CUMBERLAND – A wind-farm developer hopes Allegany County commissioners will agree to easements and rights of way so that the company can place a power transmission line under a small portion of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and the Great Allegheny Passage trail, both owned by the county. The area where the line would pass under the two parallel routes is near state Route 36 and Spataro Lane.
Harry Benson, of EverPower Wind Holding Inc., made a presentation on the project to Allegany County commissioners at their Thursday work session.
The line will travel underneath the ground for about 600 to 800 feet and protect the viewshed by only arising to an above-ground pole about 300 feet on either side of the underground bore, said Adam Patterson, a county engineer who reviewed the project.
The tree line will make most of the above-ground line invisible, Benson said. The company is also working with the city of Frostburg and more than two dozen private landowners for easements and rights of way needed for the project. The private landowners will receive more than $3 million over 25 years and the county will earn tax payments over the life of the project, Benson said.
Everpower is offering the county $20,000 every 10 years for the easements and rights of way to be paid over the life of the project, expected to be 25 to 45 years, said Benson. However, the payment will be tied to the consumer price index, so if inflation increases, the payment would increase.
The power line would run from EverPower’s proposed Twin Ridges Wind Farm in Somerset County, Pa., and through Frostburg, where it would link up to the Allegheny Power Frostburg No. 1 substation, located south of the intersection of state Route 936 and Welsh Hill Road. The line would run 10 miles, with 1.5 miles of the line in Frostburg and 5.7 miles of the line in Allegany County, with the remainder of the line located in Pennsylvania.
The underground portion of the line will be completed by a boring process using a machine with a drill bit head, equipped with a GPS coordinator. The actual transmission line goes inside a polyvinyl chloride sleeve, which protects the line. The total construction cost for the line is estimated at $10 million, Benson said.
The company said the construction work would create 37 temporary but full-time jobs and 1.5 to two permanent jobs to maintain the line. Local contractors would be hired to do the clearing work, Benson said.
Everpower is a medium-size energy company founded in 2002 in Pittsburgh, Benson said. It is constructing wind farms in Pennsylvania in Somerset County and Cambria County. Nearby Pennsylvania stations don’t have the ability to handle the 150 megawatts to be generated from the wind farm, so EverPower plans to run its power through the Frostburg substation.
Because the company is not a pubic utility, it does not have eminent domain rights and must negotiate with landowners, Benson said. The company is also obtaining the necessary Maryland Department of the Environment permits for putting up power lines and boring for the underground line. The company has submitted a land development plan to the county and is revising its plans in response to the comments by county planners and engineers, Benson said.
Commissioners said they’d review the request and place the matter on a future agenda for a decision.
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