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Savage power line agreement reached  

Credit:  Matthew Bieniek, Cumberland Times-News, times-news.com 31 August 2011 ~~

CUMBERLAND – A clear path through the woods and under the ground seems likely for a proposal to run a power line through portions of Allegany County that will carry power generated by a wind farm in Somerset County, Pa.

No one spoke against the proposal by Big Savage LLC, at a state Public Service Commission hearing Tuesday, and at the meeting, lawyers for the state and the company announced an agreement that should result in an expedited certificate allowing work to begin.

Allegany County commissioners have already approved an easement for the project through county lands. Frostburg could grant an easement at their Sept. 15 meeting, according to a press release from the city of Frostburg.

Big Savage LLC is a subsidiary of EverPower Wind LLC, a Delaware company.

A year’s worth of detailed negotiations went into the 80-page proposed agreement, said Frostburg City Administrator John Kirby.

“This isn’t something the company handed to us,” Kirby said. “Our primary concern was protecting the assets owned by citizens of Frostburg,” he said. The generator lead line will run under the streets and near homes and businesses, he said.

Everpower will pay the city $80,980 every 10 years, with half the first payment on commencement of construction and the second half 30 days after the project begins commercial operation. The payments will be adjusted in line with the consumer price index, Kirby said.

The agreement was negotiated on behalf of the city by Kirby, the city attorney and others. Kirby pointed out the city had no regulatory authority regarding the power transmission line or the project in general, but only the authority to negotiate an easement for Frostburg.

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

While company officials and lawyers for the PSC spoke at the Tuesday public hearing at the Cumberland Holiday Inn, none of the dozen or so members of the public chose to make a statement as the microphone on a stand placed in front of the hearing examiner stood silent.

PSC hearing examiner David Moore told the audience he’d wait until 8 p.m. before ending the hearing, in case anyone turned up late or changed their minds about speaking.

Both PSC lawyers and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources blessed the project, subject to the stipulations.

The agreement announced Tuesday at the hearing and now being considered by Moore formalizes environmental mitigation efforts planned by Big Savage LLC and a donation by the company to help rehabilitate Jennings Run.

Everpower ran a strong campaign to connect with landowners and other citizens, even going door to door to talk with property owners, said Harry Benson of Everpower.

“We went to great length to select a route compatible with viewshed protection and environmental concerns,” Benson said. The company has also agreed to build a scenic overlook just across the state line in Pennsylvania near the Big Savage tunnel.

Plans are for the line to run under a portion of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and other county-owned property.

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 seven miles in Frostburg and Allegany County, it will also link up with a Frostburg substation. The line is capable of carrying in excess of 69,000 volts, said Craig Taborsky, a PSC engineer.

The line would originate at the company’s Pennsylvania wind farm in Somerset County.

“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.

If all goes well, the project is expected to begin later this year and be complete by Oct. 31, 2012, according to PSC records.

The full text of the proposed agreement can be found online by a case number search for case number 9268 on the home page of the PSC at: http://webapp.psc.state.md.us/Intranet/home.cfm

The Frostburg easement agreement can be found at: http://www.frostburgcity.com/index.php?q=easement

Source:  Matthew Bieniek, Cumberland Times-News, times-news.com 31 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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