Ruling not the final word in effort to build on Dan's Mountain
CUMBERLAND — A judge with the Maryland Public Service Commission denied a motion by Allegany County on Tuesday that sought to dismiss an ongoing effort by Dan's Mountain Wind Force LLC to secure PSC support to build a wind farm on Dan's Mountain.
Although the ruling is a setback for Allegany County, the PSC decision is far from the final word in the ongoing struggle by Dan's Mountain Wind Force to construct a 17-tower, 59.5 megawatt wind farm on Dan's Mountain.
The case has been complicated by the dual paths being pursued by DMWF, which has the option to appeal a denial of variance by the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals or pursue support for the wind farm through the state PSC.
"The reason we filed (a motion to deny) with the PSC, we felt it wasn't right for the PSC to overturn a local ruling," said Bill Valentine, county commissioner.
DMWF had sought 21 variances in total, according to Valentine, for separation distances and property line setbacks. The proposed site of the wind farm is adjacent to eight residences. In addition, the wind farm would be built at the same location that Allegany County is installing its new interstate 911 communications system.
According to Valentine, when DMWF was denied the variances in December 2015, the company began an effort to circumvent the ruling and its appeals process by going to the state and the PSC to secure a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN). DMWF did secure a CPCN, however, the certificate expires as of Dec. 31, 2016.
Valentine said the ruling is urging DMWF to decide in the next 10 days between an appeals process through Allegany County and continuing to extend the CPCN with the PSC.
"I was told what that judge said is you (the DMWF) have 10 days to decide whether you want to drop your legal motions and forget about the county or drop your PSC," said Valentine. "They don't want the two things going on at the same time."
Valentine said the PSC wants the DMWF to decide which method it will pursue to see the case through. In the meantime, the case is far from over.
"We will see which they will go," said Valentine.
Plans for the wind farm on Dan's Mountain have also received resistance from residents in the area. Several Harwood subdivision and Bel Air residents are opposing the wind farm and have been involved in the PSC case.
DMWF could run out of time. Although the PSC will allow DMWF to keep its current CPCN, the certificate expires Dec. 31 with DMWF having yet to begin construction of the wind farm.
The PSC frustration with the case is evident through a condition it included in the ruling in regard to its future support of DMWF.
"I deny the motion to dismiss (by the county)," the ruling says, "with the condition that the applicant (DMWF) will agree to forgo seeking a further extension of the construction commencement deadline for its CPCN exemption."
The judge ruling for the PSC is Terry J. Romine, chief public utility law judge.