Boston-based developer First Wind has proposed a 186 MW project in Maine. Named the Bingham Wind Farm, it could become New England's biggest wind project.
Through subsidiaries Blue Sky West and Blue Sky West II, First Wind is seeking to install 62 wind turbines across Mayfield Township (29 turbines), Kingsbury Plantation (22) and Bingham (11). The approximately $400 million project would also include a 34.5 kV electrical collector system, a handful of met towers, an operations and maintenance building, and an associated transmission line.
No stranger to wind development in Maine, First Wind already has five projects in the state representing a cumulative capacity of 219 MW.
"First Wind has a successful track record of identifying locations with good wind sources and developing well-sited projects, and Bingham fits that profile," John Lamontagne, the company's director of communications, tells NAW. If approved, he says the Bingham project would power more than 75,000 homes in New England.
In May, First Wind submitted its project application to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The department recently held a meeting to get public input on the wind farm, and according to local media reports, the reactions were mixed. Some attendees touted the project's potential economic benefits and called for more renewables, while others cited concerns such as noise and possible threats to birds.
Meanwhile, Lamontagne maintains that First Wind has completed environmental studies to help minimize impacts to habitat and wildlife and there appears to be strong support for the project among the public.
"This project will deliver much-needed economic opportunity to local communities and bring economic development to an area in desperate need for jobs and revenues," he says, adding that the project could employ more than 200 people.
Another public meeting is expected later this year. Lamontagne says the DEP approval would be a significant milestone for the project, but notes that securing financing and power purchase agreements will also be critical in moving the project forward. He says the construction schedule has not yet been determined.
Currently, New England's largest wind farm is the 132 MW Kibby project, whichÂ TransCanada Corp. completed in 2010. That project is also in Maine.