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United States

MAINE GO AHEAD

Final approval has been for an energy initiative in New England which includes a Kenetech Windpower project in Maine. The aim of the entire project is to test renewables for cost, public acceptance, growth potential, commercial feasibility and reliability while reducing air pollution.

An energy initiative in New England -- including what will be the largest US wind plant east of the Mississippi -- has won final approval. A request for proposals, the "green RFP," by the New England Electric System (NEES) includes a plan to buy power from a 20 MW Kenetech Windpower project in Maine. The entire plan, which calls for 36 MW in renewables, is to test renewables for cost, public acceptance, growth potential, commercial feasibility and reliability while reducing air pollution.

On December 20, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the plan by NEES, parent of local utility Narragansett Electric Co. A similar proposal had been rejected last May because regulators objected to customers having to pay 25 cents extra annually for renewables. The Rhode island utility also had to guarantee that consumers would not have to pick up the bill if, in the future, deregulation means that the six plants chosen, including the wind farm, are more costly than other sources.

Michael Hachey of New England Electric had told commissioners before the hearing that Kenetech and the other companies had re-negotiated the price they would charge Narragansett customers. He also said the wind project, which needs final permits in Maine, had been on hold since May, although regulators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire had approved it.

Kenetech's Bud Grebey says the 20 MW is the first phase of a much larger wind farm in the Boundary Mountains.. The firm is seeking permits for 200 MW.

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