Pioneer Green, the developer of the Great Bay Wind project, has known from the beginning placing an industrial wind project within the Atlantic Test Range would impede Patuxent Naval Air Station’s base operations, yet it persisted. In 2012, findings of the initial Massachussets Institute of Technology study established that turbine height limitations would allow for the operational co-existence of the Great Bay Wind projects without interference on base operations.
Despite this knowledge, Pioneer Green increased the height of the turbines from 400 feet to 599 feet.
Risking Patuxent Naval Air Stations operations and its 22,000 jobs is not the only obstacle. Somerset County is an integral part of the Atlantic flyway, a haven for bald eagles, who love the Chesapeake Bay. They choose this region for its idyllic habitat. Westover lies between the Pocomoke and Annemessex rivers, the eagles’ foraging area.
We know this, yet Pioneer Green has sited scores of 600-foot turbines directly between the two areas, which guarantees maximum carnage.
A mitigation plan to starve the bald eagles out of the project zone to keep annual kills at 20 will not work. Relocating it to an area with a limited eagle population would be smarter. To date, no industrial wind project in the United States has required a bald eagle take permit, yet this project is still being considered.
It seems obvious developing wind energy in this region reflects poor judgment.
This brings me to the third obvious obstacle: wind resource. Somerset’s wind resource is marginal, which equates to the least favorable place for wind development.
That is why Pioneer Green is planning colossal 3.6 megawatt turbines in Somerset communities.
Evidence shows industrial wind development is compatible with neither humans nor wildlife, and decimates the local environment. Somerset consists of sensitive wetlands and forests that are instrumental to buffer the Chesapeake.
Constructing these monstrosities, which require tons of embedded toxic materials, guarantees pollutants will leach into the bay.
Politicians are touting this project as an economic boon to Somerset County. This is misleading.
Areas that host wind development also host the highest electricity rates in the nation. Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester residents cannot afford to pay $300 for $200 worth of electricity.
The bulk of Somerset residents’ wealth is in the equity in their homes. Wind development reduces this value by 12 percent when the turbines are in view of the property, and much more when sited within two miles, resulting in unrecoverable losses to property owners who may discover their property is no longer marketable.
Lower property values reduce county tax revenue, which is the supposed reason for the project.
As for the claim that wind energy is clean and green, independent studies document wind energy is the worst way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Air quality measurements in turbine regions indicate no significant carbon dioxide reductions, because even when wind produces, a backup source must be ramping, because wind energy cannot be predicted.
Wind energy weakens the grid because the grid relies on predictability. Wind also varies in quality; this variance of speed controls the quality of energy.
Wind developers love to promote the output of wind turbines based on capacity, which is a far cry from reality. Industrial wind in the best wind resource areas produces at less than 30 percent capacity. Placing industrial wind in a low-resource area that impedes on Patuxent River’s operations, kills maximum wildlife and produces the least amount of energy makes poor sense.
Supporting industrial wind development without regard to these adverse realities makes politicians appear uneducated.
Tammy C. Truitt lives in Marion Station.