It seems that the bottom line in the ongoing wind turbine controversy is that, since Garrett County does not have countywide zoning, there are few legal recourses with any real teeth that are at the disposal of those who oppose the installation of these giants, either on state property or private property. The Department of Natural Resources is obviously taking its good old time before rendering a decision on whether or not to allow state forestland to be utilized for wind farms, a proposal that raised the ire of hundreds (probably thousands) of Garrett County residents, property owners, and even regular visitors.
It’s inconceivable that the DNR, Governor O’Malley, the Public Service Commission (PSC), and others in authority would sell us out in this manner, but the longer it goes before a decision is rendered, the more nervous those of us who oppose the proposal become.
If, indeed, permission is ultimately granted for a wind facility – on private or public lands – the very least that should be required of the wind developers is that they would be 100% responsible for the removal of turbines if for any reason they are abandoned or become non-functional. There have been a number of instances in this country, and probably in Europe as well, where turbines have gone belly-up, and the developers are under no obligation to bear the great expense of dismantling them and restoring the property. The PSC should demand such a binding stipulation in any permit or agreement with wind developers.
The Garrett County commissioners, who have to date elected not to pursue the “dreaded” zoning path, should most certainly write to the PSC with this unconditional demand, and certainly citizens should do likewise. The Maryland PSC web site can be found at www.psc.state.md.us/psc, and it is clear on the site as to how one can submit opinions, complaints, and suggestions.
20 March 2008
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