GARRETT COUNTY, MD – Wind turbines planned for Savage State Forest are the subject of a big meeting in Garrett County Wednesday night.
The company that plans to build says it’s following an initiative by state leaders who want to increase Maryland’s renewable energy.
Opponents to the plan say the real incentive is not green energy, but green backs.
To those opposed to turbines in Maryland’s Savage State Forest, the sound of wind turbines is also the sound of doom.
“It would take away the natural beauty of the mountain top and replace it with a large wind amusement arcade,” says Jon Boone, a member of the “Friends of Backbone Mountain” organization.
The company behind the project is Pennsylvania-based U.S. Windforce.
It has applied to build up to fifty turbines on the public land. Each would be about 400 feet tall.
U.S. Windforce says the state and other counties limit their location options, even as state lawmakers push to increase the state’s renewable energy.
It says ultimately it selected the site because of its potential to generate lots of wind.
Opponents to the project have a different take.
“What are the drivers for the windmills? It is money. There’s definitely green. It’s not green energy, it’s green backs. Everyone’s concerned about dollars,” says Jeff Connor, a Garrett County landowner.
Connor is referring to tax breaks available for wind energy producers through the U.S. government.
He owns a farm that’s been in his family for generations.
His view wouldn’t be immediately affected by what happens on the public land in question, but another wind project in the works could forever change the visual landscape from his backyard.
“It shows the potential for 500 turbines. Each turbine would be taller than virtually every tall building in Baltimore city, except three,” Boone says.
Another concern – the projects’ impact on one of the county’s largest industries – tourism. It brings in 15.2 million dollars in local tax revenue each year.
Two private turbine projects have already been approved in western Maryland.
The two projects discussed Wednesday night would be located on two mountains in Savage State Forest: Meadow Mountain and Maryland’s tallest mountain – Backbone Mountain.
The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Garrett College.
Reported by: Lena Vargas
30 January 2008
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