CUMBERLAND — A plan to build a 17-turbine wind farm on Dan's Mountain was dealt a serious blow when a judge issued a proposed order Wednesday that would effectively kill the project.
The 125-page order reviewed the legal arguments of both sides before Chief Public Utility Law Judge Terry J. Romine outlined a proposed order denying a required permit.
"Overall, in weighing the benefits against the adverse impacts that are unable to be mitigated ... I find that the benefits that may accrue to the public at large by construction of the wind project do not justify or offset subjecting the local community to the adverse impacts that will result from the wind projects construction and operation," Romine wrote in the proposed order.
Typically, the orders become final in about a month, although the Public Service Commission can modify or reverse the proposed order.
Allegany County officials had previously denied permits for the project, but developers hoped to have a better outcome at the PSC.
Dan’s Mountain Wind Force, LLC, issued a statement in response to the judge's proposed order. "“Dan’s Mountain is disappointed with the draft order denying the CPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) permit. 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 statement said.
Construction costs for the project were estimated at between $90 and $100 million by the developer. Among the benefits of the project, the statement said, would be payment of county property taxes "of approximately $720,000 annually over the first 20 years of operation."
Opponents of the project formed an organization named ANCHOR (Allegany Neighbors & Citizens for Home Owners’ Rights) to challenge the wind farm, expressing concerns including noise and destruction of the views in the neighborhood. The president of the organization was pleased by the ruling.
"I am elated and very grateful for the hundreds and thousands of people who took great amount of time to testify, signed our petitions to save Dan’s Mountain, mailed in postcards and letters, and gave donations to ANCHOR in this 1 ½ years battle (in two different hearings) against the ... project. Thank you so much, words cannot express how relieved we all feel at this time. Thank you god for answering our prayers," said K. Darlene Park in a Wednesday email.