One can always hear a great “spin” in a story, particularly when the authors are activists for a cause. I refer to the commentary concerning wind turbines in Somerset County (“A wind-win situation,” April 21). Authors Tom Vinson and Bruce Burcat are paid individuals whose job is to promote wind and renewable energy regardless of some factual information.
First, the $200 million dollar project is a number that has somehow appeared with little actual data behind it. Sounds good though. Similarly, the $44 million in future tax revenues is generated over a 40-year period, so a little over $1 million per year. Jobs generated, at best, might be 5-to-10 full-time jobs at project completion.
Compare that to Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Annual revenue generation, in excess of $6 billion (that’s billion, not million) and more than 41,000 jobs. The tax revenue to Maryland? Well, I can’t count quickly that high but I’ll bet it’s a bit more than $1 million per year.
HB 1168 legislation isn’t to ban the turbines but to allow time to determine where and if common usage is possible. Clearly, we support renewable energy but this all about height and location. The legislation clearly sets guidelines on turbine height in proximity to a very critical national asset radar system, one that only exists at Pax River. The further from the radar viewshed, the taller they become. What many fail to recognize is the millions of dollars being spent to better understand the technologies. To date, as has been stated, there are no proven solutions to mitigate the adverse effects of wind turbines.
What isn’t brought up is the proposed turbine locations just happen to be near transmission facilities. Bottom line, the turbines can likely be placed at other spots, but the developer’s cost to transfer the power to the grid increases and profits go down. Not to mention the massive subsidies that will be garnered by tax credits.
Lastly, the authors focus on climate change and rising seas. Yes, the Patuxent River Naval Air Station is located at the mouth of the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay. Has anyone bothered to look at where Baltimore is located? Rising seas, years to go. Let’s focus on the immediate threat to bald eagles and other birds. The proposed wind farms are being fast-tracked through state and federal permitting processes. The 30-year taking permit will likely result in the largest taking of bald eagles in the history of our nation. What a lasting legacy.
In summation, HB 1168 is a reasonable compromise to allow for a measured and scientific analysis of the effects of wind turbines and national defense assets. This study could provide data that could greatly support other renewable energy initiatives. Gov. Martin O’Malley should also consider this on a national level and allow the bill to become law.
Todd B. Morgan, Leonardtown
The writer is a St. Mary’s County Commissioner.
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