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New wind project proposed for Eastbrook, Osborn, Aurora and T16



ELLSWORTH — Boston-based developer Longroad Energy is proposing a $140 million wind project for Eastbrook, Osborn, Aurora and Township 16 that would be adjacent to two existing wind projects: Hancock Wind and Bull Hill.

Matt Kearns, chief development partner for Longroad Energy, and land owner Duane Jordan met with Hancock County officials on Friday.

County Administrator Scott Adkins, County Commission Chairman Antonio Blasi, Commissioner Bill Clark and Millard Billings, unorganized territories supervisor, attended the meeting. Commissioner Percy “Joe” Brown was absent.

Longroad Energy describes itself as “a renewable energy developer focused on the development and operation of wind and solar energy projects throughout North America.”

“We’re here to reintroduce ourselves and reboot the discussion,” Kearns said. “We want to be here in the most harmonious way possible.”

The developer said he expects to have an application to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in October and the wind project operational by 2020. The project would also require a permit from the state Department of Transportation and approval by the Land Use Planning Commission.

“If we are successful, the contract would be with Emera and Central Maine Power,” Kearns said.

The project will tap into Emera’s 115 KV substation at Bull Hill.

The company has offered the state energy at 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, Kearns said. “It’s the true benefit of renewable energy — free fuel— so you ought to be able to offer it at a fixed price.”

Much of the discussion centered on what benefits Hancock County might receive from the project.

Maine law requires wind energy development projects to provide “tangible benefits” or a “community benefit agreement” for the host community.

Such an agreement entails the developer making payments to the host municipality to be used for public purposes.

Because part of Longroad Energy’s proposed wind project is in unorganized territory, Hancock County would be considered a host community.

Hancock County receives funds from the existing wind farms — Hancock Wind and Bull Hill.

Kearns told the group that Longroad Energy has signed an agreement to provide funds to restore a dam on Lower Lead Mountain Pond.

Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is “very supportive” because it will help fishing habitats, Kearns said. The funds from Longroad Energy would help the camp owners unlock matching grant funds for the dam restoration.

“We can’t sign anything until all your permits are approved,” Blasi said.

Clark questioned whether Hancock County should benefit financially from the project.

“Antonio, quite honestly, I’m trying to figure out why we deserve anything,” Clark said. “How do you defend the public’s assertion you’re being bought?”

Clark also mentioned the commissioners’ lack of regulatory authority.

But, the former sheriff also played devil’s advocate.

“The other side of me says ‘give me all you want’,” Clark said. “We have more projects than we have money for.”

Blasi told Clark that the project is happening anyway.

Adkins said he does not see an issue with the county receiving funds.

“They’re coming through the unorganized territories with a transmission line,” Adkins said. “As long as the amount of responsible …”

Billings said, “I think improvement of that road is a big issue for us.”

“We see a lot of tax revenues from those lakes,” Billings said. “So if that water level drops, those camp owners are going to unload those camps.”

 

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained an error. The proposed project would be located in Eastbrook, Osborn, Aurora and Township 16.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.