Maine Resort Adopts Wind and Solar Power
The historic Pittston Farm, which encompasses a farm, lodge, restaurant and campground in northern Maine, is installing two wind turbines and 60 solar panels to generate electricity.
The farm is located 200 miles north of Portland, Maine, and 10 miles from the Canadian border. It is accessible only by dirt roads which become restricted during winter. It is so far removed from civilization that is 20 miles away from the nation’s electric grid and has always generated its own electricity.
“The time was right for this important change to occur in our operations,” noted owners Bob and Jenny Mills, who maintained a blog to apprise the public on progress of the turbine installation. “With the current cost of diesel fuel close to $5 a gallon and probably going higher and an average amount of usage at 48 gallons a day, it was clear for us we needed to make changes!”
This new generation facility is composed of two 10-kilowatt wind generators located 100 feet in the air, 60 photovoltaic 2-foot by 4-foot solar panels, 80 Trojan batteries and four inverters. The components are integrated with existing diesel generators and automatically transfer from one phase of the system to another, providing the resort with an anticipated 35 kilowatts per hour of renewable energy.
“Our turbines aren’t……quite operating yet,” Jenny Mills told Woodall’s Campground Management today (Dec. 16). “The all-important inverters are being specially designed for this installation and are not quite completed. The same with our racks for our solar panels. But, hopefully everything will come together SOON. We are like kids in a candy store waiting for the a fresh piece of pulled taffy!!! We don’t yet have an exact date, however probably the wind will be up and operating by the first or second week in January (maybe sooner- it depends on the completion date of the invertors). And the solar very shortly after that, we hope!”
Facility Expected to be 75% to 85% ‘Green’
The resulting new energy system will be 75% to 85% “green.” There is new commercial refrigeration equipment, and the former kerosene heaters in the seven camping cabins have been replaced with LP gas and in some cases electric heating equipment.
This project was installed by BRJ Works Inc. from Winthrop, Maine. Machias Saving Bank, Bangor, Maine, is financing this $325,000 first-of-a-kind project and the loan is backed by the Small Business Administration.
“To look for alternate sources of energy was the responsible way to continue our operations,” the Millses continued. “As owners, we examined the two natural resources in our backyard, wind and solar, Mother Nature’s fuel. Our location at the confluence of the north and south branches of the Penobscot River and at the very west end of Seboomook Lake provides us with excellent wind conditions.”
There also is a backup diesel generator, which provided all the energy for telephone and satellite communications as well as important emergency outpost communications for police, fire and rescue.
The Pittston Farm is the only such facility in the 329,000-acre region known as Pittston Academy Grant Township, according to the Kennebec (Maine) Journal Morning Sentinel. It is a popular snowmobile destination, which also features camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, hiking and white water rafting.
The farm was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
By “going green” the farm also would eliminate emissions from the 48 gallons of diesel fuel it burns every day to keep in operation.
Historic Farm Dates from 1906
Great Northern Paper Co. purchased the entire township of Pittston Academy Grant, including Pittston Farm, in 1906. The paper company began building what is now the present farm in 1908 and completed the work by 1914.
There were three barns to hold 124 horses, a frost-proof vegetable house, a cannery, a slaughter house, an office, a water tower, a blacksmith shop, a boat house, a power house, a carriage house, a company storehouse – even a baseball field for workers and visitors.
By 1948, Pittston Farm’s days as a working farm had come to an end.
From 1973 to 1991, Great Northern allowed the Boy Scouts of America to use Pittston Farm for the summer months as the Seboomook base of their North Woods Adventure program, according to the farm’s website.
In March 1992, Pittston Farm was purchased by Ken and Sonja Twitchell and a long process of restoration began.
The new boarding house, office building, lower barn and the blacksmith shop have been restored. Pittston Farm is now home to an inn, restaurant, sporting camps and campground.
There are accommodations for 60 guests in the main lodge and three meals a day, including the all-you-can eat lumber jack style buffet, are served all year in the restaurant that seats 65.
“I will be putting in our website a section about our 24 RV site campground,” Jenny Mills told WCM. “It is a beautiful spot, at the confluence of two rivers and a lake, a so-real scene. If people like quietness without traffic and just time to reflect, this is the place.”