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One Year of Operations at Mars Hill Wind

UPC Wind, an independent North American wind power company, today commemorated the first year of full commercial operations for Mars Hill Wind at a one-year anniversary event. In its first year of operation, the site has generated enough power for more than 19,000 New England homes. At the an event hosted by UPC Wind and the Maine Department of Conservation (DOC) at the Big Rock Ski Area in Mars Hill, Maine Governor John E. Baldacci spoke about the project and provided insight into the future development of wind power and other renewable energy in Maine.

"The State of Maine is in a position to benefit from clean wind power projects such as Mars Hill Wind, which is why I created the Wind Power Development Task Force last year," said Governor John E. Baldacci. "In addition to serving as a source for renewable energy, these projects help reduce Maine's dependence on imported fossil fuels, provide economic development, and promote security."

The event featured a number of state and community leaders, including Gov. Baldacci, DOC Commissioner Patrick McGowan, Mars Hill Town Manager Ray Mersereau, and Brent Boyles, president of Maine and Maritimes Corporation.

Since beginning commercial operations on March 27, 2007, Mars Hill Wind has generated more than 133,500,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean electricity and a corresponding number of Green-e certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). RECs are credits that individuals, institutions or businesses can buy to compensate for the amount of nonrenewable, greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels - such as coal, oil and natural gas - used in their vehicles, homes, offices or other facilities.

"As home to New England's first utility-scale wind project, the State of Maine has taken a leadership role in fostering the development of new sources of clean, wind energy," said Paul Gaynor, President and CEO of UPC Wind. "Due to the success of this project and thanks to the support of the Governor along with other state and community leaders, UPC Wind is pleased to continue to help grow the state's renewable energy portfolio, which will soon include our 57 megawatt Stetson Wind project in Washington County."

UPC Wind expects to begin operations of Stetson Wind by the end of 2008. It is currently under construction about 65 miles south of Mars Hill, near Danforth, Maine.

Highlights and benefits of the Mars Hill Wind site, based on its first full year of operations, include:

Operation Highlights
  • Since commencing commercial operations on March 27, 2007, the Mars Hill Wind Farm has generated over 133 million kilowatt hours (kWh).
  • The renewable power generated is sufficient to supply clean, renewable electricity to more than 19,000 New England homes.
Environmental Benefits
  • The clean energy produced by Mars Hill Wind is the equivalent of burning approximately more than 260,000 barrels of oil or 70,000 tons of coal per year, yet has none of the associated toxicity, health, or cost issues.
  • Based on data recently published by the U.S. EPA's Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (E-GRID), traditional New England fossil fuel generation sources producing an equivalent annual amount of electric energy would emit greenhouse gases (GHG) consisting of nearly 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • To put this in perspective, the amount of CO2 avoided is equivalent to the annual emissions of over 10,500 cars or over 7,500 SUVs.
  • In addition, equivalent energy production from traditional sources would produce approximately 158 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 65 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx). Both SO2 and NOx cause acid rain, which harms our lakes and rivers.
  • The Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail restored their trail along the length of Mars Hill Mountain in 2007 and made needed improvements to the hiker's shelter located on the south summit, supported in part by a donation from UPC Wind.
  • The Natural Resources Council of Maine hosted two well-attended field trips for their membership in 2007 that included a bus tour of the facility, a locally-catered luncheon with guest speakers, and visits with local residents.
Economic Investments and Benefits
  • After taking into account amounts spent during the development and construction of Mars Hill Wind, approximately $22 million has been spent with Maine-based businesses and organizations.
  • Local property tax bills have dropped approximately 20 percent due to the $500,000 a year in local taxes UPC Wind is paying to the Town of Mars Hill. In total, that is $10 million in tax payments paid to the Town over the next 20 years.
  • UPC Wind hires locally whenever possible and employed over 300 local residents during construction of Mars Hill Wind. In addition, 6 full time jobs have been created on site.
  • Local businesses such as Al's Diner, the Bear Paw Inn, convenience stores and garages have felt the benefits of the project as contractors and wind turbine technicians live, work and spend time in Mars Hill.
  • Snowmobilers are routing their trips through Mars Hill to see the wind turbines (County Crossroad Magazine, March 2008), which results in additional spending in town.
Sound Measurements and Evaluation
  • UPC Wind recently filed its third quarterly Sound Level Study with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The study, conducted by technical consultant Resource Systems Engineering, includes comprehensive, detailed sound measurements and analysis of both existing ambient conditions and wind farm operations. The findings were benchmarked against the 2003 sound level estimates relied upon by the DEP in issuing the Mars Hill Wind site location permit.
  • As was the case with the previous two reports, the third Sound Level Study confirmed that both ambient sound levels and sound levels from wind farm operations are generally consistent with the findings of the DEP in its original order approving the construction of the wind farm. UPC Wind continues to closely monitor sound levels at the site.
"By taking advantage of this renewable natural resource, along with other alternative energy technologies, Maine can show the way toward energy independence," said Commissioner Patrick McGowan of the Maine Department of Conservation. "The clean energy produced here at Mars Hill has reduced the nation's greenhouse gas production by nearly 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of the annual emissions from 10,500 cars. Along with this abundance of wind, Maine is the nation's most heavily-forested state. In these days of nearly $4 per gallon heating oil, wood pellet stoves and furnaces are already saving money for Maine homeowners. We are committed to helping the private sector develop these emerging technologies and markets."

In addition to increasing domestic energy production and increasing energy security, wind power is considered cost competitive with conventional sources of electricity, such as oil or gas. Unlike traditional polluting sources of energy, wind has no fuel cost, therefore serving as a natural hedge against volatile fuel prices, which constitutes a significant portion of monthly electricity bills in most markets in the United States. Wind power also emits no greenhouse gases or other damaging pollutants.

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