Thank you for Friday’s article on the PSC hearing in Garrett County on the Criterion Power Partners LLC industrial wind turbine project. (“Garrett countians sound off on plans for Clipper turbines,” March 7 Times-News, Page 1A)
I think it is important that the public be made aware of some additional and very important facts that I presented to the PSC and to the People’s Counsel at the hearing, issues that did not fully come out in your news article. These facts speak to the highly irregular procedure that the PSC and Criterion are using to affect, if not improperly influence, public comment in this matter.
Since Criterion’s filing with the PSC on Jan. 23, there have been at least three different versions of the application circulated by the PSC for public review. One was posted on the PSC website as a .PDF document that could be downloaded and read. That version contained absolutely no information or map showing the location of the project, even though the document states that it does so. Another version posted at the Ruth Enlow Library contains a topographic map of the Loch Lynn Heights area, but there are no turbine locations identified, again contrary to the statements in the application.
No document has ever been posted by the PSC showing the location of Criterion’s 28 industrial wind turbines.
The PSC’s own instructions for these applications state, “Every effort will be made to process and approve your application expeditiously. The Commission will not, however, consider incomplete applications. The single largest cause of delay in processing applications is due to incompleteness”. For some reason, the PSC is ignoring its own requirements and processing an application that any reasonable person would find incomplete.
What is most worrisome is that Criterion has submitted this application so as to be exempted from the usual rules of public and government scrutiny that come with the CPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) process. This new “fast track” exemption provides an end run option to utilities that allows them, and the PSC, to avoid the responsibility for identifying and evaluating the harmful effects of an industrial wind turbine project. Further compounding the problem is the limited information and opportunity that fast tracking gives citizens, severely limiting our scrutiny of a potentially harmful industrial development. For the PSC to compound the problem and participate in denying public information is absolutely outrageous.
These serious irregularities were brought to the attention of the People’s Counsel, PSC Chairman Larsen, and PSC Executive Secretary Romine’s attention, long before the hearing was held. There has been absolutely no response from these people – complete and absolute silence on the matter. Knowing that Criterion’s incomplete application raises serious questions as to what exactly they are planning to do, I personally requested Chairman Larsen and the People’s Counsel to move to intervene and reject Criterion’s application, require them to reapply with complete documentation, and to reschedule the hearing. That never occurred.
The PSC’s silence and lack of response is even more troubling than the project itself, especially when citizens are denied their fundamental right to be fully informed.
11 March 2008
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