Library filed under General from Maryland
A woman now residing in Gaithersburg recently wrote to praise the power of limited liability wind companies to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal, and to condemn the fact that a "propaganda-istic" documentary I made, Life Under a Windplant, featuring the people and scenes around Meyersdale, is available from the county public library. People are entitled to their opinions, of course. But here are the facts.
Maryland has opened energy supply talks with a Delaware offshore wind developer, hoping to tap into green energy from an expanded wind farm off Rehoboth Beach. State Energy Administration officials in Maryland said Wednesday that options now under review include using Bluewater's proposed turbine complex to power all of Maryland's state and county buildings, and possibly drawing energy from a second wind farm that could be built off Ocean City. ... "This is in its infancy. At first blush, I would say: Build it in Delaware, let us look at it, let us see how it looks and what kind of problems you have first," Hall said. Neither of Bluewater's talks in Maryland and New Jersey currently involve forced contracts or costly, regulator-driven deals of the type used in Delaware to produce the Delmarva contract.
Hutter said he fears the "unintended consequences" of quickly drafted ordinances for or against wind turbines. So does John Bambacus, who was formerly a state senator and Frostburg mayor. After nearly 40 years in public service, he plans to ask the county planning commission June 18 to declare a six-month moratorium on any applications for wind turbines, residential or industrial, to allow county officials time to decide what should be allowed, where and under what constraints, if any. "What I have found as I have become involved in this issue for the last year or so is that in other parts of the country, it's moving at warp speed," Bambacus said. "There needs to be adequate safeguards to protect the public environmentally, as well as for public health (and) public safety, especially in industrial turbines being proposed in this region. Some of these will be as high as 440 or 460 feet ... The fact there are no safeguards in place whatsoever in Garrett County and only modestly in Allegany County ... it seems to me that rural areas have to be on their toes.
Though two Synergics wind turbine projects in Garrett County have not yet been filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission, the energy expected to be produced by them has already been put under contract. ...The contracts signed are for a proposed Synergics project on Roth Rock bordering Mettiki Coal Co. on Backbone Mountain, according to Frank Maisano, wind-power industry spokesman. This project is expected to begin delivering 40 megawatts of power in September 2009. The second Synergics project will likely be on Four Mile Ridge near Avilton, where Synergics has meteorological towers situated to study the wind potential there, Maisano said. This project is expected to produce 60 megawatts of power by December 2010.
A surcharge on electric bills in Delaware and surrounding states that was designed to increase generating capacity hasn't delivered on its promise, four states are arguing in a complaint filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The states of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania filed the complaint late Friday, together with a coalition of electricity buyers and consumer advocates. They say the surcharge will overcharge electricity consumers in the 13-state territory in the PJM Interconnection grid by $12 billion between 2008 and 2011. As a share of that, Delmarva Power ratepayers in Delaware will overpay by about $125 million in "unjust and unreasonable" rates, the states claim.
Attention, hunters on Green Mountain and all local citizens. Please show your concern. See Web site ResponsibleWind.org, which is a group trying to protect the Blackwater Falls Area and Allegheny Front. In this newsletter they said that the turbines have disrupted the bear and rattlesnake habitat and the animals are seen in lower areas near homes. The turbines cause noise pollution and visual pollution of the beautiful mountains. The U.S. government has halted many projects due to bird deaths or potential interference with military radar. And the vast collections of turbines - some of which reach 40 stories tall are unreliable and unsightly. Let's not rush into something that we as a county may really regret.
Frank Maisano's job, for which he is well-paid, is to trick communities and local officials into believing that erecting hundreds of wind turbines throughout Garrett County will somehow make life better here. It is a job repeatedly performed by him and other industry-financed promoters in rural areas throughout the country. ...My job, for which I am paid nothing and have no financial interest, is to attempt to educate people concerning the reality of this fundamentally exploitative business and the consequences of succumbing to its false promises.
The question about whether Garrett County will use its power of eminent domain to seize private property if a citizen refuses to grant an easement to a wind turbine company is purely a hypothetical one, according to the Garrett County commissioners. The officials indicated on Tuesday that they have no desire to use that power anytime in the near future. "You can never say never, but you can say that it's not on the horizon," said commission board chair Denny Glotfelty during a public discussion about eminent domain. "We preserve personal property. That's what we stand for. So we're not going to turn around and take that right away."
Self-styled "green" leaders across the country face a conundrum over wind power: Do they alienate part of their constituency by leveling pristine forests to build wind farms, or irritate the other part by rejecting a promising source of renewable energy? When Gov. Martin O'Malley faced that choice in April , he opted for the latter, and in no uncertain terms. ...But wind energy supporters said that while many Americans support the concept of wind farms, nobody wants them built in their backyards.
First of all, the Board of County Commissioners will not "unlawfully seize property - period. ...Perhaps more important to an understanding of this issue is the reluctance that the county has had in using the power even for its own uses. It is important to note that it has been much more frequent that commissioners have directed staff to look for alternatives that would protect the property rights of the residents of Garrett County. The limited use speaks to this and represents those circumstances where there was no other option. With all of that said, and realizing that this is a power that the commissioners have, we have no expectation that it would ever be used.
