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Turbine ordinance rebutted

In a recent letter to the editor, local U.S. Wind Force attorney Jamie Walsh insisted that proposed amendments to the Allegany County zoning code would restrict industrial wind energy facilities too much. "The ordinance would prevent any wind projects in Allegany County," Walsh wrote.

CUMBERLAND - In a recent letter to the editor, local U.S. Wind Force attorney Jamie Walsh insisted that proposed amendments to the Allegany County zoning code would restrict industrial wind energy facilities too much.

"The ordinance would prevent any wind projects in Allegany County," Walsh wrote.

This week, wind energy advocates were asked by the Times-News to support that statement. An e-mail from wind energy spokesman Frank Maisano repeated that the implementation of the proposed regulations would prohibit the planned, and any future, local industrial wind projects. David Friend, U.S. Wind Force vice president of sales and marketing, was copied on the e-mail.

"It is clear the ordinance would prevent any wind projects in Allegany County and, further, that it was specifically designed to prevent the Dan's Mountain project from moving forward," Maisano said in the opening of his letter.

"Otherwise, the rule would have been applied only to future projects rather than retroactively," he said.

"With the proposed ordinance in place, can we find any site in Allegany County that would allow for the construction of a utility-scale wind farm? Probably not, even if you could find an appropriate site... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CUMBERLAND - In a recent letter to the editor, local U.S. Wind Force attorney Jamie Walsh insisted that proposed amendments to the Allegany County zoning code would restrict industrial wind energy facilities too much.

"The ordinance would prevent any wind projects in Allegany County," Walsh wrote.

This week, wind energy advocates were asked by the Times-News to support that statement. An e-mail from wind energy spokesman Frank Maisano repeated that the implementation of the proposed regulations would prohibit the planned, and any future, local industrial wind projects. David Friend, U.S. Wind Force vice president of sales and marketing, was copied on the e-mail.

"It is clear the ordinance would prevent any wind projects in Allegany County and, further, that it was specifically designed to prevent the Dan's Mountain project from moving forward," Maisano said in the opening of his letter.

"Otherwise, the rule would have been applied only to future projects rather than retroactively," he said.

"With the proposed ordinance in place, can we find any site in Allegany County that would allow for the construction of a utility-scale wind farm? Probably not, even if you could find an appropriate site that would meet the wind requirements, transmission needs and siting ordinance restrictions (environmental and otherwise), the subjective and evolutionary nature of the current proposal make it subject to interpretation and dramatically increases the potential for delay and litigation and would never receive funding from any financial institution."

Maisano said U.S. Wind Force has reviewed how the proposed amendments, which include setbacks, decommissioning requirements, noise restrictions and other limitations, would affect the project.

"If enacted, they will kill the project," Maisano said of the 25 to 29 turbines planned along the Dan's Mountain ridge line.

Specifically, three requirements would each make the Dan's Mountain project uneconomical by lowering the number of turbines permitted:

  • The 1,000-foot setback to the habitat of endangered species.
  • The 1,000-foot setback from any structure.
  • The 2,000-foot setback from residential structures.

Maisano said U.S. Wind Force questioned the decommissioning cost - estimated at $150,000 by the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission. He said the state Public Service Commission's exemption from the Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience, which allows the 69.7-megawatt facility to be constructed without full regulatory review, includes a decommissioning bond as a condition.

Those opposed to the wind turbine project spoke during last week's public hearing, and have commented since, that a handful of homeowners who live near the project might have their homes purchased by the wind company. Maisano said there are no plans to do so.

"While we are not aware of any technical or safety concerns related to our project," Maisano said, "we have worked closely with the county for years on these issues, providing the necessary research and analysis and have worked to resolve any potential issues - like the communications towers - through a deliberate process, rather than an 11th-hour retroactive onerous ordinance."

The PSC exemption includes provisions for protection of people, wildlife, habitat and communications systems, Maisano said. In addition, the wind company spent nearly $2 million conducting "numerous environmental and technical studies" that would have been required under the full regulatory review.


Source: http://www.times-news.com/l...

MAR 28 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19614-turbine-ordinance-rebutted
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