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Wind developer seeks PSC approval for power line

CUMBERLAND — A wind farm developer seeking easements from Allegany County for a power transmission line has requested an expedited review by the state Public Service Commission for the transmission line project.

The line, owned by Big Savage, LLC, would run under a small portion of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and the Great Allegheny Passage trail, parcels owned by the county. The area where the line would pass under the two parallel routes is near state Route 36 and Spataro Lane. The line will also run above ground for about 7 miles in Frostburg and Allegany County. Big Savage LLC, is a subsidiary of EverPower Wind, LLC, a Delaware company. The line would originate at the company’s Pennsylvania wind farm in Somerset County.

The tree line will make most of the above-ground line invisible, company officials have said.

“The Qualified Line will be comprised of overhead single circuit conductors mounted on approximately 62 pole structures, mostly wooden monopoles, along with a small number of steel or concrete structures where necessary. The single poles, on average, will be 75 feet above ground,” Big Savage wrote in its PSC application.

The PSC only has jurisdiction over the above-ground portions of the line in Allegany County.

Calls to the PSC external affairs department Thursday and Friday seeking more information on the process and limits to PSC jurisdiction were not returned.

The company said it is seeking the expedited consideration to meet a 2012 service date and continue to qualify for federal grants.

The above-ground line will 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 cost to construct the line is estimated at $4 million, according to documents filed by the company with the PSC.

An evidentiary hearing on the request has been set for Aug. 30 at 11 a.m. at the Cumberland Holiday Inn at 100 S. George St. An additional hearing for public comment will take place on the same date at 7 p.m., according to a notice of hearing in the PSC files. The morning evidentiary hearing is a quasi-judicial proceeding, and while it is open to the public, public comments are not taken during that proceeding.

The company also maintains the line will create significant property tax revenue for the county and the project as a whole will create about 200 full and part-time jobs in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The line will travel underground 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 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 company representative Harry Benson.

However, the payment will be tied to the consumer price index, so if inflation increases, the payment would increase.