Stetson Mountain, Maine,
In 2006 First Wind (formerly UPC Wind) sought to permit
and construct the first commercial-scale wind energy project
within the jurisdictional territory of Maine’s Land Use Regulation
Commission (LURC). First Wind’s goal was to site thirty-eight
1.5 megawatt wind turbine generators (GE 1.5SLE) along the
Stetson Mountain ridgeline in western Washington County, Maine.
As this was the first project in LURC territory, regulatory
scrutiny was particularly high. Furthermore, wind energy projects
were not an approved land use at that time, requiring the
project area to be rezoned prior to submitting a final development
First Wind contracted with Sewall to provide civil design
services for the Stetson Mountain Wind Project in fall 2006.
At that time, the wind power Production Tax Credit was to
expire at the end of 2008. The challenge was to design a project
that could be rezoned, permitted, construction and operation
before the end of 2008.
First Wind chose Sewall because of our previous wind project
experience, including working with Sargent Corporation on
the final construction plans for the Mars Hill Wind Project,
the first commercial-scale wind project constructed in Maine.
Sewall was also selected because of our previous experience
and understanding of time-critical development projects.
Sewall’s solution consisted of a nimble and iterative project
design approach that included weekly communication and collaboration
with First Wind and the project team of wetland scientists,
wildlife specialists, electrical engineers and soil scientists.
This iterative design process was vital to delivering a final
design product that minimized environmental resource impacts
and was acceptable to regulatory authorities. Sewall was responsible
for civil design services for the Stetson Mountain ridgeline,
including access roads, crane paths, and turbine clearings.
Sewall was also responsible for design of all stormwater best
management practices and erosion and sedimentation control
In July 2008, after just over seven months of construction,
construction crews from Reed & Reed, Inc., erected the
last of the 38 turbines at Stetson Mountain. The project began
operations in early December 2008, allowing First Wind to
benefit from the Production Tax Credit. This project is rated
to generate 57 megawatts of power annually, and is the largest
commercial-scale wind project in New England. The Stetson
Mountain wind turbines, along with the turbines at First Wind’s
Mars Hill wind farm, are expected to produce enough clean
energy to power approximately 43,500 homes. To generate the
same amount of electricity with fossil fuels would require
over 611,000 barrels of oil or 165,000 short tons of coal,
and would emit more than 200 metric tons of pollutants.