FROSTBURG - In a draft order, a Public Utility Law Judge has recommended that the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) deny a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) permit for the construction of the Dan's Mountain Wind Farm.
The project, developed by Dan's Mountain Wind Force, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Laurel Renewable Partners, LLC, filed the 2,000-page permit application in January 2016, but the project has been in development since 2002.
"Dan's Mountain is disappointed with the draft order denying the CPCN permit," said David Friend, managing partner with Laurel Renewable Partners LLC.
"Allegany County certainly needs the jobs and tax revenue that this project would create. We have not yet had the opportunity to review the entire order and are exploring our options with regard to an appeal."
The 17-turbine Dan's Mountain wind farm is planned for Dan's Mountain, southeast of Frostburg in Allegany County. The project's planned nominal capacity is 39 megawatts but could be increased to as much as 59.5 megawatts, depending on final turbine selection.
The cost to construct the project at 39 megawatts is estimated at between $90 and $100 million. At that project size, county property taxes are projected to average more than approximately $720,000 annually over the first 20 years of operation, placing it among the county's largest taxpayers.
Property taxes in the first few years are expected to exceed $1.1 million per year.
Friend noted that the project would create a significant number of local construction jobs and a handful of permanent, well-paid operations and maintenance jobs at the site, while also creating other ancillary business activity related to the construction and operation of the wind farm.
The PSC process included an exhaustive environmental review, two public input hearings, and a multi-day evidentiary hearing before a Public Utility Law Judge who was assigned the case by the PSC.
DNR's Power Plant Research Project (PPRP) also completed its own independent environmental review of the project and concluded that the project's impact would be minimal. However, the judge's draft order cited the impact of aesthetics on the local communities located in and around Dan's
Mountain as the primary concern for denying the CPCN.
"In addition to the economic benefits, wind energy is good for the environment, too", said Friend. "Electricity production is our largest source of greenhouse gases. Maryland has been very successful at reducing those emissions, but has done so mostly by getting out of the generation business - over the last 10 years the amount of electricity produced within the state of Maryland has dropped by more than 25 percent. Maryland imports more than 40 percent of its electricity from other states.
"The Dan's Mountain project, if ultimately approved and constructed, will provide a way to meet more of the electricity demand through in-state electricity production, without harming the environment."
Laurel Renewable Partners, LLC, based in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, is a privately held developer of utility scale wind energy projects.