Last week the Maryland Department of Natural Resources recommended that Synergics Energy Services be allowed to construct its proposed Roth Rock wind turbine facility along the ridgeline of Backbone Mountain. The agency made its recommendation to the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC), which has the final authority to grant or deny permission for the 40 megawatt project, consisting of between 15 and 20 turbines, to proceed. The PSC’s final decision is expected by the end of the year.
In its initial finding of April 20, DNR indicated that it would likely approve the project, although several unfinished studies would have to be completed and reviewed prior to the agency issuing its recommendation. Those studies included a nesting bird survey emphasizing species of concern; vegetation and wetlands studies; and evaluations of impacts to approximately 50 Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties located within two miles of the project site.
In last week’s letter to the PSC signed by DNR Secretary C. Ronald Franks, the agency said those studies had been completed, and gave its approval for the project with the qualification that several turbines in the initial proposal are situated at sites not suitable for construction. The 10 turbines originally planned for those sections have been moved to different locations within the project site, and several have been eliminated from the company’s proposal.
Franks also stipulated that post-construction studies of bird and bat kills be undertaken at the site, and if the numbers are determined to be excessive the wind company will be required to greatly curtail production during time periods of highest risk, such as the annual fall migration.
The PSC case record for the Synergics application, including the DNR approval, may be viewed on the commission’s web site at www.psc.state.md.us/psc
, under Case 9008