Article

Residents want protection on wind projects

Many local citizens spoke up at a Maryland Public Service Commission meeting about feeling unprotected by state and local government when it comes to a proposed wind turbine project on Backbone Mountain. "As it has been mentioned, Garrett County has no zoning whatsoever," former state Sen. John Bambacus said at the Thursday night meeting at Garrett College.

MCHENRY - Many local citizens spoke up at a Maryland Public Service Commission meeting about feeling unprotected by state and local government when it comes to a proposed wind turbine project on Backbone Mountain.

"As it has been mentioned, Garrett County has no zoning whatsoever," former state Sen. John Bambacus said at the Thursday night meeting at Garrett College. "There is no protection at all at the state level for the people. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask the state government to protect the people."

The proposed 50-megawatt Roth Rock project would have less than 20 turbines, which allows it to qualify for the expedited Maryland Public Service Commission process. By receiving a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity exemption, the company would be able to bypass some of the PSC process for projects larger than 70 megawatts.

Many argued that without the traditional review by the PSC, the lack of zoning in Garrett County would mean little regulation of these turbines.

"I'm not saying no turbines," Paul Durham, Oakland resident, said. "I just think we need to identify the shortcomings and come up with a statewide siting standard. I'm asking for leadership."

Durham added... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

MCHENRY - Many local citizens spoke up at a Maryland Public Service Commission meeting about feeling unprotected by state and local government when it comes to a proposed wind turbine project on Backbone Mountain.

"As it has been mentioned, Garrett County has no zoning whatsoever," former state Sen. John Bambacus said at the Thursday night meeting at Garrett College. "There is no protection at all at the state level for the people. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask the state government to protect the people."

The proposed 50-megawatt Roth Rock project would have less than 20 turbines, which allows it to qualify for the expedited Maryland Public Service Commission process. By receiving a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity exemption, the company would be able to bypass some of the PSC process for projects larger than 70 megawatts.

Many argued that without the traditional review by the PSC, the lack of zoning in Garrett County would mean little regulation of these turbines.

"I'm not saying no turbines," Paul Durham, Oakland resident, said. "I just think we need to identify the shortcomings and come up with a statewide siting standard. I'm asking for leadership."

Durham added that he wants to be optimistic about the politicians down state, though many people throughout the hearing criticized the legislature. He said that he wanted to believe they were not aware that their decision to allow Senate Bill 566 to pass and put the certificate exemption into law would leave Garrett County in a predicament with no regulation of the wind energy industry.

He said that otherwise, "they did know, and just didn't care."

Proponents of the project talked about property owners' rights. John Roth of Oakland, who is prepared to lease out his land to Synergics Wind Energy, LLC, said he didn't feel the county has the right to tell him what to put on his property.

"I've farmed the land for many years," Roth testified. "I would like to use my land for a different kind of crop. That would be wind energy … I feel friends shouldn't tell friends what to do with their own land."

Other residents defended Roth's right to do so. Steven Friend of Oakland said that he had seen what zoning had done in the county at Deep Creek Lake in comparison to Backbone Mountain.

"Which would you rather have?" he asked the audience of more than 60 people.

Delegate Wendell Beitzel said he would not voice an opinion on the matter, but asked that property owners who enter the leases with Synergics make sure that all responsibility falls on the company and not on them for any removal or other issues with the project. He also told the property owners to get legal counsel to ensure that they get exactly what they deserve in the lease agreement.

However, neighbors of the site of wind turbine No. 1 on the proposed project said they are concerned with the proximity to their homes or property where homes are set to be constructed. Some said they have property less than a half a mile, others less than 1,000 feet to that turbine's proposed location.

Victor Fikes, who is involved with the development in that area, said that he felt there are safety and health risks to being positioned so close to the turbines.

Wind turbine syndrome is being researched as a health effect due to the strobe-like action of the sun shining through the blades and the noise from the turbines, said Kim Connaughton, an attorney and Oakland business owner,

There was also criticism of how the wind turbines could affect the tourism industry in Garrett County, but Karen Myers of Wisp resort, as well as a developer and partner in the DC Development and Marsh Mountain LLC, spoke in favor of bringing the technology to the area.

She said that while the technology may still be in the early stages, she felt that wind power could play a major role in serving the energy needs in the future.

Maintenance of the machines as well as how they will be removed at the end of their useful lives were concerns for her, as they were for many others who suggested that some form of bond be required for the removal of the turbines when the time comes.

The need for new technology and power sources brought Henry Green, a minister in Annapolis, to speak in favor of the industry. He said that in his church he sees more and more the need for affordable energy bills, and he felt the project could help provide it so that the state isn't constantly outsourcing to meet its power needs.

Jon Boone, Oakland resident, felt that the project doesn't meet the standards of the certificate guidelines. He said that the only area that the exemption hearing would allow the PSC to analyze is the ability for the project to help with the stability of the grid and provide needed power.

He argued that because wind is not steady throughout the course of a year, it isn't really a stable power source. During some parts of the year, he said, other power plants would be forced to produce more energy to compensate for downtimes in wind energy production.

At the close of the meeting, David Moore, the PSC hearing examiner, said that he would take all comments made at Thursday night's meeting back to PSC staff.


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

JUN 12 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20615-residents-want-protection-on-wind-projects
back to top