July 20, 2013

Moscow-area wind farm plan subject of Monday public hearing

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The Department of Environmental Protection is seeking public comment on a Boston developer's proposal to build a $398 million, 62-turbine wind farm in the Moscow area.

The project by Blue Sky West, a subsidiary of First Wind Inc., is being reviewed by the department and the company is awaiting a decision to be made in November on its approval. The wind farm would include turbines in Bingham, Mayfield Township and Kingsbury Plantation and other buildings and support property in Moscow, Abbot and Parkman.

Construction could begin in 2014 if the application is approved.

On Monday residents will have the opportunity to ask questions and comment at the first of two required public meetings to be hosted by First Wind from 6 to 9 p.m. at Moscow Elementary School.

Both Bingham and Moscow have agreements with First Wind that they would receive annual payments for 20 years -- Bingham would receive $8,000 a year for each tower built within town lines and Moscow would get $20,000 a year.

Selectmen have said the money would be used to help lower taxes in both communities and that a majority of people support the project, although in the past there have been residents concerned with construction and placement of the towers in relation to the town.

Jeff Nott, 52, is a Bingham resident who helped organize a petition to halt wind power development until the town created an ordinance on wind turbines. Nott said he remains concerned about the effects a wind farm would have on the town.

The town approved an ordinance in 2011.

Nott, who lives on a farm and is a certified nature guide, said his concerns include the need to cut trees and the death of birds in the area as well as the economic impact on the town's tourism industry.

"If somebody could present to me a good reason for why we should have this, I would listen," he said. "But so far I haven't heard one yet."

According to the project application, parts of the project would be built on ridges and hills along state Route 16 in the Somerset County towns of Bingham, Moscow, Mayfield Township, Abbot and Parkman and Kingsbury Plantation in Piscatiquis County. Eleven turbines are proposed for Bingham, 29 in Mayfield and 22 in Kingsbury.

First Wind has five operating wind farms in Maine, including Mars Hill in Aroostook County, two near Danforth in Washington County, one near Lincoln in Penobscot County and one near Eastbrook in Hancock County. The business is developing another project in Oakfield, in Aroostook County.

The Somerset County plans include upgrades to roads and new roads to gain access to turbines and crane paths, up to five permanent and five temporary meteorological towers, an operations and maintenance building in Mayfield Township and above- and below-ground electrical collector lines among the turbines, according to the application.

Rachel Ohm -- 612-2368
rohm@mainetoday.com

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