The U.S. Department of Energy has issued a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee to cover a portion of the cost of constructing the Record Hill wind project. In addition to providing clean, renewable power to New England’s grid, the sponsor expects the project to create 200 construction jobs in Maine.
“Today’s announcement is good for this country’s clean energy future, and it’s good for the people of Maine who will benefit from the jobs generated by this project,” said DOE Secretary Chu. “Record Hill introduces an innovative technology to the U.S. that will boost domestic wind generation and help us reach President Obama’s goal of doubling clean energy produced in America by 2035.”
The Record Hill project will avoid over 70,000 tons of carbon pollution annually, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over 13,000 passenger vehicles. The wind facility will consist of 22 2.3 megawatt SWT-2.3-93 turbines and new transmission lines to interconnect with Central Maine Power, the local utility. The turbines will be installed with innovative Turbine Load Control (TLC) technology, a system of sensors and processing software that allows the turbines to continue to generate electricity under turbulent conditions, rather than be shut down completely. TLC is also expected to reduce wear-and-tear on the turbines, reduce operation and management costs, and preserve the lifetime of the turbine components.
As part of the financing commitment, it was announced that the Yale University Endowment would be a major sponsor of the project, working with the Maine-based Independence Wind, LLC and Wagner Wind Energy I, LLC of Lyme, New Hampshire to bring the project to completion.
“We’re delighted that the exhaustive review done by the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office has resulted in this step toward making the project a reality,” said Independence Wind, LLC President, Rob Gardiner. “And having a world-class financial partner like the Yale endowment involved brings real financial depth and expertise to the table as well.”
The 22-turbine wind-power project was approved by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in August of 2009 after a nine-month process involving numerous public meetings and the submission of voluminous environmental studies. Project opponents appealed this permit to the Board of Environmental Protection, which denied the appeal last March. Opponents then appealed the Board’s order to the Maine Supreme Court which heard arguments on the case in January. A decision on the case is expected soon.
“We are extremely pleased about this successful partnership with Independence Wind and Yale,” said Wagner Wind Energy I, LLC President Tom Colgan. “We look forward to continuing to work on innovative ways to sustainably utilize natural resources and provide economic benefits to Maine communities.”
In addition to increased tax revenue and job creation, Record Hill Wind will be providing free electricity to all residents within the town of Roxbury – a benefit the developers believe is a first in the nation idea.
The project has an estimated cost of $125 million and electrical output of 122.1 million kWh per year, the equivalent of the electricity used by approximately 20,000 typical Maine households.