Penobscot Tribe - 2012 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Penobscot Tribe
Location: Old Town, ME
Project Title: Alder Stream Wind Project
Type of Application: Development
DOE Grant Number: EE0005636
Project Amounts:
DOE: $1,000,000
Awardee: $1,614,568
Total: $2,614,568
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2012
End: August 2015

Summary

With this award, the Penobscot Indian Nation will advance the preconstruction activities required to secure funding for the proposed 227-megawatt (MW) Alder Stream wind project. The grant will fund activities such as site layout, identification of power purchasers, environmental studies, advancement of state and tribal permitting requirements, preparation of transmission and interconnection studies, and negotiation of an interconnection agreement required to deliver energy to a specific set of potential purchasers.

Project Description

Background

The Penobscot Indian Nation (PIN) is a federally recognized Tribe of 2,381 members, with its home reservation located on Indian Island in the center of the Greater Bangor Metropolitan Statistical Area. Since 2005, the Nation has actively been pursuing wind development on Penobscot tribal lands through Penobscot Indian Nation Enterprises (PINE).

PINE was created by the Tribal Council specifically to separate business efforts from tribal governance, and is now responsible for the development and management of all tribal business enterprises under authority delegated by the council—including a variety of government contracting, construction, health support services, and energy efforts. PINE operates under a Federal Charter of Incorporation approved in 2005 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs under Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

In 2003, the Tribe erected a 50-meter meteorological tower in Alder Stream Township, which collected data until 2005. These initial efforts yielded data that clearly supported a more in-depth evaluation of the wind resources on the Alder Stream tribal lands.

In 2007, acting on behalf of the Penobscot Nation, PINE entered into a Letter of Intent with a wind developer to continue wind development efforts for the Penobscot Indian Nation. PINE and the wind developer signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2008 to further this joint endeavor. The wind developer subsequently erected two met towers at Alder Stream to collect additional meteorological data, which indicates that the wind class is in the superior range at the standard hub height of 80 meters.

In addition, initial environmental site assessment surveys, including a Nocturnal Radar Survey, a Bat Survey, Breeding Bird Surveys, and a Diurnal Raptor Survey, were conducted for the purposes of planning for the proposed project in the spring and summer of 2009. In general, the species detected in the project area are common and relatively abundant in the region, and although several state special concern species were observed, no state or federally threatened or endangered species were detected. The Bicknell's Thrush, a species of special concern in the state, was observed frequently on the summit of Snow Mountain, but not in any other portion of the project area.

In 2010, PINE and the wind developer jointly formed Alder Stream Wind LLC (ASW) to collaboratively develop, construct, finance, and own a proposed wind farm at Alder Stream Township—should such a project be economically feasible.

In 2011, ASW formed a joint venture with an independent wind and transmission company. ASW and the independent wind and transmission company jointly own a new project company, Alder Stream Renewables LLC (ASR) for the project's development.

ASR has erected four additional meteorological test towers within Alder Stream Township to better characterize the wind resource at the site. Additionally, ASR has conducted third-party transmission studies, filed an interconnection request with ISO New England for 236.71 MW (Queue Position 383), and initiated an ISO New England feasibility study.

Project Objectives

The Tribe's overall objectives for the wind farm project are to (1) develop a self-sustainable business that will foster jobs and create economic development benefits for the Tribe and its members with minimal economic risk and (2) to build internal capacity, which will support the ability of the Nation to develop its renewable energy potential. The capabilities developed by the Tribe during the course of this project's implementation will assist it in pursuing additional wind energy projects on other tribal land in Maine. Thus, the project is perfectly consistent with the tribal energy vision articulated in the 2006 Long Term Strategic Energy Plan developed by the Nation with DOE funding:

"The Energy Vision of the Penobscot Indian Nation is to maximize the efficiency of energy usage and develop energy resources in ways that will sustain current and future generations by addressing the economic, environmental, and social issues of energy within the context of Penobscot Indian Nation culture, traditions and established tribal policies for the wise use of our forest, water, and wind resources." (p. 9)

The defined goals of the DOE-funded preconstruction activities are to:

  • Complete interconnection and transmission studies and agreements
  • Complete site layout and engineering
  • Complete environmental studies, including avian and bat studies; wildlife surveys and reports; archeological studies; visual simulations; noise studies; Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) studies; cultural, historical and ethnographic studies; socioeconomic studies; and other studies required for permitting
  • Complete permitting and approvals
  • Complete construction cost estimates and economic analyses
  • Build and maintain community support for wind development
  • Negotiate toward a power purchase agreement
  • Advance financing negotiations.

Project Scope

The preconstruction activities funded by DOE under this agreement will be a collaborative effort with a number of participants. The Penobscot Nation, as grantee, will manage the legal and administrative aspects of the project through PINE, which will oversee contractual relationships related to the grant and provide the business and technical contacts for the project. ASR will undertake and oversee much of the technical work and manage project operations.

PINE's project coordinator with the principals from ASR will: (a) direct the activities of tribal subject matter consultants (including staff from the PIN Natural Resources Department and other tribal entities); (b) identify and assess individuals from within the Tribe who might be interested in being trained in wind energy production and marketing; and (c) brief the PINE Board of Directors and the Tribal Chief and Council on project implementation.

