Article

Constellation project under way

The project is still on track to meet its goal of entering commercial operation by the end of the year, he said. But opposition to the project could also be gaining steam. In a June 23 letter, the Garrett-based group Save Western Maryland and the Maryland Conservation Council provided formal notice to Constellation, county government officials and related state and federal agencies that they plan to sue unless Constellation seeks an incidental take permit.

28-turbine project on Backbone Mountain faces opposition, possible lawsuit

DEER PARK - Six tall, white, pole-like structures rose over the Garrett County landscape in recent days, the first highly visible signs of the Constellation Energy project to construct 28 wind turbines atop Backbone Mountain.

Those structures, called towers, are the stems of the wind turbines, which basically consist of four large pieces: a tower, a rotor, a nacelle - the pod-like structure located at the top of the tower - and blades.

Constellation spokesman Larry McDonnell said that the first nacelle could be hung on its tower within a few days, depending on the weather, and the first fully assembled turbine could be completed within a few weeks.

The project is still on track to meet its goal of entering commercial operation by the end of the year, he said.

But opposition to the project could also be gaining steam. In a June 23 letter, the Garrett-based group Save Western Maryland and the Maryland Conservation Council provided formal notice to Constellation, county government officials and related state and federal agencies that they plan to sue unless Constellation seeks an incidental take permit from... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

28-turbine project on Backbone Mountain faces opposition, possible lawsuit

DEER PARK - Six tall, white, pole-like structures rose over the Garrett County landscape in recent days, the first highly visible signs of the Constellation Energy project to construct 28 wind turbines atop Backbone Mountain.

Those structures, called towers, are the stems of the wind turbines, which basically consist of four large pieces: a tower, a rotor, a nacelle - the pod-like structure located at the top of the tower - and blades.

Constellation spokesman Larry McDonnell said that the first nacelle could be hung on its tower within a few days, depending on the weather, and the first fully assembled turbine could be completed within a few weeks.

The project is still on track to meet its goal of entering commercial operation by the end of the year, he said.

But opposition to the project could also be gaining steam. In a June 23 letter, the Garrett-based group Save Western Maryland and the Maryland Conservation Council provided formal notice to Constellation, county government officials and related state and federal agencies that they plan to sue unless Constellation seeks an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to the group, the wind project will adversely affect Indiana bats and Virginia big-eared bats, both classified as federal endangered species, and is therefore in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.

By law, the suit cannot be filed within 60 days of a party giving formal notice of intent. That means the earliest a lawsuit could be filed is late August.

But attorney Brad Stephens, who represents Save Western Maryland, said the group is also looking into other legal action that could be taken before that time.

"It's our position that Constellation cannot, under the law, and should not, as a matter of prudence, construct all of the turbines as intended without obtaining an ITP," Stephens said. "We believe they should halt construction immediately and seek that permit."

An incidental take permit effectively protects developers from violating the Endangered Species Act by creating a plan in advance to deal with the possibility that endangered wildlife could be harmed by a project.

The company has not yet filed an application for the permit, though McDonnell stated in April that it would be doing so.

"We are working closely and cooperatively with state and federal wildlife agencies to avoid, minimize and mitigate any wildlife takes that may be incidental to the project, even though our data suggests that the possibility of a take is remote," he said Friday in a written statement. "The exact timeframe for the issuance of an incidental take permission is being finalized with the agencies."

Plans for a second wind farm on Backbone Mountain have been undergoing revision and review in recent weeks, and that project could be moving closer to the start of construction.

The Roth Rock project, as it is known, will consist of 20 2.5-megawatt wind turbines stretched across about three miles of the mountain top near the West Virginia border.

The county office of Planning and Land Development approved the project's last six required building permits Thursday, according to Jim Torrington, chief of the permits and inspection division.

Logging activity began several months ago on the site. Wayne Rogers, CEO of project developer Synergics, said the logging was "normal tree cutting" not associated with his company, and done under separate permitting.

"We will use the logging roads (improved with better gravel and stormwater runoff protection) to the extent possible," Rogers wrote in an e-mail interview. "We will have to clear some timber and remove stumps left by logging activity, but it is only after the land has been logged."


Source: http://times-news.com/local...

JUL 25 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/27447-constellation-project-under-way
back to top