I read with interest the article in the Cumberland Times-News entitled, “By 2013, Western Md. could have more wind turbines” (Jan. 9, Page 1A), by Elaine Blaisdell.
It stated that, “The Roth Rock project on Backbone Mountain was started by Synergics, but is now owned by Gestamp Wind North America of Houston.”
That is true, but your readers should know that Gestamp Wind is a multinational company based in Spain. Furthermore, the 20 Nordex Wind N90 turbines were made by another multinational company based in Germany.
These power plants are often built by smaller limited liability companies (LLC) that sell them to larger, sometimes foreign, corporations for their generous tax breaks. Taxpayers and electric customers are forced to pick up the tab.
Another interesting tidbit of information is that 80 percent of Roth Rock’s power output is sold to Delmarva Power, under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA), while the remaining 20 percent will be sold under two PPAs with dependent state entities, the University System of Maryland and the Maryland Department of General Services.
Wayne Rogers, the governor’s good friend, is president of Synergics. You can make what you want of this relationship and the governor’s support of wind energy.
What’s more, Frank Maisano, a wind salesman, described the Roth Rock project as well-done and said there has been minimum invasiveness to the land.
Mr. Maisano was quoted as saying, “It’s certainly not obtrusive-looking. Once people see the wind projects and get used to them, they will see there wasn’t anything to be afraid of.”
Well, I would urge you not to rely upon Mr. Maisano for accurate information. These projects are quite destructive of the land, requiring clearing miles of ridgeline for roads, turbine pads, etc.
Many acres of forestland that previously provided habitats for numerous wildlife species are often lost, and thousands of bats and birds are killed at these projects each year.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says 60 acres are likely needed per installed megawatt, or approximately 3,000 acres for a 20, 2.5-MW turbine, wind power plant.
Erosion, disruption of water flow, and destruction of wild habitat and plant life would continue with the presence of access roads, powerlines, transformers, and the tower sites themselves.
For a more honest appraisal, talk to folks living near these projects to see if people are getting used to them, as Mr. Maisano says.
You may get used to living near a pig farm, sewage treatment facility, junk yard, or dump; but, most folks would not intentionally move to one.
Gregan Crawford, a Garrett County commissioner, says that the Backbone project is noisy and that he can hear the turbines at his house 3/4 mile away. A major problem is that noise levels cannot be predicted before developing a site.
Unfortunately, there are still no controls in place to regulate wind turbines in Garrett County; hopefully, this situation will change.
J. Edward Gates
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