CRISFIELD – Construction of a 750-kilowatt wind turbine next to Crisfield’s sewage treatment could begin as soon as April after City Council members this week awarded a $3.2 million contract for the work.
Bearing Construction Co. was awarded the contract after submitting the lowest of three bids.
The next step will be to finalize the paperwork with the Maryland Department of the Environment, which is funding most of the project, said Jason Loar, an engineer with Salisbury firm Davis, Bowen & Friedel. After that, it will need approval from the state’s Board of Public Works, and if it on the board’s March agenda, construction could start soon after that.
City officials plan to place the turbine at the end of Dixon Street to provide power to the sewer plant and save the city $150,000 to $200,000 a year.
“I believe it will be a pilot project for wind on the Eastern Shore,” Loar told council members.
Construction is expected to take nine months to complete, Loar said.
Although the turbine is expected to generate more than enough electricity to power the sewer plant, it must still connect to the grid since the plant needs a consistent source of electricity, and the turbine’s output could fluctuate depending on how windy it is, officials have said. The city also can sell the excess electricity back to the grid.
The project has been scaled down from its original design after officials at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary’s County expressed concerns that turbines will interfere with radar systems.
The turbine now planned for a site will be under the 300-foot height limit set by the Navy.
Meanwhile, plans to build a wind farm in Somerset County were put on hold indefinitely after County Commissioners in October tabled adoption of an ordinance that would allow installation of industrial turbines over 10,000 acres of Westover farmland.
The decision to set the matter aside came three weeks after officials with Naval Air Station Patuxent River presented the findings of a new study that detailed how large-scale wind energy systems could interfere with radar systems at the base across the Chesapeake Bay in St. Mary’s County.
Since wind farm developers would need to get approval from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Maryland Public Service Commission before they begin construction, commissioners said they feared the Navy would try to veto any projects.
Officials also have seen opposition to the ordinance from a group of residents in Marion Station who are concerned about whether turbines can create health problems for people living within a close proximity to the structures.
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