The project roles and functions of PINE and their development partners have been spelled out in the Joint Development Agreement executed by the parties in November 2011 and include the following:

Alder Stream Wind, LLC (ASW)—Roles and Functions
On behalf of and at the request of ASR, ASW will perform the following activities:

  • Assist with project development tasks as requested by ASR
  • Apply for and obtain necessary tribal permits
  • Negotiate other arrangements with the Nation, including tax and business and labor preference arrangements as needed
  • Assist in community outreach programs for the project
  • Monitor obstacles that may arise within the Nation or the local community and develop of strategies to address such obstacles
  • Manage all tribal employment provisions and tribal notice requirements
  • Provide any other assistance requested by ASR in connection with development of the project.

Alder Stream Renewables LLC (ASR)—Roles and Functions

  • Manage the project's development
  • Lead negotiation of all the project contracts and financing agreements
  • Prepare regulatory filings, other project documentation, and project scheduling
  • Determine the locations for the wind turbines, the project substation, and any transmission line or other interconnection facilities
  • Transmission interconnection study and engineering
  • Complete all required studies for the project, including environmental assessments, geotechnical investigations, communication and radar interference studies, environmental surveys, cultural resource and assessments, noise and visibility studies, and shadow flicker analysis
  • Apply for and obtain required local, state, and federal permits
  • Obtain all interconnection (feasibility, system impact, facilities, and other) studies and an interconnection agreement under which the project will interconnect with the grid
  • Develop and implement a public outreach campaign, including communication with local, state, federal officials, other relevant organizations, advocates, and mediators
  • Conduct preconstruction engineering surveys (geotechnical, land surveying, civil design, wetland mitigation)
  • Complete transmission arrangements, power marketing, and related contracting, and negotiate project financing arrangements, including negotiations with project lenders and additional equity investors.

PINE will manage and monitor financial transactions associated with the DOE grant for the project. PINE will be responsible for all accounts payable functions involving grant funds, as well as all financial reporting for the grant.

The predevelopment tasks under this agreement are critical and will be completed in parallel, to the extent possible, in order to move the Alder Stream Project forward. The grant will cover only a specific subset of preconstruction development activities, as follows:

  • Community Outreach:
    • Hire a public relations firm to reach out to state-level environmental, governmental, and business groups.
    • Conduct community education and outreach meetings with nearby cabin owners.
  • Site Layout and Engineering
    • Preliminary site layout design has been developed and modeled, but as siting work progresses, site layout will reflect any constraints or new siting opportunities that emerge.
    • Undertake the following activities:
      • Wind turbine micro-siting (field verification that each site is constructible and located optimally in relation to local homes, terrain, vegetation, obstructions, and land use)
      • Conceptual design of the access roads and collection system
      • Conceptual design of the substation
      • Initial geotechnical investigation of the soil conditions on-site.
  • Environmental Reviews:
    • Complete the following studies, for fulfillment of federal, state, and tribal permitting requirements:
      • Critical Habitat Survey, including a focus on the Bicknell's Thrush and Canada lynx
      • Effect on National Parks or National Historic Sites
      • Identification of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, including rare plants and sensitive habitats
      • Avian and Bat Follow-up Surveys based on the results of the 2009 field study
      • Soil Resources – Geotechnical Study
      • Wetland Delineations and Storm Water Analysis
      • Wildlife Survey: for Endangered Species Act (ESA) clearances or permits; and any other wildlife effects and mitigation strategy identification
      • Cultural, Historical, and Ethnographic Resources Study: for National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) clearances and permits as needed
      • Socioeconomic Conditions and Impacts: for fulfillment of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Categorical Exclusion (CX), Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review requirements as needed
      • Noise and Light Impacts, and Shadow Flicker Analysis, for fulfillment of federal, state, and tribal permitting requirements
      • Visual Impacts: for fulfillment of federal, state and tribal permitting requirements
  • Project Permitting Activities:
    • Apply for and obtain all required federal, state, and tribal permits.
  • Interconnection/Transmission:
    • Complete a Large Generator System Impact Study and a Large Generator Facilities Study with ISO New England.
    • Execute a Large Generator Interconnection Agreement with ISO New England.

Project Location

The Penobscot Indian Nation (PIN) is a Federally recognized sovereign Tribe of 2,381 members, with its home reservation located on Indian Island in the center of the surrounding non-Indian community of Old Town, Maine (part of the Greater Bangor Metropolitan Statistical Area). The reservation also includes some 200+ islands in the Penobscot River, north of Indian Island, and the tribe owns 125,000 acres of trust and fee land throughout Maine.

The Tribe has explored the potential for a wind project on the Tribe's Alder Stream trust lands in Franklin County, just northwest of the renowned ski areas at Sugarloaf Mountain in western Maine. Specifically, the area of interest is located in Alder Stream, Chain of Ponds, and Tim Pond Townships in Franklin County near the town of Eustis. The topography consists of undeveloped mountains and forestland traditionally used for timber harvesting, and a series of small ponds and streams with a few scattered camps and cabins. The majority of Alder Stream Township is held in trust for the Penobscot Indian Nation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (U.S. Department of the Interior). The site is located adjacent to TransCanada's 132-MW Kibby Wind Power Project, and to their recently permitted 33-MW Kibby Expansion Project.

Project Status

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 2011 funding opportunity announcement "Renewable Energy Development and Deployment in Indian Country" (DE-FOA-0000422) and started in September 2012.

For current project status or additional information, please contact the project contact.

Project Contact

Mile Francis, Chief Executive Officer
Penobscot Indian Nation Enterprises
12 Wabanaki Way
Indian Island, ME 04468
207-827-7750
Mef11oakhill@aol.com

Eric Nicolar, Energy Specialist and Contracts Manager
Penobscot Indian Nation Enterprises
12 Wabanaki Way
Indian Island, ME 04468
207-817-6045
enicolar@pine-online.com