Oakfield wind farm complete

9 years ago

    OAKFIELD, Maine — Nearly eight years after talks of erecting wind turbines on the hills of Oakfield were first broached, the $369 million project is now complete.

All 48 of the 3-megawatt Vestas turbines have been erected and the turbines will soon be online, according to Peter Garrett, superintendent of the Oakfield wind project for SunEdison Inc.
“The turbines are now going online and three of the four circuits are now energized,” Garrett said on Sept. 9. “Within the next couple of weeks, people should be able to see all of the turbines making power.”
Situated approximately 2.5 miles from the center of Oakfield, the turbines will be capable of generating a total of almost 150 megawatts of power, which has been contracted to companies in Massachusetts.
The massive turbines, which stand 280 feet tall, with blades that are 180 feet long, have the capacity to produce energy to power more than 50,000 homes. A total of 500 acres were cleared for the wind farm, making it the largest such project in the state to date.
Electricity generated from the turbines will be transmitted along a 59-mile line to a substation in Chester, near Lincoln.
“This project has gone very well and we are slightly ahead of schedule,” Garrett said. “At our peak we had about 200 employees a day, totalling 390,000 man hours on this project. We expect to be fully operational within the next month.”
Construction began in December 2013 and involved nearly 900 employees, predominantly sub-contractors and many of whom were local workers. Those workers were busy building new roads, the electrical collection system and creating the bases for the turbines. Many of the roads that were built during the construction phase will be closed and reseeded to a natural state, leaving no trace of the building stage.
Garrett said during construction, crews regularly saw a multitude of wildlife, ranging from deer to rabbits and birds.
“The wildlife really seems to adjust to us,” he said. “They are always here when we are working.”
Thomas Frazier, wind farm support specialist, is one of the many local residents who was employed by the project. Frazier, a resident of Island Falls, worked with many of the subcontractors and environmentalists who came on site to do bird and bat studies.
“Being able to come back to my hometown and work on a project of this caliber has given me a good feeling of pride,” he said.
The project began with First Wind, which was originally granted permission from the town and DEP for 34 turbines along Sam Drew Mountain in September 2009. Construction never commenced as the Martha A. Powers Land Trust challenged the project. Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court rejected the Land Trust’s appeal in March 2011.
SunEdison bought First Wind for $2.4 billion in January, acquiring with the purchase the Oakfield project and the company’s five wind farms in operation in Maine including one in Mars Hill, two sites on Stetson Mountain.
Close to eight years in development, the Oakfield wind project has seen developers work closely with the town to solicit significant community input in designing the project.