CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Which is more detrimental to Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain and their ecosystems – the installation of 30 wind turbines, access roads and a substation, or global warming, acid rain and fossil fuel emissions if projects like these do not move forward?

On Thursday, the Land Use Regulation Commission again listened to testimony regarding the proposed Redington Wind Farm. Former Gov. Angus King was among those who turned out Thursday night for a public comment period in the King Pine Room at Sugarloaf.

“I have hiked in these mountains, and I value the views and unspoiled nature,” he said. But he also is concerned about the “environmental impact of our excessive and obstinate use of fossil fuels,” he added.

“When I see the wind turbines from the top of this mountain, I will say, ‘We – the state of Maine – are doing something real to deal with one of the (serious) issues in Maine.”

He called the project a “particularized burden and a generalized benefit.”

“It’s the equivalent of taking 25,000 automobiles off the road and will produce 260 million kilowatt hours a year,” King said. “There are impacts with any energy project. There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Fred Huntress of Poland Spring suggested that biomass energy is a better alternative energy source than the proposed wind power project.

“The forest is renewable, the mountains are not,” he said. The Redington Wind Farm would “destroy the mountains you have been charged with protecting.”

He has 50 years of forest management experience and said he has seen the negative impact of building mountain roads on a slope. “Erosion and sedimentation would be inevitable.”

He called the mountain ridges a “fragile area.” The question in front of LURC is whether or not to rezone a 1,000-acre parcel of land from mountain area protection subdistrict to planned development subdistrict.

“There’s a reason why you placed it in a protective zone,” Huntress said.

“It would be difficult to find a worst place to site such a project,” said Tom Mauzaka of Strong, adding that it would pose a “severe unnecessary threat to this area.”

Tony Barrett of Harpswell also opposes the project, although not wind power. He asked why they had to be placed on Redington and Black Nubble.

“I have hiked ridge lines that have fire towers and cell phone towers and ski lifts, but that doesn’t bother me because they are already developed,” he said. “Redington Pond Range is one of the last few places in the eastern United States that you don’t see development.”

Dave Cota of Carrabassett Valley is an avid hiker who supports the Redington Wind Farm. He has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. “I cherish the mountains of Maine, but if we can’t have increased hydropower, and nuclear power is no longer an option, then we need something,” he said.

He does not believe the wind towers would have an adverse affect on tourism and feels the opposite is probably true. And he said he believes that over time people, even those opposing the project now, will come to accept the turbines.

Kingfield resident Jack McKee said he wants the Redington Wind Farm for the sake of his six great-grandchildren.

“We’re being held hostage by OPEC,” he said of the oil cartel. “The oil is going to run out, and that will be the best scenario. Hopefully, we’ll have time to find a solution.”

Thursday was the end of the period for public comment at the hearing. Testimony and cross-examination by the applicants and intervenors will continue today.

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