Library filed under Impact on Landscape from Maryland
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.
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 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.
So many people have flooded the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with emails, calls and letters about a proposal to build wind turbines in state forests that the agency has been forced to find a larger venue for its public hearing. "We've had a lot of interest expressed, so we changed the date," said Olivia Campbell, spokeswoman for the state wildlife agency. "We are making it easier for the public to participate. We realize a lot of people have passion on both sides." ...Some people have expressed strong opposition to the idea of letting developers rip up state forests and build tall industrial machines. Others strongly support the idea of using state property to generate clean, pollution-free electricity.
Scenery or aesthetics management is a key element of any planning process that is committed to integrating human values into ecosystem management. The proposed wind farms do not fit into this process because they would bring green energy only in an environmentally destructive form. The wind farms would be the proverbial Trojan horse: Masqueraded as a green energy source, they would bring esthetic and environmental destruction.
However, wind plants provide virtually no capacity to the grid, as does every conventional generator. Spending $400 million for energy and no capacity is, energy-wise, incredibly stupid; only the gullible would support the idea - or those who would make immediate investment profits from it. ...But here's the real challenge for Joe McDaniel's take on wind technology: Where is the responsible - or even logical - environmental ethic in dynamiting, clear cutting and fragmenting scores of miles of some of the rarest, most environmentally sensitive, and picturesque mountain habitat in Maryland to install, for example, 200 skyscraper-sized machines in order to produce less than 100MW of hit-or-miss energy in a region that annually generates nearly 140,000 MW of electricity, with no assurance these wind projects will abate carbon emissions and with certainty they will not supplant any conventional generators, including especially coal?
... a critical analysis of the workings of our region's electricity grid reveals that industrial wind energy development within Appalachia belies its "green" reputation. ...Wind turbines will not lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Maryland's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law requires that 9.5 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources (basically from wind) by 2019, with a bump to 20 percent likely. Do the math. Meeting the aggressive RPS goals of Maryland and other states in the PJM grid region will require the permanent destruction of hundreds of miles of forested Appalachian ridgelines to accommodate thousands of wind turbines. Is it worth it? Hardly.
... a proposal by U.S. Wind Force to lease 400 mountaintop acres in the Savage River State Forest and Potomac State Forest so it can install about 100 wind turbines the size of the Washington Monument, may be one of the most destructive and dangerous policy proposals ever to confront he citizens of Allegany and Garrett Counties. ...It is very troubling that Gov. O'Malley is even considering this proposal, while at the same time promoting tourism and economic growth in our region. This is good stewardship of our natural resources and an improvement to our public land? This is government working in our behalf? At the Mountain Maryland PACE Legislative Breakfast held earlier this year, our Governor said, " ... we are preserving our heritage - protecting our forests ... and promoting tourism." Really?
Topics from wind turbines on state land to alcohol sales on Sunday were discussed at a legislative forum held on Saturday at Garrett College. "We continue to have problems on the southern part of the county (with wind turbines)," Bob Lewis of Oakland said. "But I sense a lot of opposition on this. There are people taking a stand against this that have not previously taken a side on the issue." Delegate Wendell Beitzel and Sen. George Edwards both discussed their views on this current topic of debate. Beitzel said he was opposed to placing industrial windmills on state forests, saying the land is something that needs preserved. He said other parts of the state are coping with the loss of farmland and open space because of development. "We're really lucky to have this state land in the county," he said. "I'm very much opposed to these."
Mark Diehl, conservation chairman of the Western Maryland Group of the Sierra Club, and Sam White, Western Maryland representative of the Maryland Sierra Club, both told the District 1 legislative delegation Saturday during a public forum at Allegany College of Maryland they oppose that type of renewable, clean, alternative energy source. But why? For starters, Diehl said, "it's just not worth it. It seems like a good idea" but it's not. He said it would take too many tall, unsightly turbines - "thousands, maybe tens of thousands" - to gather enough wind and produce enough energy to make a difference. The alteration of the area's scenic beauty, he said, isn't worth the sacrifice.
Opinions remain mixed over the O'Malley administration's proposal to lease state park land for wind power turbines. ...for Peter Skylstad and Kevin Dodge, wildlife biologists and professors at Garrett College, the loss of 400 acres just for the turbines makes them wary of things to come. Skylstad said he is worried that it is something that would set a precedent for other permanent impacts and the continued shrinking of the size of the forest ecosystem. He added that as the property proposed is public land, he doesn't feel it is something the state can make a profit from. "The public should make that decision," Skylstad said. "At least they should be informed. One of the reasons I came here is I appreciated what Maryland had up here, and they keep inching into that environment."
During a week filled with concerns about protecting the environment comes the alarming news that state officials are considering exploiting one resource to develop another. As reported by The Sun's Tom Pelton, the O'Malley administration is weighing a request from Pennsylvania developers to lease and clear-cut 400 mountaintop acres in two state forests in Western Maryland so they can erect 100 wind turbines, 40 stories tall, to supply clean power to just 55,000 homes. This counterproductive proposal should be rejected out of hand. Publicly owned land should be not be leased to private developers for any purpose, much less one that by definition will deny access to and enjoyment of that land to the public. ...Wind power is very attractive because it offers a renewable energy source that does not emit the pollutants that contribute to global warming and poison the Chesapeake Bay. But windmills don't come without their own costs to the environment and to the quality of life of those who live nearby. Whether densely populated Maryland is an appropriate place for wind farms is still an open question. The only windmill project to win state approval so far got it through a General Assembly mandate to overrule environmental conditions applied by the Public Service Commission.
A Pennsylvania company is asking the O'Malley administration for leases in two Western Maryland state forests so it can clear up to 400 mountaintop acres to build about 100 wind turbines. The U.S. Wind Force structures would be about 40 stories tall and visible from some of the region's most popular tourist areas, including Deep Creek Lake and the Savage River Reservoir. ...Dan Boone, a former state wildlife biologist who has been fighting wind farms in Western Maryland, said the Savage River and Potomac state forests contain rare old-growth trees and threatened species. "You are talking about taking one of the most spectacular scenic overlooks in Maryland and industrializing it," Boone said of a proposed site on Meadow Mountain in the Savage River forest. "It would be a real tragedy to take state lands and convert them into an industrial theme park for U.S. Wind Force."