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Are industrial wind turbines coming to Kent County?  

Credit:  The Chestertown Spy | February 26, 2015 | chestertownspy.org ~~

It has been almost a year since the Kent County News published a front-page article announcing Apex Clean Energy plans to establish an industrial wind turbine farm near Kennedyville. So where does this project stand today? In the article, Tyson Utt, an Apex development director stated that 25 to 45 wind turbines up to 500 feet tall would be erected if wind conditions were found favorable and land leases were obtained.

Industrial turbines of this height are required to be registered with the FAA, which studies their locations for possible impact on aviation safety.

Since that article was written, the total number of industrial wind turbines have increased to 49, at a height of 497 feet as shown in the FAA Project Listing together with their map coordinates on 32 properties. A recent Kent County tax map shows seven of these turbines would be located on land owned by Angelica Nursery near Chesterville, and two turbines would be located on land owned by former Kent County Commissioner Roy Crow.

Further announcements by Apex state that leases for the project, identified as the Mills Branch Wind Energy Project, have been negotiated with landowners, and the project is forecast to be completed by 2016.

While details of industrial wind turbine leases are kept secret by the wind power industry, landowners could reap as much as $30,000 per turbine annually, plus a percentage of the energy sold during the typical 30-year life of their lease. The greatest (and most vocal) advocates going forward for this ugly blight will without a doubt be those landowners with early Apex leases.

This is a typical strategy by the industry to assure a motivated base of local support.

Who gains? Certainly the landowners as well as Apex investors reaping US and Maryland tax incentives funded by taxpayers, which includes you and me. Some would say Kent County needs clean energy. Well, the electrical output is fed into the Mid-Atlantic Regional Transmission Grid operated by PJM and sold to the highest bidder. Don’t expect lower rates. Kent County will gain tax revenues from the capital improvement, which will decline as the installation depreciates over several decades. Decreased tax revenues from residents with properties devalued due to the turbines will offset this gain. Local hires for construction will add temporary jobs. Some low level of staffing by Turbine Maintenance Technicians (know any in this county?) will be required and likely supplied by out-of-state contractors.

Who loses? With a forest of wind turbines visible up to 25 miles away, Kent County tourism will no longer enjoy its scenic resource, and historic properties and homeowners can expect a hit on property values. The 49 wind turbines of this industrial power project will dominate the Mid-Atlantic skyline reaching almost as high as Baltimore’s tallest building, the Transamerica Tower. Our eagles and bats are in danger.

Powerful forces will be aligning against the citizens of Kent County in spite of our strong zoning laws restricting the height of turbines, and their direct opposition to the vision of our Comprehensive Plan. The Maryland Energy Office has a full-time Wind Energy Project Manager and staff whose mission is to harness Maryland’s governmental power to facilitate wind developers in getting approvals for their projects. Our 32 local landowners with turbine leases and their families, having great monetary incentives, will line up behind Apex and put up a furious fight to move this project forward. Apex held a meeting with area farmers in Galena on February 25 with details of their project. It was announced that they have 3500 acres already committed and they intend to begin the permitting process in the next several months.

Other green energy sources less obtrusive, such as solar, are available and desirable for Kent County. It’s time for us to find out where our Commissioners and the County Administrator stand on the Mills Branch Wind Energy project

William Graham, P.E.
Keep Kent Scenic
Galena, Maryland

Source:  The Chestertown Spy | February 26, 2015 | chestertownspy.org

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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