Thursday, April 17, 2014
MOSCOW -- The town is looking at a benefits package from a wind power developer as part of a project involving installation of turbines on hills in Bingham and extending into Mayfield and Blanchard townships and Kingsbury Plantation.
Boston developer First Wind said it is "looking seriously at developing a project in the Bingham area," according to spokesman John LaMontagne. He said it is still "very early in the process" but that if approved, the project would include installing 50 to 60 wind turbines on land currently used for timber harvesting. In addition to millions of dollars of investment in the region, he said, the project would create hundreds of jobs during construction as well as 10 to 12 full-time positions after construction.
Getting licensed by the state requires the company to offer benefits packages to surrounding communities, First Selectman Donald Beane said. On Thursday the town plans to hold a special town meeting to vote on whether to accept a package of $20,000 a year for 20 years.
Beane said the town probably would put the money toward reducing property taxes.
"One of our goals is to be a good neighbor to the community, and one of the first steps in this process is coming up with a tax plan and benefits agreements for the surrounding communities," LaMontagne said.
"There might be some people opposed to it, but I really don't anticipate the town not accepting this," Beane said.
Last summer First Wind joined with a Nova Scotia-based energy company, Emera Inc., to develop a project bringing wind power along a 227-mile stretch of land from northern and eastern Maine through the Canadian Maritimes and Massachusetts. The company already has four major wind farms in Maine and last month won approval from state regulators for a 50-turbine, 150-megawatt project in the Aroostook County town of Oakfield.
"So far we have had very strong support from community residents," LaMontagne said of the Bingham-area project.
Rachel Ohm -- 612-2368