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County approves power line easement  

Credit:  Matthew Bieniek, Cumberland Times-News, times-news.com 25 August 2011 ~~

CUMBERLAND  – Allegany County commissioners voted Thursday to grant an easement for a power transmission line which will run under a portion of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and other county-owned property. The line must still be approved by the state Public Service Commission.

The line is owned by Big Savage LLC. 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 the ground for about 7 miles in Frostburg and Allegany County. Big Savage LLC is a subsidiary of EverPower Wind LLC, a Delaware company.

Big Savage will pay the county $20,000 every 10 years for the easement.

Company representative Mike Getty told commissioners the agreement had been modified by attorneys for both sides. County personnel have also toured the areas where the line will pass underground, said company representative Harry Benson.

“This is a project that will bring jobs to the county and revenue to the county and city,” Benson said.

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 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.

Big Savage 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.

It’s estimated the cost to construct the line is $4 million, according to documents filed by the company with the PSC. However, Benson added Thursday that the total project cost will be closer to $10 million. The project will create one and a half line maintenence jobs in the county and about 40 construction jobs to install the line, he said.

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 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.

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.

The easement vote was taken at the regular weekly commission meeting. Commissioner Creade Brodie was not present because he was attending a meeting of the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority.

Speaking at the commission meeting were Westernport resident Thomas Marsh, who spoke against a proposed Potomac River water plant and instead asked that an earlier plan for a county loop system be revived for consideration. Ittie Rahani and John Michael Davis spoke in favor of building a new Allegany High School. Brian White read a letter signed by teachers at Allegany High outlining the poor conditions there and supporting building a new school.

Source:  Matthew Bieniek, Cumberland Times-News, times-news.com 25 August 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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