What is the county's position on the use of eminent domain as it relates to siting, permitting, or constructing anything to do with a 440-foot industrial wind turbine?" First of all the board of county commissioners will not "unlawfully" seize property, period. Since the Supreme Court decision several years ago, the traditional limits that have existed on the use of eminent domain have been removed. As a result, local governments can use that power, if they choose, for nontraditional purposes, including economic development.
Since there are no regulations restricting the placement of turbines on private lands in Garrett County, and since the legislature in 2007 stripped away all Public Service Commission oversight, any wind developer, no matter how undercapitalized, incompetent, shady, or unscrupulous, may erect hundreds of turbines anywhere it chooses, at will. This will become the fate of Garrett County if nothing is done locally to stop them. Fortunately, something can be done, if our public officials will only exercise the courage and good judgment their responsibilities of office dictate.
Through legislation passed last year, a company with plans for power projects generating less than 70 megawatts would bypass the certificate process. While the Clipper project proposed on the same land had been a larger-scale project than Criterion, the reduction to 28 wind turbines allows the Criterion project to fall within the exemption range. However, the change in the amount of energy being produced, the increased height of the turbines, and the change from Clipper to its subsidiary, Criterion, have been the subject of opposition to the PSC's possible acceptance of other studies, like the effect on local wildlife, done when the project was first proposed in 2002.
Will Garrett County use its power of eminent domain to unlawfully seize private property in the event a citizen refuses to grant an easement of any kind to permit an industrial wind turbine company right of way for a cable crossing, access road, etc.? What is the county's position on the use of eminent domain as it relates to siting, permitting, or constructing anything to do with a 440-foot industrial wind turbine?
State regulators say they need more time to review a proposed settlement before deciding whether to approve a $1.3 billion multistate power line. State law requires the West Virginia Public Service Commission to issue a decision on the power line by May 3. But the PSC said last week that it wants to push back the deadline until at least Aug. 2. Allegheny Energy Inc. subsidiary Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co., also known as TrAILCo, wants to build the 500-kilovolt, 240-mile power line between Washington County, Pa., and Loudoun County, Va. In West Virginia, the line would pass through Monongalia, Preston, Tucker, Grant, Hardy and Hampshire counties.
Mr. O'Malley's decision might even be considered courageous in light of his belief that massive wind technology should be part of the mix that will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and end our dependence on foreign oil. The governor is a busy man with much on his mind - all the more reason that he should surround himself with staff who can provide him with better information. He seemed genuinely surprised when afterwards he was told that oil only contributes 0.3 of 1.0 percent toward the production of our electricity, making it clear that wind energy can do nothing to mitigate our reliance on foreign oil. And given the thermal implications involved in balancing wind's volatility, among other factors, the technology can offset at best relatively miniscule levels of carbon emissions. ...County leaders should work to prohibit such development before it devalues property (as even the threat of it has already done), creates unlawful noise, kills wildlife, diminishes hunting grounds, and otherwise diminishes how we literally see ourselves.
Wind power isn't looking popular in Maryland right now. Meanwhile, nuclear power has picked up strong local support. That might seem backward in the minds of some environmentalists, who portray wind turbines as a symbol of good and nuclear reactors as an emblem of evil. Some have called this one of the most liberal states in America. So why is the expected symbolism falling apart here? ...in western Maryland, local outrage continues to mushroom over the proposed construction of the state's first wind turbines. Residents in Garrett County can hardly remember a proposal that was as widely unpopular and brought so many angry citizens out to public meetings. The issue isn't safety. It's the industrialization of wooded mountaintops that are the heart of their rural identity and tourist economy.
Gov. Martin O'Malley said Saturday that his administration will not allow commercial wind turbines on state forest land, ending a heated four-month debate. "While we must continue to explore and make progress on creating a more sustainable and independent energy future for Maryland, we will not do so at the expense of the special lands we hold in the public trust," the Democratic governor said. O'Malley spoke at a news conference at a scenic overlook in the Savage River State Forest. ...The state sought public comment on the concept, bringing 1,400 responses, 83 percent of them opposed, DNR spokeswoman Olivia Campbell said.
The Department of Natural Resources is obviously taking its good old time before rendering a decision on whether or not to allow state forestland to be utilized for wind farms, a proposal that raised the ire of hundreds (probably thousands) of Garrett County residents, property owners, and even regular visitors. It's inconceivable that the DNR, Governor O'Malley, the Public Service Commission (PSC), and others in authority would sell us out in this manner, but the longer it goes before a decision is rendered, the more nervous those of us who oppose the proposal become. ...the very least that should be required of the wind developers is that they would be 100% responsible for the removal of turbines if for any reason they are abandoned or become non-functional.
Seven hundred Maryland residents showed up at hearings at the state capitol and in western Maryland to protest an industrial wind farm proposal they say would despoil the region's mountaintops.