CLIFTON, Maine — The seven local owners of the $26 million Pisgah Mountain LLC wind farm have entered a partnership with a Canadian renewable energy company that helped purchase the five turbines to be installed on the mountain this year, developer Paul Fuller said Monday.
The deal was signed last week with SWEB Development USA. SWEB Development is a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based subsidiary of Austrian developer WEB Windenergie, which operates 203 wind power plants in five European nations and Canada and has a lot of experience with Vestas turbines, the type destined for Pisgah Mountain.
Fuller and his wife, Sandy, his brother-in-law Mike Smith, all of Bangor, Clifton residents John and Eileen Williams, and Gail and Wally Kimball of Veazie are the local Pisgah Mountain wind farm partners. They are listed under Pisgah Mountain Holdings LLC, the majority owner of the wind farm.
“Pisgah Mountain has not been sold,” Fuller said. “We own 51 percent of Pisgah Mountain LLC. We are still the major shareholders and the major owners.”
SWEB’s financing helped to ensure the order for five Vestas V90-1.8 MW wind turbines was in place before the Oct. 15 deadline required as part of the Public Utility Commission’s 20-year Community-based Renewable Energy contract between Pisgah and Emera Maine, Fuller said.
SWEB issued Pisgah Mountain Holdings a loan for its portion of the project, with payments to be made from yearly dividends for 20 years or until the loan is repaid, the agreement filed with the PUC states. Pisgah Mountain Holdings also gets an annual 4 percent royalty guarantee under the new partnership.
The new partnership in which SWEB owns 49 percent of the wind farm does not violate state or PUC rules, Fuller said.
A reorganized ownership agreement was filed on March 8 and still maintains the 51 percent Maine-owned requirement of the 2011 order, PUC spokesman Harry Lanphear said Monday.
The Emera contract pays 9.3 cents per kilowatt hour for the wind energy the farm provides to ISO-New England.
SWEB specializes in “community-scale wind energy development that maximizes local benefits in consultation with residents,” Stuart Lawrie, SWEB chief executive officer, said in a Monday press release about the partnership.
“We find it very exciting to announce this clean energy project on the heels of the historic accord that was reached in Washington this week to bring unprecedented cooperation on energy innovation and climate change policy between Canada and the U.S.,” Lawrie said, referring to a joint statement on climate, energy, and arctic leadership issued by President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on March 10. “That we can be part of the change that addresses the crisis in climate change inspires us to continue to work with communities to bring renewable energy online to support that progress.”
A lot of work has happened in the last year to extend and improve the roadway to the top of the mountain and to lay out the pads for the turbines, and the more visible part of the project is expected to start when the equipment arrives in mid-September.
“Local people are building it,” Fuller said, listing Cianbro Corp. as the general contractor, CES engineering of Brewer as the civil engineers and surveyors, RLC Engineering of Hallowell as the electrical engineers, and Gary Pomeroy Logging is clearing the land and working on the road.
“The commissioning date is Dec. 22, 2016,” he said.
The turbine equipment is so large that a huge crane, that itself takes 21-tractor trailers to move, is needed to install it, Fuller said, describing the 10-day installation plan as “a well-choreographed dance.”
Once the farm is operational, Clifton will receive an estimated $200,000 to $250,000 in annual property taxes, and a separate $45,000 annually through a host community agreement.
With Monday’s clear skies, Bull Hill Wind near Eastbrook in Township 16, where 19 turbines were erected in 2012, and a 14-turbine wind farm on Passadumkeag Mountain that went online in December, could be seen from the top of Pisgah Mountain.
“Through our test [meteorological] tower we know we have good wind at 7.9 meters per second,” Fuller said. “That’s really good wind to harvest.”