Wind power developer to propose annexation for Redington

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CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Selectmen say that they have been approached by a private company about the possibility of annexing a part of Redington Township for the purposes of developing a wind power project.

Endless Energy Corporation, of Yarmouth, spent millions of dollars and nearly two decades developing a $130 million wind farm project in the Redington Township. The project originally featured 30 turbines along the Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble mountains, providing more than 90 kilowatts of energy.

However, despite a Land Use Regulation Commission staff recommendation in favor of the project, the LURC committee came down against Endless Energy and its president, Harley Lee in February 2007. They ordered the staff draft a new recommendation opposing the rezoning of Redington wind power project area.

Lee then altered his proposal, instead asking LURC to consider a 18-turbine project on Black Nubble only. That proposal also included a conservation plan for the Redington Pond Range, which was generally considered more environmentally-sensitive than Black Nubble, due to its lower elevation, reduced visibility, and distance from the Appalachian Trail.

LURC eventually killed this proposal as well, at a meeting held in January 2008. At that time, Lee said that he saw potential in the soon-to-be released findings of the governor’s Wind Power Task Force. However, that report did not include Black Nubble within its “expedited review” area. Projects developed within an expedited review area would face less consideration for their scenic impact, a major stumbling block for Lee’s project with the LURC committee.

An annexation of the project area by Carrabassett Valley could breath new life into the project. LURC’s decision would have no legal bearing on the project if it were being considered by Carrabassett Valley’s elected officials.

Redington Pond Range is very close to the Carrabassett Valley municipal line, roughly four miles from Sugarloaf Mountain. Black Nubble is less than three miles from the town line.

Annexation would require the approval of the state Legislature prior to approval from residents, probably at a town meeting of some kind.

Selectmen have said in a prepared statement that they expect to see a conceptual plan from Endless Energy Inc. sometime soon.

“It is anticipated that Endless Energy will present a concept plan of potential benefits to the Selectmen (December ’08 or early January ’09),” the announcement reads, “that may provide substantial energy (power) cost savings to Sugarloaf and Sunday River ski resorts as well as to town and area rate payers. The project may also include substantial property tax reductions for Carrabassett Valley taxpayers and may include other area benefits.”

The announcement also stressed that no recommendations were being made by the town.

“The Board of Selectmen is not making recommendations regarding the merits or faults of this proposal at this time,” according to the statement. “However, the board feels that due to the potential benefits to the community and surrounding area that this proposal should be brought before the citizens of the town (and surrounding communities) for further discussion.”

Endless Energy intends to submit a plan to selectmen and eventually begin meeting with people in the community prior to holding informational meetings.

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