Library filed under Impact on Landscape from Maryland
Maryland's first industrial wind farm has gotten off to a rough start, with construction temporarily halted after environmental regulators discovered mud washing from the remote Garrett County mountaintop site into a tributary of one of the state's wild and scenic rivers. Constellation Energy has scrambled to put in stronger erosion controls as it erects more than two dozen 400-foot-tall turbines along an eight-mile stretch of Backbone Mountain.
Startled residents in the Eagle Rock area, some located within just 15 or 20 feet of the project, used words such as "shocked" and "horrified" when they were awakened by the sound of chainsaws, trucks, dozers, and massive excavating machines felling thousands of trees adjacent to their properties. Several acres of forestland timber were leveled within a matter of a few days. The project, however, came to an abrupt halt Tuesday after one of the residents - who happens to be a contractor -suggested that the work was being done in a manner that was not in compliance with state environmental law.
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.
State energy officials are gauging interest from developers who would build an offshore farm of electricity-generating, skyscraper-sized wind turbines off the Worcester coastline. "The question is, how do we tap into the wind resources that we've got?" said Maryland Energy Administration Director Malcolm D. Woolf.
The mayor and council recently approved a first reading of the ordinance that would allow personal wind turbines as tall as 165 feet in Frostburg's backyards. At the Aug. 20 public meeting, the city officials are scheduled to have subsequent readings and a vote on the matter, though some talk has surfaced about postponing that action until September. "A structure this high is equivalent to a 16-story building," Bambacus told the elected officials in an e-mail.
Though the Mineral County commissioners heard from US Windforce on the Pinnacle project on Green Mountain last month, the Allegheny Front Alliance got the chance Tuesday to try to refute some of the wind developer's claims. The group's nearly hour-long presentation included sentiments that the energy provided by the project was not needed in West Virginia, but in the other states on the PJM grid.
A $1.2 billion, 150-mile power line that would cross Maryland and lay high-voltage cables under the Chesapeake Bay for the first time has been proposed to ease the threat of blackouts on the growing Delmarva Peninsula. But the proposal is generating opposition from environmentalists, landowners and even business interests in mostly rural Dorchester County, who worry that the project could disrupt farming, damage sensitive marshlands and blight the area's growing tourism.
Wind Farm near Keyser is a favorable site for turbines based on wildlife considerations, according to extensive studies conducted by environmental consultants retained by the developer, US WindForce. That was the message from Monday night's meeting of the Community Advisory Panel, delivered by Jennie Henthorn of Henthron Environmental Consultants.
Dear Allegany County commissioners:
Residents filled the auditorium of Washington High School on Monday evening in hopes that their voices would be heard and a change would be made to the proposed route for a high-voltage power line slated for construction in the area. Nearly 150 people turned out for a public hearing about P.A.T.H., which stands for Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, and is a joint venture of Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power that was announced last year.
I have perused two binders prepared by Dan's Mountain Wind Force, LLC, a subsidiary of U.S. Wind Force which, along with several state and local officials, wanted to place 100 industrial wind turbines in our state forests and parks. After nearly 500 people showed up to protest, Gov. O'Malley changed his mind. Now U.S. Wind Force has renewed its interest in the path of least resistance, the Allegany County commissioners.
On Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. in Room 218 at Frostburg State University's Dunkle Hall, the Maryland Public Service Commission will receive public comments on a Goliath windplant - with 29 industrial turbines, each nearly 500-feet tall - to be constructed over five miles of terrain atop Dan's Mountain, just south of Frostburg. The wind project would dwarf all development ever built in the history of Western Maryland and would be the most visually dominant feature in our landscape, particularly since its football-field-long rotor blades would be continuously in motion.
Harnessing the wind and doing all we can to utilize all kinds of clean, renewable energy sources should be the goal of all of us. But this particular technology is so far proving to be expensive, inefficient, and unreliable. So, Governor O'Malley, before wrecking our ridges, how about first going ahead with the offshore plan at Ocean City and see how it goes in terms of production and efficiency? (After all, on hazy days, we won't be able to see them ...
This is a letter of concern requesting commissionerʼs in both counties to enact a moratorium on Wind Turbines until more environmental, safety, and wildlife studies can be concluded. There are many issues regarding turbines that have not been adequately addressed. ...There are legitimate noise and health issues caused by wind turbines. This should be researched more before construction. We question why you are so urgent to bring Wind Energy Farms to our mountaintops before sufficient research and planning is concluded.
I am for "property rights" as much as anyone else, but unless I have been living on a different planet than Commissioner Holliday, I do not believe that I can do whatever I want with my property. If that were the case, our natural landscape and environment would be in a very sorry state today. ...Let us face the facts: The real issue here is not "property rights," wind turbines, or anything else that makes any logical sense. All the logical arguments have been presented to no avail. The commissioners have the power now to regulate industrial wind, but choose not to.
That predatory wind operatives, who provide no meaningful product or service, would sacrifice these mountains for their narrow self-interest is outrageous. ...Synergics Wind LLC has clear-cut and bulldozed hundreds of acres around Roth Rock, without securing grading permits beforehand and in areas well-known for harboring state-endangered species. Synergics has not applied for or received any construction permit from the Maryland Public Service Commission, as required.
One week after moving in, Loudenslager found out that a swath of the farm where cows graze and alfalfa grows soon could be cleared to make way for a high-voltage power line. "It's like a punch to the gut," Loudenslager said. "This is where I've wanted to be my whole life." Loudenslager's farm north of Boonsboro sits on one of several routes that have been suggested for the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH), which would run from St. Albans, W.Va., through Bedington, W.Va., to Kemptown, Md., in Frederick County.
During a work session last week, the Ocean City Mayor and Council reviewed a presentation from Bluewater Wind proposing a 200-turbine wind farm off the coast of the resort with construction beginning by 2013. Delaware recently approved a similar, albeit smaller, project off its Atlantic coastline with an anticipated 60-70 turbines producing enough energy to supply about 50,000 homes in that state. While all agreed the idea has merit from an alternative, renewable energy standpoint, the biggest concern raised during Bluewind's presentation last week was the visibility of the massive windmills from the shore and their impact on the landscape.
Visibility was the top concern amongst Mayor and City Council members this week, as they heard the latest updates on the potential offshore wind farm off the coast of Ocean City. Bluewater Wind came before the Mayor and Council this week in an effort to keep the community updated on the potential offshore wind park, one they hope will come to fruition no later than 2013. ...Council member Jim Hall questioned the stability of residents' energy bills, pointing out that only 10 percent of energy bills would be affected by wind energy. "We would still have 90 percent, at least, of fluctuation in our bills," he said.
"We don't want to see them. Standing on the beach, we don't want to see them," he said during the council's work session Tuesday afternoon. Councilman Jim Hall echoed the mayor's sentiment, saying the project could prove far more popular if the turbines were invisible from land. "If you can't see it," Hall said, "then you can add acres and acres of wind farms. I think people are going to eat it up." For Bluewater, it's an expensive courtesy. Lanard said pushing the turbines farther out to sea makes it more expensive. It costs $1,000 for every foot of cable connecting the wind farm to the shore.