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Garrett Co. discloses financial stake in wind power project

The Garrett County government stands to reap more than $840,000 in royalty payments from a 2003 agreement allowing construction of three wind turbines on county land, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The disclosure follows the county commissioners' unanimous vote Feb. 5 to oppose construction of wind turbines on state forest land because they would reduce its recreational value. Dennis Glotfelty, Republican chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, said Friday he saw no reason to reveal the county's stake in the Clipper Windpower Inc. project during heated debate about turbines on public land over the last three months. "The people didn't bring it up and nothing was addressed on it one way or another," Glotfelty said.

The Garrett County government stands to reap more than $840,000 in royalty payments from a 2003 agreement allowing construction of three wind turbines on county land, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The disclosure follows the county commissioners' unanimous vote Feb. 5 to oppose construction of wind turbines on state forest land because they would reduce its recreational value.

Dennis Glotfelty, Republican chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, said Friday he saw no reason to reveal the county's stake in the Clipper Windpower Inc. project during heated debate about turbines on public land over the last three months.

"The people didn't bring it up and nothing was addressed on it one way or another," Glotfelty said.

John Bambacus, a former Republican state senator from Frostburg who opposes wind farms in mountainous western Maryland, said the county's failure to disclose the agreement voluntarily "is an inconsistency at best and hiding information from the public at worst."

Bambacus told the AP early last week that he was seeking a copy of the agreement under Maryland's Public Information Act. The AP filed its own request Feb. 19 and received the documents... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Garrett County government stands to reap more than $840,000 in royalty payments from a 2003 agreement allowing construction of three wind turbines on county land, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The disclosure follows the county commissioners' unanimous vote Feb. 5 to oppose construction of wind turbines on state forest land because they would reduce its recreational value.

Dennis Glotfelty, Republican chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, said Friday he saw no reason to reveal the county's stake in the Clipper Windpower Inc. project during heated debate about turbines on public land over the last three months.

"The people didn't bring it up and nothing was addressed on it one way or another," Glotfelty said.

John Bambacus, a former Republican state senator from Frostburg who opposes wind farms in mountainous western Maryland, said the county's failure to disclose the agreement voluntarily "is an inconsistency at best and hiding information from the public at worst."

Bambacus told the AP early last week that he was seeking a copy of the agreement under Maryland's Public Information Act. The AP filed its own request Feb. 19 and received the documents Thursday.

The easement agreement between California-based Clipper and the Garrett County Sanitary District was signed in January 2003. Glotfelty and County Administrator Lamont G. Pagenhardt said the Board of County Commissioners unwittingly inherited it when the commissioners took over the previously independent Sanitary District three months later.

The Sanitary District operates water and sewer systems in the county. The land in question contains springs that produce drinking water for the towns of Loch Lynn Heights and Mountain Lake Park, said Pagenhardt and Glotfelty, who was on Sanitary District board in 2003. He was elected to the three-member Board of County Commissioners in 2006.

Pagenhardt said he first learned of the contract in 2005 when a Clipper representative proposed revisions to the agreement. Pagenhardt said county leaders then recognized the controversial nature of the agreement and tried to cancel it, but Clipper refused.

"Believe me, if we could have gotten out of it, we would have," Pagenhardt said.

But Frank Maisano, a spokesman for Mid-Atlantic wind power developers including Clipper, said the commissioners have never sought to get out of the deal.

The 30-year lease includes royalty payments of 2 percent of gross operating proceeds for the first 15 years and 3 percent for the next 15 years. Maisano said Clipper estimates the county's annual take at $7,500 to $8,000 per turbine initially. With the 50 percent increase in the second half of the agreement, total royalties would reach $844,000 to $900,000. Any increase in energy prices would boost the royalty amount, Maisano said.

Clipper, of Carpinteria, Calif., received permission from state utility regulators in 2003 to build a 67-turbine wind farm -- later reduced to 40 turbines -- on Backbone Mountain, but it hasn't been built. Clipper recently proposed downsizing the project to 28 turbines generating up to 70 megawatts to qualify for fast-track approval under a state wind-power deregulation law passed last year. A public hearing on that plan is set for Thursday in McHenry.

The issue of wind turbines on public lands arose in early December when The (Baltimore) Sun reported that another developer, U.S. Wind Force, had proposed placing about 100 windmills on state land it would lease atop Backbone and Meadow mountains in Garrett County. The administration of Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley is accepting written public comments on the concept through March 3. Speakers at two public hearings held in late January were overwhelmingly opposed.


Source: http://www.wusa9.com/news/n...

FEB 29 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/13592-garrett-co-discloses-financial-stake-in-wind-power-project
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