Company pursues study for tower on St. John’s Rock; By 2013, Western Md. could have more wind turbines
OAKLAND – Western Maryland may see more wind turbines pop up along the ridges.
The Garrett County Permits and Inspections Division issued a meteorological tower permit last month to Synergics for a tower on St. John’s Rock at Four Mile Ridge between Avilton and Frostburg, according to Jim Torrington, chief of the division.
Synergics is doing an environmental wind study on Four Mile Ridge and is proposing 20 to 24 wind turbines, according to Frank Maisano, a wind industry spokesman.
Maisano estimated that at the earliest the project could be completed in 2013, but more likely it would be later.
The Roth Rock project on Backbone Mountain was started by Synergics, but is now owned by Gestamp Wind North America of Houston. Maisano described it as well-done and said there has been minimum invasiveness to the land.
“It’s certainly not obtrusive-looking,” said Maisano. “Once people see the wind projects and get used to them, they will see there wasn’t anything to be afraid of.”
Roth Rock was cited for erosion control violations by the Maryland Department of the Environment during its construction and a resident opposition group, Save Western Maryland, filed letters of intent to sue Synergics unless the developers created a plan to deal with the possibility that endangered wildlife could be harmed by the project.
In October, the county also issued a met tower permit to EDP Renewables North America (Horizon Wind Energy) for the Winding Ridge project near Friendsville.
Met towers measure the amount of wind at a proposed wind turbine site for at least a year, according to a Wind Power: Resource Assessment fact sheet. The towers have different siting requirements than the turbines, and occasionally the met tower is not put in the same place as the proposed wind turbine site.
Before wind turbines can be fully operational, the permits division has to issue a variety of additional permits, such as a grading permit, which can take up to a year, a building permit and certificate of use for each wind turbine, according to Torrington.
The permits division also has to issue a final certification, which requires copies of certification of the man lifts within each tower; all reports concerning concrete testing, grouting, torquing, mechanical and electrical testing and completion; and any Maryland Department of Natural Resources reports that are completed, said Torrington. A man lift is used to take equipment and personnel up to the wind turbine for repair and maintenance.
The county is awaiting final inspection on Roth Rock and the Criterion project, owned by Constellation Energy and also operational on Backbone Mountain, before releasing the stormwater bonds, said Torrington in an email with the Times-News.
Certificates of use were approved with the condition that all stormwater requirements be completed like as-built drawings and final inspections be completed, according to Torrington.
“The county still holds a stormwater bond on both projects,” said Torrington.
In December, County Commissioner Gregan Crawford encouraged his colleagues to support the development of zoning laws that would regulate future wind projects in the county. “We need to start the dialogue on how we can control noise and flicker,” he said in response to an update by the county’s planning director on proposed wind turbine projects.
At that time, the county also had a request from Clipper Windpower Development for a met tower to be installed just north of U.S. Route 50 for the Fair Winds project proposed on Backbone Mountain.
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