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Stetson Wind Farm (Maine, USA)

Credits: ©2009 First Wind

One U.S. wind farm is on Stetson Mountain in eastern Maine. Each blade is 122 feet long. Each tower was lifted into place section-by-section by cranes so big they had to be hauled to the site in several pieces and reassembled. The Stetson project, now New England's largest at 38 turbines, can turn out enough electricity to power about 23,500 homes.


Stetson Wind Farm (Maine)

Stetson Wind Farm in Maine, USA ©Augu Robert Bukaty/MSNBC

First Wind is an independent wind energy company focused exclusively on the development, ownership and operation of wind energy projects in North America. As proposed, Stetson Wind will employ proven technology that will produce clean, reliable energy for Maine and New England. First Wind developed and operates New England’s first utility-scale wind farm, the highly successful Mars Hill Wind project.

Stetson Wind I: The 38 turbines of Stetson Wind I are located on Stetson Mountain, and will produce (at maximum output) over 167 million kWh annually of electricity—enough to power about 23,500 homes per year.

Stetson Wind II: Stetson Wind II, the planned extension of Stetson Wind I, will consist of 17 wind turbines sited on Jimmey and Owl Mountains, with the capacity to produce 25.5 megawatts (MW) of power. 11 turbines are proposed for Jimmey Mountain, and six on Owl Mountain.

Connection: The two wind turbine arrays will be connected through an overhead electric line connection.

Technology: The GE 1.5 MW turbines proposed for the Stetson Wind project are the most installed brand of turbines in the industry, and are currently being used by First Wind at the Mars Hill wind farm in Aroostook County, Maine. Over 12,000 units are in operation worldwide.

Turbine size: The tower is 262 feet tall and blade diameter is 253 feet. The turbine at maximum height is 389 feet tall.

Location: Jimmey and Owl Mountains, Washington County
Developer: First Wind
Project status: Permit approved by LURC on March 4, 2009. Construction expected to begin in 2009.
Size: 25.5 MW Number of turbines: 17 (1.5 MW turbines)
Capacity: 81,468,000 kilowatt hours of electric generation per year
Equivalent number of homes supplied per year: 11,407

The Stetson II wind project was approved by LURC in March, 2009. This 17-turbine project is an extension of the 38-turbine Stetson Ridge project, which became operational in January, 2009.

Estimated Emissions Avoided:
• CO2 (tons/year): 33,785
• NOx (tons/year): 35
• SOx (tons/year): 96

Q: What sounds do wind turbines make?

A: Wind turbines make a whooshing sound as the blades travel through the air. When standing directly under a wind turbine, you may hear a hum made by the generator and/or gearbox.* Source: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Wind Toolkit / University of Massachusetts, Renewable Energy Research Laboratory / American Wind Energy Association

Q: What benefit does a wind farm have for me if I don’t have wind turbines on my land?

A: A wind farm generates value for a local community, including: Revenues to Towns: Property taxes or payments in lieu of taxes. Revenues to Farming and Ranching Landowners: Providing significant and stable revenues to local farmers and ranchers. Short Term Construction Benefits: Taken as an example, the construction of 50 wind turbines will produce roughly 60 full and part time jobs and create a significant demand for local construction materials and services. It is First Wind’s policy to subcontract locally for construction to the greatest extent possible. Long Term Operations and Maintenance: Operation and maintenance of 50 wind turbines will produce approximately 4-6 long term service jobs. It is First Wind’s policy to hire and train locally to the greatest extent possible. Electricity Supply: America’s energy demand continues to increase, and wind energy provides a way to meet a portion of this increase without the drawbacks of other types of power generation: Coal plants produce significant amounts of pollutants, including carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas), SO2 (acid rain), NOx (acid rain and smog), particulate matter (asthma and other air pollution related illnesses), carbon monoxide, and mercury (contamination of fish and water supplies). Natural gas-fired plants, while cleaner than coal and oil, are often not cost competitive due to large and sudden fuel price increases. Large-scale hydroelectric projects have significant human and natural environmental consequences from the flooding of large areas of land.

