CUMBERLAND – Dan’s Mountain Wind Force LLC has asked the Maryland Public Service Commission to allow more time for the company to begin construction of about 25 wind turbines atop that prominent Allegany County ridgeline.
In a July 31 document, the energy developer asked the PSC to extend the existing Sept. 12 construction-start deadline to Dec. 31, 2014, and asked to be placed on the agency’s Aug. 28 meeting agenda.
The turbines are proposed for Dan’s Mountain on about 1,700 acres described as being four miles southeast of Frostburg and seven miles southwest of Cumberland. The plan is to produce up to 69.6 megawatts of energy.
More than once in the request, the company suggests that the current Allegany County commissioners are more receptive to wind turbine development than was the previous administration.
“There has been a complete turnover of Allegany County’s commissioners,” the company wrote. “The former composition had promulgated stringent zoning regulations apparently designed to inhibit the development of wind power projects in the county.”
DMWF plans to appeal existing county setback regulations.
The setbacks are graduated depending upon the height of the turbine. For example, a turbine higher than 300 feet would be required to be 900 feet from a property line. With approval of affected property owners, that distance can be reduced by up to 50 percent.
In addition, turbines must be 2,000 feet from an occupied residence.
The sitting board of commissioners “appears to continue to be more favorably disposed to wind energy development,” the company stated in its request to PSC.
“I don’t know where they get that,” said Commission President Michael McKay on Tuesday morning. “This set of commissioners is not going to be getting into undoing or trying to change requirements already set. The community has already had that conversation.
“This issue was put to rest by the previous board. It’s not on our agenda,” McKay said.
To make the project feasible, 10 adjacent or nearby residents and 14 property owners who have communication towers have to agree.
“While the negotiations are as yet ongoing, in light of the initial responses we are getting, I am confident that Dan’s Mountain will be able to obtain a sufficient number of written authorizations to make the project viable,” wrote David K. Friend, CEO of Laurel Renewable Partners LLC, the owner of Dan’s Mountain Wind Force.
The company reports that it spent $3.1 million thus far on the project, $337,000 since May to catch up with rental payments to property owners.
DMWF stopped making those payments in June 2012 because of the financial climate and the loss of a business partner that went bankrupt, the request points out.
The company told the PSC that an extension would allow tree clearing to begin early in 2014. It is possible that trees would not be cut during the summer because they are habitat for roosting bats, according to the developer.
DMWF has entered into a new agreement, this one with Exelon, for development of the local project. Eventually, Chicago-based Exelon would purchase the operation.