Suggesting that the Camden Select Board form a committee with the towns of Hope and Rockport, the Camden Energy Committee has decided to refer the issue of a possible wind-powered electrical generator on Ragged Mountain to the municipal authority that created it.

The consensus came at a meeting on Aug. 2 after a lengthy discussion of a possible nongovernmental board to pursue public support and funding needed to gather additional data and determine a final form for such a project.

Committee seeks to implement Baker’s suggestions

At the June 18 Select Board meeting the Island Institute’s Maine Coast Community Wind Program Director, George Baker, proposed a three-phase project that would begin with a feasibility study costing between $50,000 and $70,000. This first phase would analyze the technical, logistical, economic and environmental aspects of installing wind turbines on Ragged Mountain.

The second phase of a Ragged Mountain project, according to Baker, would be securing permitting and financing. He said this project development phase would cost between $300,000 and $500,000.

“If you get through that, you go into construction,” he said. That would be the third and final phase, and the cost would depend on the extent of the final plan.

Baker said the community had four options for distributing the electricity generated by a local wind farm.

The first option, and the one Baker said was his favorite, was a competitive electricity contract with an established provider such as the Constellation Energy Group.

Baker said the other options were working through Maine’s Community-based Renewable Energy Act, forming a community supply group, and setting up a net metering program.

Hope and Rockport may be brought into discussion

Members of the Camden Energy Committee did not reach a consensus on the available choices for a Ragged Mountain wind project at their Aug. 2 meeting.

Saying he was concerned about the length of time that a municipal governing board would take to accomplish the necessary tasks, Chairman Des FitzGerald strongly advocated for a nongovernmental board to begin raising funds for the next phase of the project. As an example, FitzGerald mentioned the board that governs the Mid-coast Solid Waste Corporation.

He said such a board would evaluate public interest in the project and meet with abutters to see if there was resistance to a wind farm on Ragged Mountain.

Camden Town Manager Roberta Smith and her counterpart from Rockport, Robert Peabody, said that any committee appointed by a select board would be a municipal committee.

Committee members Leonard Lookner and Rick Knowlton both said the Select Board had charged the Camden Energy Committee with making a recommendation. Lookner said it was time to do that and take the Ragged Mountain project out of the committee’s purview.

“We want to push this out into the community,” FitzGerald said. “We’re almost done with our job.” He said it was necessary to determine if there was public will to move forward with a project.

Knowlton proposed a nine-member panel with four representatives from Camden, three from Rockport and two from Hope. He said those numbers roughly reflected the relative populations of the towns and their ownership stake in the land atop Ragged Mountain where a wind farm might be located.

Lookner asked that the committee’s recommendation to the Select Board include a request that the permanent development director, expected to be hired this fall, be asked to consider the wind farm as an economic development project.

Smith offered to draft a recommendation that the committee will review at a meeting to be scheduled later this month. If approved by the Energy Committee, that recommendation would be forwarded to the Select Board.

For more information, contact the Camden Town Office at 236-3353.

The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at sauciello@villagesoup.com.


 

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