Library filed under Impact on Landscape from Maryland
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.
Thanks to legislation passed a year ago, some wind-generation projects, such as the one Clipper Windpower Inc. wants to erect on Backbone Mountain, qualify for what is referred to as "fast-track approval," a move designed to circumvent much of the resistance created by those who are opposed to wind farms. Besides all of the negatives concerning wind turbines mentioned over and over again at hearings and in the columns of this and other newspapers (noise, inefficiency, blinking lights, potential threats to wildlife, etc.), at least one more emerged recently from the mayor and town councils of both Mountain Lake Park and Loch Lynn. It happens that the proposed turbines for Backbone Mountain will be located above the area of the towns' primary water supply (the Landon's dam reservoir). At least one expert says that the use of explosives to make way for the bases of the turbines could truly threaten the water supply.
Recently while traveling on business I drove from Somerset (Pa.) to Cumberland via U.S. Route 219. While not a "tree hugger" the visual eyesore of 40-story wind turbines atop mountain vistas was disturbing. The recent article on wind farms and the debate reported by the Times-News leads me to contribute my thoughts while on and after my drive. 1. What value are the residents of the area receiving from these farms? 2. Is this energy remaining local? 3. What amount of generated energy remains if any? ...Demand an accounting.
Many Montgomery County residents have enjoyed the beauty of Garrett County and the Deep Creek Lake area. Many have fond memories of the Scout camps, the state parks, skiing and happy summers spent in this refuge of nature. I encourage county residents to join with our neighbors in Garrett County by writing to the Department of Natural Resources, Gov. Martin O’Malley, and our state legislators.
Sentiment against the proposal is running deep and strong. ... While we are all for the "green" movement and alternative forms of energy, we agree with opponents who are worried about what 40-story high windmills will do the aesthetics of Garrett County. As was pointed out at the hearing, structures of that height easily dwarf anything else in Garrett County, including the seven Wisp ski resort. ...Before the project can go forward, the Department of Natural Resources has to adopt a policy on whether to allow turbines on state lands. The state's forests in Garrett County are among the most beautiful and pristine sites in Maryland. Marring them with skyscraper wind turbines would seriously mar that beauty.
The massive areas of mountaintop that would have to be cleared and the roads that would have to be maintained to keep these turbines up and running would be cleared of forest, the soil would be compacted as a result of installation, and trees would not be able to grow productively on the site in the future. Not to mention that the public land that is currently used for a variety of forest management and recreational activities would only have one use - a private company's long-term investment. I am not the "not in my backyard type." I have formal education and experience in the forestry field to back my statements. I just wonder where the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition got its forestry information.
Last spring we toured the Baltic Sea. As our cruise ship entered the seaport of Copenhagen, Denmark, we were treated to the sight of hundreds of wind turbines surrounding the entrance to the harbor. It was surreal - like stepping into another world. The old world charm is radically affected. Now we have the debate in Maryland over wind turbines on our state owned lands. The newsletter dated Jan. 14, 2008, of the Deep Creek Lake Property Owners Association details the actual scope of the plans for 100 or more of these obnoxious beasts on state owned land. The windmills are industrial turbines, 40 stories tall. The plan is to lease 400 mountaintop acres as each turbine requires that 4 to 5 acres be stripped. We are vehemently opposed to this plan on public property. ...It is our opinion that these proposed windmills would have a negative impact upon Garrett County's landscape and would create a terrible eyesore.
This is a letter of concern about wind energy farms coming to Western Maryland from the Allegany/Garrett Sportsmen's Association. We are conservation and sportsmen's association that represents multiple clubs in the western region. Our membership ranges between 4,000 and 5,000 members and their families. We are also a partner of the Wildlife Division and have worked with them over the years on many issues regarding wildlife, wildlife habitat, hunting, fishing, and game land management. Our organization is not totally against "wind energy" as an alternative energy resource. However, we are adamantly opposed to "wind energy turbines being installed on all state lands."
Even if I believed that wind industry in Maryland could significantly replace Maryland's fossil fuel plants to meet our present and future demands, I would still be opposed to permanently altering the forested Appalachian ridges, especially on the state owned lands. As it is, even stacked side by side on top of all of those ridges, those turbines would generate an almost meaningless amount of energy to the PJM grid especially during the annual peak demand in the summer when the winds are so variable and blow the least. Mr. Maisano's repeated assertions that the land is already under industrial use is highly deceptive. Timbering practices while temporarily disruptive to the forests does permit the land to regenerate. Permanent placement of turbines that require the destruction of thousands of acres of forest for placement of turbines, access roads, and electrical conveyance corridors, will not allow the forest to recover.
For all of us who cherish the beauty and natural qualities of Allegany and Garrett Counties, our citizens have a responsibility to seriously question the State of Maryland government as public officials negotiate with the company, U.S. Wind Force, to erect 100 industrial wind turbines, each the size of the Washington Monument in our mountains. ...Most importantly, and not really surprising, is the indisputable fact that little has been done in the area of planning and policy development at the local, state, and national levels of government on erecting wind farms on public lands. Has any one at the municipal, county, or state level given any thought to what constitutes protection of public health and safety for siting and operating these giant 400 foot industrial turbines with capacities of 1.65 to 2 megawatts of power? There is a lack of planning capacity in rural Allegany and Garrett Counties, as well as the rest of the Maryland, to deal with this complex issue, and the state does not seem to want to provide any assistance or do much to stand in the way of the wind developers. Let's face it, from a statewide perspective Western Maryland is the place of least resistance.