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Sacrifice 40,000 jobs for seven? Put wind farm on hold

Regarding The Sun’s editorial asking Gov. Martin O’Malley to veto a bill that would delay approval of a wind farm in Somerset County (“Gone with the wind farm?” April 20), I take offense at you describing industrial turbines as “windmills.” That’s like calling a mountain lion a house cat.

Next, when there were 60 turbines in the project a year ago, there were 500 construction jobs and 14.6 permanent jobs. Now that it has been changed to 29 turbines (or 25 depending on who is giving you the numbers), the figures seem to remain the same. There’s something stinky in Denmark somewhere. Also, they stated that Somerset County would receive $40 million worth of revenue over the life of the project. Since the landowners must sign a 35-year lease, that comes to about $1.14 million each year. Now in May of 2012, Adam Cohen of Pioneer Green stated that Somerset County would receive as much as $3.2 million a year in revenue.

Now, once the turbines have been constructed, the 500 construction jobs go away and if 60 turbines would have produced 14.6 permanent jobs, then that means that this would at least be changed to 7.3 permanent jobs. If Great Bay intends to train those 7.3 people, as certainly these people would need to be skilled workers, all is well and good, but if they have to “hit the ground running” as would normally be expected, my opinion is that they will be brought in from out of state (probably from Wisconsin or Massachusetts or Maine or one of the other states that already have wind farms) to perform those 7.3 jobs.

The next item of discussion concerns the non-participating residents of Somerset County. If Somerset County wants to create jobs and make money for the participating landowners, they at least need to have some concern for those of us who will have to live among the turbines simply because we live in the AR (agricultural/residential) zoning district of the county, which by the way is probably two-thirds of the county. Since Somerset County doesn’t have the time, the personnel or the money to rezone the AR district’s rural residential areas, we must deal with this problem some other way.

At this time, if the currently proposed zoning ordinance remains in place, we will have industrial turbines as close as 750-to-1,000 feet from our home’s foundation. This is not fair and this is not safe. We will request a revised amendment to the ordinance creating at least a 2,640-to-3,500 foot setback from property lines and not residential foundations and will require the same for our schools, churches, day care facilities and hospitals.

Now, last but certainly not least, we have Patuxent River Naval Air Station. This air station has been in operation for a very long period of time keeping our country on the edge of aerial technology and has thousands of employees working at this base. Since only 7.3 jobs will be added to Somerset County, and those jobs will most certainly be from out-of-state, the best Somerset County is going to have will be 500 construction and laborer positions for the length of the construction over maybe nine months at most. If Great Bay and Somerset County legislators have their way, $1.4 million dollars annually will be added to the county’s coffers. Pax River might then be in a fix – to possibly lose 40,000 jobs associated with the base. Where does this put the state of Maryland? Does 7.3 jobs equal 40,000 jobs? If Maryland gets a wind farm on the Eastern Shore but loses a considerable chunk of skilled jobs to another state leaving thousands of our state’s residents without jobs, what does that say for the Great State of Maryland?

These things must be pondered. If the U.S. Navy signs an agreement and the agreement fails to be honored by the wind company for some reason or another, the Navy will just pick up its marbles and move them elsewhere. Then we have a wind farm and no Pax River mission nor jobs. As a resident of Maryland, I think having another 13 months to finish a study and possibly find some creative solutions to the Doppler radar issues would be good for Pax River and Somerset County.

Winning the battle but losing the war is clearly not good for Maryland.

E. J. Monheiser, Marion Station