A bill that would delay a proposed wind farm in Somerset County was not on a list of legislation signed into law Thursday morning by Gov. Martin O’Malley, and its future remains uncertain.
The bill-signing event was the last one scheduled this year, and the governor has not announced if he plans to veto House Bill 1168 or allow it to become law without his signature.
“We remain hopeful he’s going to veto it,” said Adam Cohen, vice president of wind developer Pioneer Green. “That’s all we’re focused on.”
O’Malley has not yet made a decision on the bill, said Nina Smith, the governor’s spokeswoman.
“He’s still having conversations with the stakeholders,” she said.
The bill was introduced in January by the Southern Maryland Delegation whose members fear the large scale turbines planned for Somerset County will interfere with radar systems in St. Mary’s County at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River – a huge employer in the area that officials fear may relocate because of the turbines.
The bill would delay the start of the project until July 1, 2015, when a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is completed.
Cohen said if the bill becomes law, it will be impossible to move the project forward. In order to capture production tax credits, the wind farm would have to be in operation by the end of 2015, and six months is not enough time to accomplish that, he said.
Over the past two years, the company has gotten 70 signed agreements with about 200 landowners in an area that extends from Marion Station to Westover, Cohen said.
The plan calls for 50 wind turbines to be erected during two phases of construction.
While the wind farm has wide support among local elected officials and residents, Safe For Somerset, a grassroots organization opposed to the project, has raised concerns about how it might affect the environment, the health of nearby residents and the general quality of life.
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