First Wind Holdings Inc. (First Wind) has received approval from the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) to build a 25.5 megawatt (MW) expansion of the Stetson Wind project outside of Danforth, Maine. First Wind filed its permit application with LURC for the Stetson Wind expansion project on November 4, 2008. The commission held a hearing March 4, 2009 and provided approval. On January 22, 2009, the original 38-turbine, 57 MW Stetson Wind project became operational.
It is First Wind’s second project in Maine, and is currently the largest utility-scale wind farm in New England, with the capacity to generate enough energy to power about 23,000 homes.
The proposed expansion of the Stetson project adjacent to the existing Stetson project will consist of 17 GE 1.5 MW turbines. First Wind also owns and operates the 42 MW Mars Hill Wind project in Aroostook County.
During the review process by LURC, First Wind highlighted a number of economic and environmental benefits that the Stetson expansion will bring to the local area as well as across the state. Such benefits include:
Providing Maine with an alternative, sustainable energy supply;
Reducing the dependence on foreign fuels;
Strengthening the diversity of our energy supply;
Increasing tax revenue in Washington County; and
Creating more green jobs for Maine residents.
Upon completion, the Stetson Wind expansion project will:
Consist of the construction and operation of 17 additional state-of-the-art GE 1.5 MW wind turbines, bringing the total to 55. The 25.5 MW expansion, combined with the original Stetson project, will make it an 82.5 MW facility.
Create employment opportunities during the design, engineering and construction of the facility. Whenever possible, First Wind hires in-state businesses to conduct much of the needed work.
“We appreciate LURC’s thoughtful review of this project, and we are grateful for the support we have received throughout this process from many leading organizations, state officials and members of the local community,” said Matt Kearns, First Wind’s vice president of development for the Northeast. “We’re looking forward to starting construction on this project soon.”
“The first phase of the Stetson Wind project has provided a real boost to the Maine economy, creating approximately 350 jobs and seeing more than $50 million spent in Maine,” said First Wind’s chief development officer, Kurt Adams. “We expect the expansion of the Stetson project to also have a significant economic impact. Maine recognizes the economic and environmental benefits of wind projects like ours, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to move forward with a new project that will deliver more clean, renewable power to residents of Maine and New England.” `
Senate Republican Leader Kevin Raye, who represents Washington county in the Maine Senate, praised LURC’s decision. “This is good news for our region. The expansion of wind power at Stetson Mountain not only helps us lessen reliance on foreign sources of energy and reduce carbon emissions, but it helps position Washington county to leverage job-creation and economic development in the green energy sector.”
“First Wind has been a tremendous steward of resources, the environment, but more importantly the public’s trust – they put forth a promise and they delivered with Stetson Wind,” said Chris Gardner, Washington county Commissioner. “I welcome the expansion of Stetson Wind, the economic benefits it will bring to local businesses, and the clean energy it will produce right here in Washington county.”