Maine Wind Power Nets $102M Loan Backing

Maine is on course to get new wind-power production after the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) finalized a $102 million loan guarantee for the Record Hill Wind project. Under the loan program, the federal government would be held liable should the developers be unable to meet their loan obligations.

The loan guarantee will help build a 50.6-megawatt (MW) capacity wind-power plant, an eight-mile transmission line and associated interconnection equipment near the town of Roxbury in Oxford County, the DOE said. An investment by the Yale University Endowment is also supporting the project, which the DOE said will likely yield about 200 construction jobs.

Record Hill Wind power plant, Maine

image via Record Hill Wind

According to the DOE’s announcement, Record Hill will comprise 22 turbines and the infrastructure needed to hook it into local utility Central Maine Power. The DOE noted an innovative technology, called turbine load control (TLC), will be used on the project. This is described as “a system of sensors and processing software that allows the turbines to continue to generate electricity under turbulent conditions, rather than be shut down completely.” The department added that TLC “is also expected to reduce wear-and-tear on the turbines, reduce operation and management costs, and preserve the lifetime of the turbine components.”

The Record Hill guarantee falls under the federal Section 1705 program that will disappear at the conclusion of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30. These loan guarantees have been especially attractive to developers because the government allocated about $2.5 billion to cover the credit subsidy costs for the loans. These fees – amounting to about 10 percent of each loan’s value – are pooled together to cover the government’s losses in the event a small portion of the loans go belly-up.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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