Maine land use regulators approve First Wind's 34-MW Bull Hill wind farm in Township 16 MD near Eastbrook, impose strict standards on noise, require financing be secured before construction begins

Rachel Carter

Rachel Carter

Oct 5, 2011 – Bangor Daily News

ELLSWORTH, Maine , October 5, 2011 (press release) – State regulators on Wednesday approved a 19-turbine wind energy project proposed for rural Hancock County.

The Bull Hill wind farm being sought by Blue Sky East LLC — a subsidiary of First Wind — would be located in Township 16 MD near Eastbrook. The wind energy facility would be rated to produce a maximum of 34 megawatts of electricity from turbines measuring 476 feet tall from base to blade tip.

Members of the Land Use Regulation Commission voted unanimously with one abstention to approve the project but not before imposing some of the strictest standards to date on wind projects in Maine.

Responding to concerns raised by local residents as well a wind energy ordinance adopted in nearby Eastbrook, LURC set a maximum noise limit of 40 decibels at several residences located within the “protected location” zone near the project. That is five decibels below the Department of Environmental Protection’s current standard and three decibels lower than revised noise standards being considered by the Board of Environmental Protection.

The commission also required First Wind to set aside more money to decommission and remove the turbines should the project cease operations. It also mandated the company have the project’s financing lined up before beginning construction.

Officials with First Wind, which operates several wind energy facilities in Maine, said they were pleased with the vote. Critics of the project said they were disappointed with the ultimate outcome although they were pleased that more stringent standards were applied to the Bull Hill project than on other wind farms.

“I think LURC is learning on the job and considering more things,” said Lynne Williams, a Bar Harbor attorney representing members of the group Concerned Citizens of Rural Hancock County.

The commission will deliberate Wednesday afternoon on another wind energy project proposed for an area east of Springfield. However, the commission is not expected to vote on the permit application, also from Massachusetts-based First Wind.

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