The Garrett County commissioners sent a letter to the Maryland Public Service Commission this week, requesting that the public commentary period for a proposed wind turbine project be extended by up to 30 days. The letter was drafted at the request of Oakland resident Barbara Boone.
California-based Clipper Windpower, now known as Criterion Power Partners, has filed an application with the PSC for an exemption to the “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” issued to construct and operate wind turbines in Garrett County.
The PSC has scheduled a public hearing on the issue for Thursday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in Room 224 in the Continuing Education building at Garrett College.
Criterion first proposed constructing 67 wind turbines on private land along Backbone Mountain about six years ago. The company later revised that initial plan and received a PSC permit to construct 40 turbines with a combined generating capacity of up to 101 megawatts of electricity.
Recently, however, the company further downsized the project to 28 wind turbines that would generate up to 70 megawatts. This revised plan is now small enough to allow Criterion to fast-track it through the state approval process because of a law that was passed during last year’s General Assembly session.
March 6, the day of the PSC public hearing, is the last date for interested persons to present verbal or written comments on the proposed project.
About a dozen local residents met with the county commissioners Tuesday morning to discuss their views on the Criterion and other wind turbine projects proposed for the local area.
Boone requested that the commissioners ask the PSC to extend the comment period for the Criterion exemption. She noted that the company’s application is available online for public viewing but would take hours to download even with a high speed Internet connection.
“The application online is unusable,” she told the commissioners. “Many people will not know [about the project] until the PSC meeting. Send a letter to the PSC to keep the comment period open for 30 days after the meeting.”
The commissioners did not comment on Boone’s request during their meeting with her. But county administrator Monty Pagenhardt forwarded her and other interested parties a letter he drafted to the PSC Tuesday afternoon.
“I am writing to you on behalf of the Board of Garrett County Commissioners to request that the public commentary period for Case Number 8938 be extended for an additional period of time up to but not to exceed 30 days past the hearing for public commentary scheduled for March 6,” the PSC letter read, in part. “The board of county commissioners believes that this additional period of time will provide interested parties with an opportunity to comment on information provided at the hearing.”
Should Garrett College be closed on March 6 because of inclement weather, the public hearing will be held on Wednesday, March 12, at 7 p.m.
Written comments may be sent to the Public Service Commission, 6 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 (Re: Case No. 8938) by the date of the hearing.
Copies of the application are available at the Ruth Enlow Library in Oakland.
28 February 2008