HIGHLAND PLANTATION — A $250 million project to erect 48 wind turbines on four peaks in Somerset County was outlined at a meeting of about 30 people Thursday night.

Because Highland Plantation is considered an unorganized territory, Independence Wind principals Angus King and Robert Gardiner are expected to file an application for permits for their plan with Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission by early November.

The 120- to 130-megawatt turbines are proposed for Stewart and Witham mountains and Briggs and Burnt peaks. They would be lined up single-file and southeasterly along the high land. The area is east of the Bigelow Range and Carrabassett Valley in Franklin County.

In Roxbury, Independence Wind and business partner Wagner Forest Management Ltd. of Lyme, N.H., formed Record Hill Wind LLC to build 22 2.5-megawatt turbines atop Partridge Peak, Flathead Mountain and part of Record Hill. Construction on that $120 million project is under way.

“So, we’ve bitten off a lot and we’re chewing right now,” Gardiner said.

In Highland Plantation, King and Gardiner’s company partnered with Wagner to form Highland Plantation LLC.

Gardiner said he and King have been talking with Highland Plantation residents and officials about the project for 18 months.

The turbines would be installed during the summer of 2011 on Wagner land, Gardiner said Friday afternoon at his Cumberland Foreside home. Roadwork and foundation work for the turbines would be started next summer.

Due to the project’s proximity to the National Park Service’s Appalachian Trail, which crosses Roundtop Mountain (elevation 2,240 feet) to the north of Stewart Mountain (elevation 2,673 feet), Gardiner said they’ve also been talking with officials from the Maine Appalachian Trail Club.

The club maintains the national trail from the east side of Route 26 in Newry to the northern terminus atop Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park.

He said that only a few turbines will be visible from Bigelow’s Avery Peak, elevation 4,088 feet.

“You’ve really got to get up high to see this project,” Gardiner said, due to wooded terrain. “Most of the turbines are beyond the (NPS) eight-mile limit for visual impact.”

Appalachian Trail hikers heading west from Long Falls Dam Road and topping the first open ledges of Little Bigelow Mountain, which is 4½ miles from the nearest turbine planned for Stewart Mountain, will see a few turbines.

“But they will not have that big of a scenic distraction,” Gardiner said.

The closest camps located within a mile of the Highland project are owned by Greg Perkins and Dan Bell.

On Thursday, Gardiner said there was no opposition to the project, but Perkins, who attended Thursday night’s meeting, said by e-mail on Friday morning that he and two others are against it.

“Maybe two or three more on the fence, and the rest can’t wait for the development to take place in order to lower their taxes,” Perkins said.

He criticized Gardiner for not advising him or Bell about the meeting, but Gardiner said it wasn’t his place to do that.

Gardiner said Highland officials notified every voting resident by letter, but it isn’t clear if camp owners are considered voting residents, because Highland officials were not available Friday.

Issues discussed Thursday night included wind subsidies; jobs; threatened and endangered species such as the northern bog lemming, a salamander, Bicknell’s Thrush and the Roaring Brook mayfly; bald eagles; project financing; and tangible benefits like free electricity.

As with the Roxbury project, Gardiner said a possibility exists for jobs for area workers, but only for small chunks of money.

He said that of the four threatened or endangered species, the project won’t affect lemmings or salamanders because they live only in ridge bogs and those areas are being purposely avoided.

Gardiner said their survey found no Bicknell’s Thrushes atop the ridges, the mayfly is only in one stream that the access road crosses, and the closest eagles are about eight miles away.

Gardiner also said they can’t yet discuss financing until they get permits, but they are open to discussing possible tangible benefits.

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