Let me share two items that emerged at the recent Maryland Public Service Commission administrative hearing on the Criterion Wind application. Because of its expected unreliability, the PJM grid, which produces up to 140,000MW, has granted this project only 13% of its 70MW nameplate capacity. This means that, if there is a transmission crunch, as is often the case, the grid will limit transmission from Criterion to 9MW–which ought to be important news to wind investors and those expecting revenues indexed to production results.
Criterion’s spokesman, Kevin Rackstraw, maintained his company would not dynamite. Incredulous, one of the PSC commissioners, Harold Williams, pressed Rackstraw on this question. Williams said that, although he was not a geologist, he knew how hard the bedrock on Backbone Mountain was. He asked again whether Criterion would assure the commission that it would not blast. Rackstraw paused. He finally replied that Criterion would dynamite if it must. To which Williams replied, “You mean you’re not going to dynamite unless you do…?” Given the soil substrate of this region, any blasting should be a highly dubious proposition.
Illegal, unhealthful noise and devaluations of nearby property are only two of the many documented adverse consequences that flow out from massive wind installations. The Criterion project in particular will also devastate hundreds of acres of sensitive habitat, putting at risk much wildlife, some species of which are extremely vulnerable. The county commissioners endorsed this project last month without investigating what it would do to people and property here; this is a chilling take of how avarice overwhelms the common good. Pimping these beautiful mountains away for unsecured revenues represents values I neither understand nor respect.
I have spent much time investigating these limited liability wind companies, accepting no money in the process. I can document everything I’ve said about the industry, including its feckless energy performance and its utter inability to do anything about our reliance on fossil fuels or climate change. It is simply a system for generating huge tax shelters for large corporations–and it exploits rural areas because they are considered the “path of least resistance.
I am proud to be aligned in this fight against the forces of ignorance and greed with people such as John Bambacus, Vince Collins, Ed Gates, Jeff Connor, Bill Wilhelm–and, never least, my wife Barbara–for all represent the very best of this, or any other, community.
PSC Wind Intervenor
8 May 2008
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