he did not have a time frame for when they would start building he said he did expect to see the towers functional before the end of 2009.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

tifs being proposed for the Rollings Wind Project

First Wind will seek tax breaks in the form of tifs from the town of Lincoln, thereby sheltering the increased valuation of this investment down the road. The tif will allow Lincoln to keep the majority of tax revenues but it will also require the town to invest in economic and community development. Sounds like a good idea to me...

Here is the detailed article from the Bangor Daily

Lincoln: Wind developer to seek 4-town tax breaks

By Nick Sambides Jr.


LINCOLN, Maine - A Massachusetts firm that is Maine’s first and largest wind power producer will seek tax breaks from four Lincoln Lakes towns that will host its proposed $120 million wind farm, officials said Wednesday.

If all goes well, First Wind will be applying by the end of the year for permits to build 40 1.5-megawatt windmills creating as much as 60 megawatts of electricity on sites in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn.

Concurrent with that effort will be applications to secure tax-increment financing deals from those towns, said John LaMontaigne, First Wind’s spokesman.

Such tax breaks, LaMontaigne said, provide "a critical foundation that helps us ensure the viability of the project."

"We have spoken with officials [from the towns], and they have been receptive to the idea," he said. "TIFs provide tax stability, or certainty, that we find very helpful."

When a town realizes an increase in valuation created by an investment, it also experiences a reduction in its share of state revenues and an increase in county taxes. A TIF allows a town to "shelter" the new valuation from the calculations of state revenue sharing, education subsidy and county tax assessment — in effect creating more money for the town, usually over 20 years.

With a TIF, however, the money that a town gains must be invested in community economic development projects, such as industrial parks or infrastructure improvements that aid businesses.

In 2007, TIFs given to Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC and other companies brought Lincoln about $238,000 in captured tax dollars that the town invested in itself, Economic Development Director Ruth Birtz said.

The investments include funds reserved for the development of Lincoln Industrial Park West, a proposed industrial park to be located near Lincoln Regional Airport; a new GPS mapping system the town uses; new streetlights downtown; several downtown beautification efforts; and the budgeting of some salaried positions, Birtz said.

"Because the cost of developing those turbines is so expensive, it helps give them a little more breathing room on their high investment," Birtz said.

The windmills would be built on two sites on the Rollins Mountain range and Rocky Dundee Road areas that run north to south through Lincoln from Burlington to Lee and Winn, LaMontaigne has said.

Lincoln would have 19 or 20 turbines; Winn, three; Lee, seven; and Burlington, 12. Two turbine sites are listed as alternates. The company also would install a 115,000-volt transmission line that would run from the north end of Rollins Mountain to a Mattawamkeag connection to the New England grid.

Evergreen Wind Power LLC, a subsidiary of First Wind, would begin seeking permits by late summer. Construction would finish in late 2009 at the earliest.

First Wind is building a 38-turbine farm in Stetson Mountain between Danforth and Springfield and operating a 28-turbine wind farm in Mars Hill. Those communities have also secured TIFs for the projects.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rollins Wind Project Announced

Well, it's official. First Wind has laid the groundwork for a wind project in the towns of Lincoln, Lee, Burlington and Winn. First Wind, a company headquartered in Newton Massachusetts with offices in Portland sat down with town management last week to line out the proposal. Further info is posted on the weekly news within the lincolnmaine.org website. Here is a direct link

And, here is the recent article from the Bangor Daily

Lincoln: Area poised to be top wind farm site

By Nick Sambides Jr.


LINCOLN, Maine — Four Lincoln Lakes region towns will be home to New England’s largest wind energy facility and a company headquarters employing five to seven people if a Massachusetts firm realizes its plans, company officials said Monday.

With 40 1.5-megawatt windmills creating as much as 60 megawatts of electricity on sites in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn, the proposed Rollins Wind farm would slightly outproduce the 38-turbine Stetson Mountain site being built between Danforth and Springfield and the 28-turbine wind farm operating in Mars Hill.

If all goes well, Evergreen Wind Power LLC, a subsidiary of First Wind of Massachusetts, would begin seeking permits by late summer. Construction would finish in late 2009 at the earliest, said Ryan Chaytors, a senior development associate with First Wind, which was known as UPC Wind until May 1.

"We are still in the early stages. We have a lot of study yet to do," Chaytors said after his presentation Monday to the Town Council. "We’re very excited to be in Lincoln. We have had a lot of support from town officials so far."

The 40 turbines would cost about $22 million total. They would be built on two sites on the Rollins Mountain range and Rocky Dundee Road areas that run north to south through Lincoln from Burlington to Lee and Winn, company spokesman John LaMontaigne said.

Lincoln would have 19 or 20 turbines; Winn, three; Lee, seven; and Burlington, 12. Two turbine sites are listed as alternates. The company also would install a 115,000-vote transmission line that would run from the north end of Rollins Mountain to a Mattawamkeag connection to the New England grid.

At the 60-megawatt peak, Rollins Wind would sell enough electricity wholesale to power 23,000 New England homes annually. Given wind’s inconsistency, company officials expect the site would produce considerably less, about 168,000 megawatt hours annually. That’s a conservative estimate. Mars Hill produced 150,000 megawatt-hours in 2007, much more than expected in its first year, Chaytors said.

The company, which has had test turbines on Rocky Dundee Road since January, needs to finish testing before it decides whether to proceed, said Matt Kearns, project manager with First Wind. But the test sites have proved successful thus far.

Council Chairman Steve Clay and Town Economic Development Assistant Ruth Birtz called First Wind’s interest good news for Lincoln because power from the farm will flow into the New England power grid for sale to power companies.

It will not provide electricity directly to homeowners, but the farm would provide a hedge in New England against the runaway electricity costs and brownouts that have been seen in California. It might eventually provide electricity for industrial sites like Lincoln Paper & Tissue LLC.

The wind farm will establish Lincoln as a major industrial site for the fledgling — at least in New England — wind power industry. About 300 workers would live in the area during construction, boosting hotels, restaurants and other places workers would frequent and providing work to local subcontractors. The turbines also would provide tax revenues to the communities.

"I’m very pleased that we have a major resource, wind, that will be utilized," Birtz said. "We would never have thought of it as a resource."