By Maureen Milliken
Plans for a $235 million wind farm in Washington County, in the works since 2013, are before the Maine Land Use Planning Commission for review, a final step before construction can begin.
The state Department of Environmental Protection passed the Apex Clean Energy project on to the commission for review last month after DEP determined the wind farm is an allowed use under its guidelines. The LUPC is the planning authority for the state's 10.4 million acres of unorganized territory.
Apex, of Chartlottesvile, Va., doing business as Downeast Wind LLC, plans the 126 megawatt, 30-turbine wind farm in the town of Columbia, where seven of the turbines will be, and adjacent unorganized territory of T18 and T24. Besides the turbines, the project will include a maintenance building, three temporary towers, electrical collections corridors, transmission lines, new access roads and improvement to existing roads.
The LUPC on May 19 determined that the wind project is an allowed use in the area, with no rezoning required, but is still reviewing whether the plans meet use requirements for the general management subdistrict, as well as protection districts for floodplains, great pond, remote recreation and wetland.
The commission has asked for additional site information from Apex, including more detailed maps about location of turbines and other elements, and a history of the land division on the site.
Apex officials said once permitting is complete, construction will begin this year or next, with the wind farm going online in 2023 or 2024. The company has said it expects to create six permanent jobs, as well as 164 temporary jobs during construction. The 126 megawatts produced annually is enough to power 38,000 homes, the company said.
While Apex is headquartered in Virginia, the local Downeast Wind development team includes Portland-based engineering company Stantec; Sewell Engineering, of Old Town; TJDA landscape architects, of Yarmouth; Portland law firm Verrill; Bodwell Enviroacoustics, of Brunswick; and energy development firm Flycatcher, of Brunswick...................
.....................Seven turbines will be in Columbia, along the northern edges of blueberry barrens and to the north of Baseline Road. Another six are in the Thousand Hills area of T18; six are in the Crebo Flat and Hawk Hill Road area of T18 and the remainder are in T24, according to the project description filed with LUPC.
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