Q: Do wind turbines shed ice?

A: Wind turbines shut down during icing events due to either imbalance detection or the control anemometer icing (the control anemometer tells the turbine how fast the wind is moving). Any ice buildup tends to shed while the turbine is at rest or while it is starting up (that is, moving at slower than operational speed). Due to this, and the fact that the ice sheds in thin, non-aerodynamic pieces that break apart as they fall, current turbine setbacks from roads and residences should be sufficient to protect the public from ice shed. To date, there has not been any insurance claim for injury due to ice shed. Source: Energy Insurance Brokers / South Bay Risk Management and Insurance Services / Garrad Hassan

Q: How does wind power affect birds and bats?

A: Recent data shows wind turbines account for less than 0.003% of all annual bird fatalities in the U.S. First Wind conducts extensive, multi-season environmental reviews of each potential project site to determine its impact on local wildlife. While we strive to minimize the impact of our wind turbines on birds and bats, it is impossible to ensure that no bird or bat will be affected. Many studies on the subject are ongoing, and most remain inconclusive on the full impact of wind power on wildlife. First Wind closely monitors research in this area as part of its environmental reviews. The National Research Council, in a comprehensive review of wind power, recently offered this perspective: Many studies on the subject are ongoing, and most remain inconclusive on the full impact of wind power on wildlife. First Wind closely monitors research in this area as part of its environmental reviews. The National Research Council, in a comprehensive review of wind power, recently offered this perspective: The overall importance of turbine-related deaths for bird populations is unclear. Collisions with wind turbines represent one element of the cumulative anthropogenic impacts on bird populations; other impacts include collisions with tall buildings, communications towers, other structures, and vehicles, as well as other sources of mortality such as predation by house cats (Erickson et al. 2001, 2005). While estimation of avian fatalities caused by wind-power generation is possible, the data on total bird deaths caused by most anthropogenic sources, including wind turbines, are sparse and less reliable than one would wish, and therefore it is not possible to provide an accurate estimate of the incremental contribution of wind-powered generation to cumulative bird deaths in time and space at current levels of development. Data on bat fatalities are even sparser. While there have been a few reports of bat kills from other anthropogenic sources (e.g., through collisions with buildings and communications towers), the recent bat fatalities from wind turbines appear to be unprecedentedly high. More data on direct comparisons of turbine types are needed to establish whether and why migratory bats appear to be at the greatest risk of being killed. Clearly, a better understanding of the biology of the populations at risk and analysis of the cumulative effects of wind turbines and other anthropogenic sources on bird and bat mortality are needed. Having said the above, we provide here estimates summarized by Erickson et al. (2005) and estimates reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2002a). Those sources emphasize the uncertainty in the estimates, but the numbers are so large that they are not obscured even by the uncertainty: Collisions with buildings kill 97 to 976 million birds annually Collisions with high-tension lines kill at least 130 million birds, perhaps more than one billion Collisions with communications towers kill between 4 and 5 million based on “conservative estimates,” but could be as high as 50 million Cars may kill 80 million birds per year Toxic chemicals, including pesticides, kill more than 72 million birds each year Domestic cats are estimated to kill hundreds of millions of songbirds and other species each year Collisions with wind turbines killed an estimated 20,000 to 37,000 birds per year in 2003, with all but 9,200 of those deaths occurring in California Erickson et al. (2005) estimates that total cumulative bird mortality in the United States “may easily approach 1 billion birds per year.” Clearly, bird deaths caused by wind turbines are a minute fraction of the total anthropogenic bird deaths—less than 0.003% in 2003 based on the estimates of Erickson et al. (2005). Source: National Research Council Wind Report 2007 Download the PDF [5 mb]

Q: How will wind turbines look in my community?

