Aug 3, 2010

Plans for a Ragged Mountain turbine complex twist slowly in the wind

I went to the August 2nd meeting of the Camden Energy Committee. The windmill supporters are troubled. Listen to hourlong  podcast of meeting here. ...

If it is to be community wind, the residents of Rockport, Hope and Camden must cough up many tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to even get out the starting gate of preliminary feasibility study and public outreach.

Not one of the three towns Camden, Rockport, Hope, have shown any interest in providing that $$$$.

Ragged Mtn on left, Bald Mtn on right, from Vinalhaven ferry.
If it's a private wind farm developer, (and such HAVE been contacting Camden officials)  then large amounts of public land owned by Camden have to be leased or sold to the private developer as well as more public land denuded for access. Private landowners in Hope will have to be convinced to allow access roads to be run through their land. Else no reasonable access to the proposed site.   

And then, who benefits? The investor will have to be content with the much lesser profits accruing to the business from "Community Wind" development.  The alternative is a private windfarm, owned by an absentee corporation which will sell extracted windpower to the New England grid, while in addition to some cash, Camdenites get to listen to the throaty howl of windturbines  forever in their audio background... 

Something the people of the area, who appreciate the value of natural Maine, are highly unlikely to accept.

Here are some excerpts from that hour long meeting:

"We're trying to tap the public will," Committee chair Des Fitzgerald said "to see if there's a way to figure out if people out there are willing to give money toward this early assessment [of ragged mountain for wind energy extraction]. We're trying to figure out that structure that poses that question."

Town official: "The rub is mixing community wind with finding a private developer. We have lots of interested developers, until you put the coin to community wind."

Richard Podolsky: Environmental Consultant  (scratching his forehead in exasperation in photo) "There is a pot of money out there. Most of the Massachusetts Community Wind RFPS camefrom the renewable energy trust administered by Mass Tech.  It is a collaborative can flow anywhere in New England. They draw on large sum of funds collected from ratepayers. Most community wind feasibility projects I have worked on been funded by MTC fund. "

Severals others objected that this fund has already been used several times in Maine. They said that well is dried up.

Podolsky shrugged: "That's one pot. There may be others."

It was pointed out that stimulus funds in Maine are not specific to wind.  Through Efficiency Maine, they are.   
"The Maine energy trust requires matching funds; you can't play unless until you bring your check first."

Something none of the three towns wants to do.

Q: "Is it the will of the Energy committee  they want to continue exploring feasibility?" [Of a Ragged Mountain windfarm]

Response 1: "No!"
Response 2. What we (Camden Energy Committee] would really like to do, is we would like make some suggestions for next steps [to the Camden Selectboard] and then stand back and watch it happen. We feel like we've done our job."

The Camden Energy Committee after all has other issues on its plate: It is also looking at a plan for a water turbine in the stream that runs through their downtown. And other energy initiatives.)

Des Fitzgerald: Its got to be formal; either its an RFP and you let the market place respond to it, or put out a press release to the community have an open meeting, let people come and shake it out.

On the topic of whether this should be a private "community group"  instead of a municipal one, the consensus was said by one person:
"There's wisdom in having a municipal relationship to whatever this is." 

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