Library filed under General from Maryland
Possible wind energy industrialization of Garrett County has brought into focus the conflicts between needs and preferences of the individual citizen vis a vis the interests and desires of local government, state government and big industry. ...Local government is local because it best knows and understands the concerns of citizens. Local elected officials are in the best position to represent the preponderance of views of their constituency. I implore our local officials to protect our resources, be proactive in fighting those forces threatening those resources and be forthcoming in their views and positions that relate to these issues.
About 75 local residents attended a Maryland Public Service Commission hearing Thursday evening at Garrett College on a proposed wind power project. PSC chief hearing examiner Bryan Moorehouse heard testimony from 30 residents, with 24 opposing the initiative. The event was nearly 3½ hours long. Clipper Windpower, also known as Criterion Power Partners, plans to construct wind turbines along the Backbone Mountain ridgeline between Allegheny Heights and Wild Turkey Rock. The structures would have a combined generating capacity of up to 70 megawatt (MW) of electricity. "This is not a new project," said Kevin Rackstraw, Clipper's eastern development leader. "It's actually a very old project."
At a recent public meeting, someone said I was opposed to electricity produced by coal, nuclear, and hydro-as well as wind. Moreover, I was reminded that I was off the mark by saying wind technology could not prevent new conventional power plants from being built to meet increasing demand, pointing to a recent Parade magazine article reporting the governor of Kansas was building a 1000MW wind facility, obviating the need for a new coal plant. Here's reality. ...
Though there are claims that representatives of Clipper Windpower could not recall Garrett County trying to get out of a lease between the company and the Garrett County Sanitary District, documents show that the county did make such attempts, Mike Getty, county attorney, said. "We did exactly what the memo (from 2005) said. We looked for the best way possible to remove the county from housing a windpower facility..." Getty said. "We were contacted by (Clipper's attorney) that they weren't interested."
I am asking the county commissioners to reverse their decision supporting placement of wind turbines on privately owned Garrett County ridges and vigorously pursue strategies that would prevent this use of private land in our county. It is very clear to me that Maryland's politicized Public Service Commission will not safeguard the citizens of Garrett County. Furthermore, our county's influence pales in comparison to that of our far Eastern counties and state government. As was discussed at the Jan. 30 public hearing at Garrett College, Garrett County is seen as the path of least resistance for the state of Maryland to meet her alternative energy mandates. I would like for our county to make it very clear that we are NOT the path of least resistance ...
A deal made in 2003 between the Garrett County Sanitary District and Clipper Windpower could result in wind turbines on property now owned by the county. "The county had nothing to do with that," Denny Glotfelty, county commission chairman, said. "The sanitary district at that time was a private entity. ... The county took over the sanitary district and the county tried to see if they could get out of the contract." Glotfelty, who had been on the Garrett County Sanitary District before it became a county-operated entity, said that the proposal was made to the sanitary district in 2002, and the sanitary district presented it to the towns of Loch Lynn and Mountain Lake Park, both of which had water sources in the area in question on Backbone Mountain. When both towns agreed to allow the wind turbines to come in, the sanitary district moved ahead with a lease with Clipper.
The Garrett County government stands to reap more than $840,000 in royalty payments from a 2003 agreement allowing construction of three wind turbines on county land, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The disclosure follows the county commissioners' unanimous vote Feb. 5 to oppose construction of wind turbines on state forest land because they would reduce its recreational value. Dennis Glotfelty, Republican chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, said Friday he saw no reason to reveal the county's stake in the Clipper Windpower Inc. project during heated debate about turbines on public land over the last three months. "The people didn't bring it up and nothing was addressed on it one way or another," Glotfelty said.
There were many testimonies as to how wind turbines would ruin beautiful Garrett County's rural landscape. But more importantly pointed out were all the misconceptions and mistruths that the wind companies have been advertising and lobbying. Wind turbines provide meaningless energy because there is no capacity. This means that the wind turbines can produce energy only when the wind is blowing and not provide meaningful energy when it is needed the most, with no possible way of storing the energy for later usage when it could actually help. Therefore, not a single coal-fired plant could ever be replaced or kept from being built by constructing wind turbines. It was clear to me and almost everyone present that the many cons of wind turbine installation on state lands far outweigh the very few pros. It was also crystal clear to me that Garrett County does not want wind turbines.
A statement that was so important to so many citizens and that was brought up so many times throughout this meeting and supported by at least 99% of those in attendance, to preserve, protect, enhance and restore Maryland's natural resources for the wise use and enjoyment of all citizens. After all these are state lands in question and the caretakers are the Department of Natural Resources staff and this is their mission and objective statement to "protect, preserve, enhance, and restore for the wise use and enjoyment of all citizens." Was I the only one that heard this?
In response to the full-page wind turbine advertisements that appeared in recent editions of the Cumberland Times-News, the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition states that it is important to know the facts about wind power and presumes to list several of their so-called facts. ...Harvesting timber is a valid silvicultural practice and a part of sound forest management. Before logging takes place, tracts of land are cruised (in layman's terms, meaning the amount of available timber for harvest is measured), and a contract is developed with the logger that provides for careful planning of roads, protection of water quality, and forest regeneration. ...Does this person take into account the roads that will have to be constructed and maintained to access the turbines for maintenance purposes? The massive areas of mountaintop that would have to be cleared and the roads that would have to be maintained to keep these turbines up and running would be cleared of forest, the soil would be compacted as a result of installation, and trees would not be able to grow productively on the site in the future.
