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State OKs funds for Crisfield wind turbine

ANNAPOLIS – Crisfield will receive $3.6 million – a $453,000 green loan and a $3.17 million green grant in the form of loan forgiveness – from the Water Quality State Revolving Loan Fund.

Funding for a 750-kilowatt wind turbine at Crisfield’s sewage treatment plant recently won approval from the Maryland Board of Public Works.

“This will get it started,” said Noah Bradshaw, the city inspector.

In January, the City Council awarded a contract to Bearing Construction Co. to build the turbine at the end of Dixon Street near the sewer plant. Construction is expected to start this spring.

City officials hope the turbine will save the city $150,000-$200,000 a year in electricity costs.

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 their radar systems across the Chesapeake Bay.

The turbine now planned for the 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 throughout 10,000 acres of Westover farmland.

The decision to set the matter aside came three weeks after officials from Pax River presented the findings of a new study about their conflicts with turbines.

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.