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Lack of support spells demise of Camden wind power effort

CAMDEN, Maine – Efforts to consider a wind project in town halted Tuesday night. After more than two months of soliciting applications for a wind committee to explore the possibility of bringing turbines to the top of Ragged Mountain, the town received a strong message that the project is unwanted.

At least seven of the eight applicants to the committee were opposed to generating wind energy on the mountain. After some discussion at a meeting Tuesday night, the town’s Select Board unanimously voted not to continue discussions of the project, and not to form a committee after all.

“I think what you are seeing – with only so-called anti-wind people who have applied – may be an indication of what is going on with this project,” said committee applicant Cindy Gagnon.

Select Board member John R. French Jr. made the motion to quit any further discussion about the wind project.

“It might be time to pull it, put it away, put our energies into some other projects,” he said Tuesday. “[Let’s] keep what we have for research, put it in a file. Maybe someday someone will want to talk about it, but at this time I just don’t see it going anywhere.”

French’s motion passed unanimously.

No one voiced support for a wind project on Ragged Mountain at the Tuesday night meeting.

At its Aug. 17 meeting, the Select Board chose to create the wind committee, whose task would be to gather comments from stakeholders and to conduct a feasibility study – which was projected to cost between $50,000 and $75,000. The Camden Energy Committee had asked the town to form this group. The board did not have any specifics for the project – such as the number of turbines or how large they might be – and was going to leave those choices for the committee to explore.

Almost all of the people who applied to be on the committee were affiliated with the grassroots anti-Camden-wind group Friends of Ragged Mountain, which formed in August.

Ken Gross was one applicant from Friends of Ragged Mountain. He said this decision was inevitable.

“In my opinion it was the conclusion we were going to arrive at whether it took two years or two months to arrive at,” he said Wednesday. “It was always a question of Camden coming to its own conclusion of moving forward or not, and I think Camden is fortunate that a decision was reached quite amicably and rationally, and I think it reached the right conclusion.”

The Ragged Mountain Wind Committee also would have included representatives from Hope and Rockport. Both towns were asked to appoint members, but neither town had chosen residents to join by the time Camden disbanded the group Tuesday.