A: Beauty is subjective and while some people see wind turbines as a symbol of energy independence, others do not agree. First Wind encourages you to visit a wind farm and judge for yourself. However, if you cannot see a wind farm in person, please visit one of these websites to see pictures of an operating First Wind farm: www.marshillwind.com or www.kaheawa.com

Stetson I Wind Farm Permit

Stetson II Wind Farm Permit

Article from Bangor Daily News
by Nick Sambides Jr.
4 March 2009

BANGOR, Maine — The proposed $60 million Stetson II wind farm in Washington County earned its final state permit Wednesday after proponents made their strongest statements yet dismissing health concerns associated with wind power.

The Land Use Regulation Commission voted 5-0 to follow staff recommendations endorsing the 17-turbine project, which First Wind of Massachusetts will build in T8 R4 on Owl and Jimmey mountains north of Route 169 outside Danforth. It expands First Wind’s 38-turbine Stetson facility, which went online in January.

The project will create 350 temporary jobs while providing Maine with a sustainable, nonpolluting energy source, First Wind officials said.

“This is great for Washington County,” Harold Clossey, executive director of the Sunrise County Economic Council, said Wednesday. “We have had a wonderful experience working with First Wind and we look forward to the launch of Stetson II.”

No date for that launch has been set because funding for construction of the project is not in place. First Wind officials are hopeful that they will find investors, or money in the economic stimulus package, to fund installation.

Held at the Spectacular Event Center on Griffin Road, the three-hour meeting drew more than 40 people, including several who oppose First Wind’s 28-turbine Mars Hill facility and its proposed 40-turbine Rollins Mountain project on ridgelines in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn.

One opponent, Gary Steinberg of Lincoln, said Maine Department of Environmental Protection regulations were 20 years old and lacked standards regarding dBCs, or low-decibel sounds. He accused state officials of accepting “wind-industry propaganda” instead of real science. “They [the state standards] are based on no science,” Steinberg said.

“They have never been peer-reviewed or independently reviewed. This whole process needs further review.” “I am fascinated that only in the last two weeks have we heard about dBCs,” Commissioner Stephen Wight answered.

Low-decibel sound is allegedly the primary culprit of “wind turbine syndrome,” or “acoustic radiation,” in which people have claimed to suffer symptoms — including nausea, back problems, mood disorders, seizures and heart attacks — due to their proximity to turbines.

Strobe effects caused by rotating blades cutting sunlight also contribute to the syndrome, opponents say. But studies and other evidence claimed by anti-wind proponents, said attorney Dean Beaupain of Millinocket, who represents Lakeville Shores, one of the landowners benefiting from the project, “fall into two categories: not supported by any evidence or irrelevant.”

Lawyer Julia Brown, who represents First Wind, and Charles Wallace, a sound expert who reviewed the project for First Wind, objected to the “sweeping generalities” of Steinberg’s statements, their “lack of scientific support” and their last-minute introduction to LURC commissioners. Low-level sound standards and many scientific peer reviews are part of Department of Environmental Protection regulations.

Low-level sound has been studied since the 1960s, Wallace said, and Steinberg’s statements betray “a complete misunderstanding of the wisdom of DEP regulations,” which agency officials have said were adequate for wind site reviews. “This is not a new phenomenon,” Wallace said, calling Steinberg’s research “a lot of anecdotal evidence not scientifically researched or written.”

After the meeting, he dismissed wind turbine syndrome as “a term coined by somebody to make a point.” If there was anything to the idea, Wallace suggested, it would have long been found by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the New England Journal of Medicine, among others. With the nearest Stetson resident about 6,100 feet from the closest of the new turbines, many of the issues discussed by wind power opponents were irrelevant, Brown said.

Each turbine is nearly 390 feet tall from its base to the highest tip of its blades. First Wind’s standards for its projects are also much more stringent than the DEP’s, said Matt Kearns, First Wind's vice president of development for New England. Stetson II would be rated to produce up to 25.5 megawatts of pollution-free energy at maximum capacity, although actual output will vary considerably depending on wind conditions. The project would be built on commercial timberlands owned by Lakeville Shores, which also owns the land on which the first Stetson project was built. First Wind has already purchased the 17 turbines and is storing them near the site.