Articles from Maryland
The Mineral County Commission moved Tuesday to go on record in support of the proposed Pinnacle Wind Farm. The support, however, is not unanimous. After going into executive session to discuss "legal matters," which they later said related to the proposed contract in which WindForce will agree to commit itself to a "floor" for tax revenue to be generated by the project, two of the commissioners said they felt it was time for the county to commit to a position.
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.
Delmarva Power's four power purchase agreements with wind developers should begin paying dividends by the end of the year, with the first clean-energy electrons flowing to the state later this fall. One land-based wind farm under contract to the local utility could start sending electricity to Delaware by year's end, and another in western Maryland could get its permit soon despite concerns the turbines could harm endangered species. That project has an easier path to approval thanks to a controversial new law that exempts smaller wind farm projects from an extensive environmental vetting.
Light breezes and low elevations make Baltimore County uninviting territory for big wind farms, but the terrain could be more promising for residents hoping to trim electric bills and their "carbon footprint" with a home turbine. The outlook could hinge on deliberations going on now, as the county revises the zoning code to cover such projects. Meanwhile, one homeowner's plan for the county's first electricity-generating wind turbine remains on hold as neighbors who say they support alternative energy have lined up against it.
Nearly 100 people attended West Virginia Public Service Commission's hearing on the Pinnacle Wind Farm, Thursday afternoon at the Mineral County Courthouse, with all but one of more than two dozen speakers backing the project for its economic impact, clean energy and even visual appeal. ...The deadline for a decision on the project is Jan. 11. If approved, WindForce officials hope to have the wind farm operational by the end of 2010.
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.
Amendments to Frostburg's wind energy systems ordinance will reduce the maximum height of a residential wind turbine from 165 to 75 feet and limit the number of wind energy systems to one per each lot of record. The mayor and council approved the amendments Thursday night. A public hearing on the amended ordinance is scheduled during the regular City Council meeting Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Frostburg Community Center.
The state began its pursuit of offshore wind generation Tuesday, a move that could lead to building 400-foot-tall turbines off Ocean City. The Maryland Energy Administration asked wind developers to express their interest in building industrial-size windmills a dozen or more miles off the state's 31-mile coastline. At the same time, the energy agency said it is launching a study to gauge the economic viability and environmental impact of such a project.
The Maryland Energy Administration is soliciting interest in building wind energy farms off of the state's coast. The agency is reaching out to offshore wind developers for help in planning such a project. According to the U.S. Energy Department, the state's potential for wind power development offshore rivals that of the Midwestern U.S - conditions along the coasts are well-suited to generate wind energy, officials say.
Frostburg City Administrator John Kirby said Wednesday he would not be surprised if the mayor and council amend a potential residential wind turbine ordinance, thus pushing any final vote on the matter into October.
US WindForce will conduct the regular month meeting of its Community Advisory Panel Thursday night at the WindLea Banquet Center, with a state energy official to address the group on the eve of the West Virginia Public Service Commission's hearing on the proposed 23-turbine wind farm. Bill Willis, a program coordinator with the West Virginia Division of Energy, will be the guest speaker for the meeting.
The mayor and council members will hold a public hearing today at 6:15 p.m. at City Hall concerning the proposed Zoning Text Amendment of the zoning ordinance to allow for wind energy systems within the city. "In a nutshell, (the amendment) says that only small wind turbines will be allowed as an accessory use in most zones.
Nine people interested in municipal wind turbines spoke from the audience for more than an hour at Thursday's Frostburg mayor and council meeting, most of whom praised an ordinance that, if passed, will permit the power generators. "You have given us a lot of food for thought," Councilman Richard Weimer told those who spoke. "We have our work cut out for us. We have heard a lot of valid concerns here."
A year ago, Barry and Urszula Antonelli received county approval to install a 120-foot wind turbine at their new house in Phoenix and neighbors immediately appealed that decision. Realizing there were no specific zoning regulations for windmills or wind turbines, the county's planning staff has spent the past year working on recommendations to regulate wind turbines for residential use.
A start-up wind company official said with federal stimulus funding and state permits, the doors to the former Bayliner plant at Mexico Farms could have local people back to work by the holiday season. John Congedo, president of AC~Wind, listed online with a Grantsville address, told the Times-News Tuesday that AC~Wind has contracted with Brunswick Corp., parent company of Bayliner, to use its facilities in Cumberland and Salisbury.
A Federal Hill woman seeking to become the first Baltimore resident with a wind turbine on her roof failed to win approval from city officials yesterday. The effort by Marsha Vitow brought opposition from neighbors concerned about safety and aesthetics and confounded city officials ... David Tanner, executive director of the board, said the members had a long debate but decided wind turbines were not a legal exception.
Two planning issues are going to wait for a decision in Mineral County as the county commissioners ask the planning commissioners to review potential wind turbine regulations and prepare to look over a draft of the exotic entertainment ordinance. "We're asking (the planning commission) to look at the public good," Commission President Wayne Spiggle said. "We're trying to figure out what we're going to look at in 10 years."
Despite a potential windfall of $300,000 a year or more for schools, the Mineral County Board of Education will not take a position in support of the proposed Pinnacle Wind Farm prior to the September hearing on the project to be conducted by the West Virginia Public Service Commission. Officials from U.S. WindForce appeared before the school board earlier this month to preview the project atop Green Mountain just west of Keyser, as well as the plan to divert about three-quarters of the wind farm's property tax revenue to the school system. Opponents of the project appeared before the board at the same time.
A battle is brewing between Baltimore County and such community organizations as the Pikesville-Greenspring Community Coalition over windmills in residential neighborhoods. The county is devising regulations allowing windmills with restrictions. But PGCC and other community groups are opposed to windmills in people's backyards.
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.