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PSC considers western Md. wind power proposal

Homeowners who live near the site of proposed Western Maryland wind farm brought their case before utility regulators Wednesday, saying the impact on their safety has not been adequately considered. ''This commission is our last and only hope our government will protect us,'' said homeowner Victor Fickes. Synergics Wind Energy wants to build a 50-megawatt wind energy farm atop Backbone Mountain near Oakland in Garrett County.

BALTIMORE -- Homeowners who live near the site of proposed Western Maryland wind farm brought their case before utility regulators Wednesday, saying the impact on their safety has not been adequately considered.

''This commission is our last and only hope our government will protect us,'' said homeowner Victor Fickes.

Synergics Wind Energy wants to build a 50-megawatt wind energy farm atop Backbone Mountain near Oakland in Garrett County.

Fickes said he was not entirely opposed to the project, but wanted turbines at least 2,600 feet from any homes, which would mean three fewer turbines for the proposal that calls for up to 20 turbines. Fickes said turbine failures on other wind farms have thrown debris far enough to reach nearby homes under the Garrett County project.

A company attorney told the commissioners the closest any turbine would be to a home was 1,175 feet.

''We don't think there is any evidence of a safety problem,'' said attorney Deborah Jennings.

However, Fickes accused the company of misrepresenting the impact of the wind farm. He also noted Synergics' president Wayne Rogers is a former Democratic Party official and that Synergics was seeking approval... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BALTIMORE -- Homeowners who live near the site of proposed Western Maryland wind farm brought their case before utility regulators Wednesday, saying the impact on their safety has not been adequately considered.

''This commission is our last and only hope our government will protect us,'' said homeowner Victor Fickes.

Synergics Wind Energy wants to build a 50-megawatt wind energy farm atop Backbone Mountain near Oakland in Garrett County.

Fickes said he was not entirely opposed to the project, but wanted turbines at least 2,600 feet from any homes, which would mean three fewer turbines for the proposal that calls for up to 20 turbines. Fickes said turbine failures on other wind farms have thrown debris far enough to reach nearby homes under the Garrett County project.

A company attorney told the commissioners the closest any turbine would be to a home was 1,175 feet.

''We don't think there is any evidence of a safety problem,'' said attorney Deborah Jennings.

However, Fickes accused the company of misrepresenting the impact of the wind farm. He also noted Synergics' president Wayne Rogers is a former Democratic Party official and that Synergics was seeking approval under a new streamlining exemption to state law which the homeowner said was the product of Rogers' political connections.

Jennings said the exemption was the final approval needed and the company plans to begin construction in the spring.

Maryland Public Service Commission Chairman Doug Nazarian said the commission would rule as promptly as it can.

A Maryland Energy Administration official also spoke in support of the project, which he said would help the state meet renewable energy goals.

Andrew Gohn, Wind Energy Program Manager for the Maryland Energy Administration, said the project was vital to the state's efforts to secure 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources and the development of the sector would strengthen Maryland's position as an environmental and technology leader.

Jennings added that safety concerns were heard at the county level, but attorney William Saltysiak, who said he represented homeowners at a court hearing in Garrett County, told Nazarian he felt the judge in that case was confused on the commission's role in reviewing public safety. That prompted Nazarian to ask the company to provide a transcript of the court hearing.


Source: http://www.nytimes.com/apon...

OCT 14 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/22650-psc-considers-western-md-wind-power-proposal
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