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US Wind Force, opponents have their say; Zoning code amendments could kill future wind energy projects

The Allegany County commissioners on Tuesday gave Tom Matthews, US Wind Force president, 60 minutes to explain why the proposed county zoning code amendments would terminate future wind energy projects here. But Matthews only needed 53 of them to tell them the legislation is a bad idea - and that they could be held liable for "potentially illegal roadblocks."

CUMBERLAND - The Allegany County commissioners on Tuesday gave Tom Matthews, US Wind Force president, 60 minutes to explain why the proposed county zoning code amendments would terminate future wind energy projects here.

But Matthews only needed 53 of them to tell them the legislation is a bad idea - and that they could be held liable for "potentially illegal roadblocks." Matthews directed his comments directly to the three commissioners and avoided confronting the shaking heads of the project's naysayers.

Code Home Rule Bill 2-09, Matthews said, "would kill the Dan's Mountain wind project."

The state Public Service Commission granted US Wind Force in March, with conditions, an exemption from obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Critics have said the commission was obligated to grant the exemption based on the project's size - less than 70 megawatts - and ignored basic safety concerns expressed by Allegany County residents.

Matthews argued the county commissioners' bill went too far in regulating industrial wind energy. US Wind Force, doing business as Dan's Mountain Wind Force, "voluntarily agreed to allow the Public Service Commission to condition our permit,"... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CUMBERLAND - The Allegany County commissioners on Tuesday gave Tom Matthews, US Wind Force president, 60 minutes to explain why the proposed county zoning code amendments would terminate future wind energy projects here.

But Matthews only needed 53 of them to tell them the legislation is a bad idea - and that they could be held liable for "potentially illegal roadblocks." Matthews directed his comments directly to the three commissioners and avoided confronting the shaking heads of the project's naysayers.

Code Home Rule Bill 2-09, Matthews said, "would kill the Dan's Mountain wind project."

The state Public Service Commission granted US Wind Force in March, with conditions, an exemption from obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Critics have said the commission was obligated to grant the exemption based on the project's size - less than 70 megawatts - and ignored basic safety concerns expressed by Allegany County residents.

Matthews argued the county commissioners' bill went too far in regulating industrial wind energy. US Wind Force, doing business as Dan's Mountain Wind Force, "voluntarily agreed to allow the Public Service Commission to condition our permit," Matthews said. "We knew we had done everything we would have done if we were applying for a CPCN. In other words, gentlemen, the system worked and worked well."

That was March 12. The next day, Matthews said staff in the Allegany County's Division of Land Development Services accepted - but still refused to process - a Phase III land-use permit.

Matthews said the Dan's Mountain projected called for 28 wind turbines. The number was later lowered to 25 - the "break even point" for the project to be economically viable, he said.

"We will not be able to build this project if we (eliminate) even one more turbine," Matthews said.

Implementing many of the proposed zoning code text amendments - including separation distances and setbacks - would eliminate between three and 15 of the remaining 25 turbines, Matthews said.

And if the county Board of Zoning Appeals acted upon the authority given to it by the legislation, members there could increase separation distances to up to 3,000 feet. That, Matthews said, "will eliminate all but one turbine."

Matthews told the commissioners the language of the bill indicated the county Planning and Zoning Commission had no intention of allowing commercial wind farms in Allegany County.

He said many of the requirements proposed by the Planning Commission "demonstrate such a lack of knowledge, I don't know where to start."

Matthews advocated that industrial wind turbines should be a permitted use and not only a special exception.

"Developers can not deal with special exceptions," he said. "We need certainty."

Matthews offered the commissioners a number of options. He suggested they could: reject the bill outright; adopt language US Wind Force proposed during the presentation - which is available in PDF in its entirety at www.times-news.com; grandfather the Dan's Mountain project; "or let the court systems opine on the reasonableness, fairness and timing of the actions of Allegany County regarding our project."

A number of other people, including local construction workers, against the bill had signed up to speak but were not permitted to due to the one-hour time limit implemented by the commissioners.

The following files are large - 7 MB and 5 MB, respectively - but are worth a look for a clear picture of US Wind Force's presentation on Tuesday before the Allegany County commissioners.

Part 1 - US Wind Force presentation (PDF)

Part 2 - US Wind Force presentation (PDF)


Source: http://www.times-news.com/l...

MAY 6 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20159-us-wind-force-opponents-have-their-say-zoning-code-amendments-could-kill-future-wind-energy-projects
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