James Stanton, chairman of the Garrett County Democratic Central Committee, said that the construction of 100 "monster" turbines, each taller than the tallest building in Baltimore, is not an appropriate use of state green space. "As a matter of good public policy, state forests should not be used for this purpose," Stanton said. "The proposed large turbines and propellers, 40 stories tall...(would be) the reverse of the 'leave no trace' philosophy embraced by the Department of Natural Resources." "It's the very character of the mountains...and the state forests that define who we are," said state Del. Wendell Beitzel, a Republican from Garrett County whose ancestors grew up the rural area. "I beseech you to relay to the governor and other people that we don't want wind turbines on our land in Western Maryland." Charlie Ross, head of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce, said: "Please reject this proposal." "What calculus of economic benefits can possibly justify destroying our public land forever?" asked John N. Bambacus, a former state senator from Western Maryland who has been active in rallying Garrett County business and political leaders against the leasing of state forests.
The massive areas of mountaintop that would have to be cleared and the roads that would have to be maintained to keep these turbines up and running would be cleared of forest, the soil would be compacted as a result of installation, and trees would not be able to grow productively on the site in the future. Not to mention that the public land that is currently used for a variety of forest management and recreational activities would only have one use - a private company's long-term investment. I am not the "not in my backyard type." I have formal education and experience in the forestry field to back my statements. I just wonder where the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition got its forestry information.
Local residents who attended Tuesday's Garrett County commissioners meeting feel that the draft of the county comprehensive plan does not recognize their opinions on bringing wind power to the county. "I've been disappointed that you've held no hearings, answered no questions and basically you put what I know to be a developer boiler plate for your passage in the comprehensive plan," John Boone said. Boone argued that not only does the draft plan seem to show support for the existence of wind power in Garrett County, but that he believes such support is unfounded. The portion of the plan reads, "While the county acknowledges the potential negative impacts of wind power facilities, it also recognizes the benefits, especially those related to clean, sustainable power generation, and the socioeconomic and fiscal benefits to the county. On balance, the county supports wind power at appropriate locations, provided any site-specific negative impacts can be mitigated."
Frostburg State University's president, Jonathan Gibralter, wrote in praise of renewable energy initiatives, particularly wind technology mentioning, among other examples, Denmark, and implying that Danish wind projects were leading the way to a better European energy future. Gilbralter is doubtless prospecting for more government grant funds in the renewable energy marketplace, as university presidents are wont to do these days. However, he knows little about his subject, which is an increasing problem with academics on an economic mission. ...None of the other examples President Gibralter provides as evidence for wind technology's effectiveness would pass even casual scrutiny. Since it provides no capacity and produces such desultory energy, conventional plants must accompany wind energy, providing most of its power over time. University presidents should embrace the skepticism of science, rather than be seduced by deceits of fashion.
The governor talked at length about developing clean, renewable energy sources, whether it be solar power, wind or otherwise. A wind energy coalition has applied to build wind turbines on state land in Allegany and Garrett counties. O'Malley said that a "balance" must be struck between harnessing renewable energy sources and preserving Mountain Maryland's scenic beauty. "We did not want to make a decision without hearing from everybody," said O'Malley, who said that the western part of the state is "one of the most beautiful places that God put on the planet."
Even if I believed that wind industry in Maryland could significantly replace Maryland's fossil fuel plants to meet our present and future demands, I would still be opposed to permanently altering the forested Appalachian ridges, especially on the state owned lands. As it is, even stacked side by side on top of all of those ridges, those turbines would generate an almost meaningless amount of energy to the PJM grid especially during the annual peak demand in the summer when the winds are so variable and blow the least. Mr. Maisano's repeated assertions that the land is already under industrial use is highly deceptive. Timbering practices while temporarily disruptive to the forests does permit the land to regenerate. Permanent placement of turbines that require the destruction of thousands of acres of forest for placement of turbines, access roads, and electrical conveyance corridors, will not allow the forest to recover.
One of the most important public meetings in the history of Garrett County will be held in the auditorium of Garrett College next Wednesday evening, when officials from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will be present to receive testimony from citizens about the proposal to place wind turbines on state forest land in the county. It is hoped that all 300-plus seats of the auditorium, as well as every available square foot of standing space, will be filled. ...Even John Griffin, secretary of the DNR, said that it is unlikely that there will be any kind of wind-energy development in the bay and around Ocean City "in our lifetimes." (His exact words.) So basically the proponents of wind energy, including our governor, are seeking "the path of least resistance." That path would be right here in Garrett County, folks. Because we are much fewer in number than those who live in the aforementioned areas downstate, this is where they want to open a door that will be almost impossible to ever close again. What it equates to is a total lack of respect for those of us who live here, those of us whose livelihoods are based directly or indirectly on the tourism industry, which will most certainly be damaged if the wind towers are allowed to be placed on state land. How dare they.
Sen. George Edwards, who sent a letter Friday to Gov. Martin O'Malley opposing energy-producing wind turbines on state lands in Western Maryland, said the issue must be resolved. Edwards said he's spent considerable time meeting with a number of constituents and groups to learn more about the issue. "The way the majority of these people (think), even those who support windmills, oppose putting them on state land," Edwards said. "I think there's other things better we can do on state land, than put windmills, that would provide a lot more benefit for local people. The best thing the state can do is not allow windmills on state land in Allegany and Garrett counties." Edwards said wind turbines on private land "is a little different than (placing them on) state-owned property" and questioned whether it is a good idea to rely on wind as an energy source for the masses.
The Citizens For A Responsible Energy Future sent this letter to all landowners in Garrett County, MD. The full letter can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has changed the dates of two public meetings about the possibility of wind-power projects on state forest land in western Maryland. The first meeting will be held the night of January 30 at Garrett College in McHenry, a week later than previously scheduled.