BACKGROUND

The Swan’s Island Electric Cooperative (SIEC), facing high and volatile electricity rates and aware of the robust wind resource on Swan’s Island, set out in 2006 to evaluate the potential for a community-owned wind power project to reduce energy costs.  In 2011, SIEC – in partnership with the Island Institute and with the support of a grant from Efficiency Maine – began a “Phase I” initial feasibility study focused on the potential for the installation of a 1.5 MW wind turbine on Big Mountain, the second highest terrain on Swan’s Island.  The study sought to determine whether or not a project would be feasible from technical, logistical, and environmental permitting perspectives, and was designed to identify possible benefits and challenges that may emerge from a project.  The study was limited in scope, therefore additional technical work and research will be required should SIEC members choose to proceed with the project.

The initial feasibility study was completed in March 2012 and results were shared with SIEC board members and Swan’s Island and Frenchboro residents throughout spring 2012.  Additional presentations on study findings will take place in July 2012.  In light of the recent decrease in electricity prices related to the low price of natural gas, as well as current SIEC efforts to restructure its management and policies, the SIEC Board of Directors has decided to table a decision on the project for the time being.  As the SIEC Board and staff continue to make progress with their restructuring efforts and track changes in the mainland electricity market, the SIEC Board will consider if the project should be brought to a vote of the Cooperative’s membership. 

Should a vote occur and result in a significant amount of support for moving forward with a project, additional funds would be required to perform “Phase II” technical studies at the level required for permitting and micrositing due to the fact that the Phase I initial feasibility study was not intended to be all-encompassing.

FINDINGS

The Phase I study found that a wind project on Swan’s Island would be technically, logistically and environmentally feasible. The project also has the potential to generate significant savings for members of the Cooperative if federal and state incentives are available to reduce the upfront costs to SIEC. The findings of each portion of the study are summarized by clicking on the links to the left.


For more information on the Community Wind Feasibility study, contact Swan's Island Electric Cooperative Board Member: Ed Schwabe (526-4053 - edschwabe@hotmail.com)
or Island Institute's Communnity Energy Director: Suzanne MacDonald (594-9209 ext. 144 - smacdonald@islandinstitute.org).


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