Houlton Region

Houlton Rotarians apprised of potential wind farm project

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary club conducted its fourth online meeting Monday, April 27, with 39 members and guests in attendance. 

There were several announcements during the meeting, including Rotarian Josh McLaughlin announcing that the Houlton Stimulus Project has raised over $45,000 in funds to help local area businesses due to the ripple effect of COVID-19. 

McLaughlin has been heading up the Stimulus Project and said he originally set a goal of $5,000 that he hoped area business would meet. He said he was inspired by how far the town has exceeded expectations.

Businesses are still able to contribute to this project and can contact McLaughlin at 532-6335 or at josh@jmclaughlinconstruction.com.

Katie Chapman and Amy Kurt were the guest speakers of Rotarian Matt Nightingale. She is the Number Nine Project Manager and has been with EDP Renewables North America LLC for 10 years. Chapman coordinates permitting, land acquisition, outreach, and other activities to prepare renewable energy projects for construction. Chapman resides on Swan’s Island with her family. 

Kurt is the senior manager of Regional Government Affairs for EDP Renewables. She works on policy development and implementation from Maine to Illinois. She currently resides in Chicago.

Chapman and Kurt outlined EDP Renewables North America as developing, constructing, owning and operating wind farms and solar parks throughout North America. 

EDPR is ranked fourth in the United States in installed wind capacity and produces enough energy to power approximately 2 million homes. 

EDPR is trying to develop a wind farm in northern Aroostook County called the Number Nine Wind Farm. This is located nine miles west of Route 1 between Presque Isle and Houlton. The proposed wind turbines would be located in forested, unincorporated territory. 

EDP Renewables began work on the wind farm in 2001 and installed meteorological towers (to test wind speeds) in 2006. The area was described as having a tremendous wind energy resource that is largely untapped.

Both Chapman and Kurt state that there are many benefits to the Wind Farm project including tax revenue, jobs and spending, landowner payments, as well as sponsorships. 

In fact, they project that the Number Nine Wind Farm will generate $250 million in property tax revenue over a 30-year timeline (based on a 400 M W project). The Wind Farm leases land to host the wind farm infrastructure and pays annual payments to landowners who lease their land for the project. 

They expect an extensive job increase to Mainers, and more specifically, citizens of Aroostook County during development and construction of the project. EDP Renewables has collaborated with communities near the project area, and plans to continue supporting those communities and organizations.

ISO-New England is requiring Number Nine Wind Farm to connect to the grid at Pittsfield, Maine. Chapman illustrated that the majority of the new “generator lead line” from Haynesville to Coopers Mills will parallel existing power lines, and that the majority of the easements needed for this power line have been acquired.

However, in order to build the wind farm, EDP Renewables needs a buyer for its power. Maine has issued a request for proposals to procure renewable energy and the Number Nine Wind Farm will be submitting a bid. Bids are due by May 11, and a winner will be selected by the end of the year.

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