Cumberland Times-News

January 15, 2013

Wind developer wants to fast-track PSC approval

Synergics seeking waiver of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— FROSTBURG — Annapolis-based Synergics, developer of the proposed Fourmile Ridge wind project in eastern Garrett County, is seeking fast-track approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission.

On Monday, Synergics Wind Energy LLC and Fourmile Wind Energy LLC filed a request for a waiver of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity requirements for a tap line to serve the project, according to the PSC filing. Synergics is requesting the waiver be granted by April 1 to allow construction to begin immediately on the line.

“In fact, in order to meet Synergics’ schedule, construction needs to begin by the beginning of April,” said the PSC filing. “It would not be possible to meet this deadline if a full CPCN proceeding were required.”

The tap line will be less than 300 feet, which is shorter than what the PSC approved for the Roth Rock wind project on Backbone Mountain, according to the PSC filing.

“The interconnection tap and the first position of the new line will be located entirely on rights of way already owned by First Energy,” said the PSC filing.

“The existing easements allows for additional wires and structures. The remainder of the line between the tap and the Fourmile Substation will be within an easement that Synergics obtained for the benefit of First Energy in perpetuity.”

First Energy will own the line and construction costs for the line are estimated to be between $230,000 and $260,000, which will be paid by Synergics.

The project has been listed on the PJM website since 2008 and is waiting on a PJM Generation Interconnection Request that looks at how the project will affect the electrical grid, and the request appears to be in the final stages,  said Jim Torrington, chief of the Garrett County Permits and Inspections Division.

The project intends to begin delivering wind-generated power into the PJM system by Dec. 31, according to the PSC filing.

Synergics is also waiting on Federal Aviation Administration approval for determination of no hazard to air navigation, which is needed before the county can issue a building permit.

Synergics has submitted both a concept plan and site development plan, which are under review. Both plans are part of the county’s stormwater management ordinance requirements, according to Torrington. The ordinance requires three phases of submissions.

“It’s a pretty big project. I don’t know how long it will take to review it,” said Torrington. “There are a lot of questions already based on a week of review.”

Also on Monday, Fourmile Wind Energy LLC filed a request for approval with the PSC to construct up to 24 wind turbines along Fourmile Ridge and the western slope of Big Savage Mountain.

Synergics also built a wind power farm on Backbone Mountain.

County commissioners have requested legislation that will address wind turbine setbacks during the 2013 General Assembly. The language is similar to last year’s proposed bill, according to County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt.

During a commission meeting in June, the commissioners came to an impasse on how to proceed with a draft land use management ordinance, a portion of which deals with wind turbine setbacks.

The ordinance was tabled so discussion could occur with the local legislative delegation.

Delegate Wendell Beitzel said during a November commission meeting that passing the bill would protect the neighboring properties if a turbine would fall.

“Garrett County is the path of least resistance. That’s why they (wind developers) are going to keep coming here,” said Commissioner Gregan Crawford during a December commission meeting. “If we don’t take responsibility to manage these things ourselves, they are going to continue to show up and have impacts to local citizens who have lived here all of their life.”

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at The Associated Press contributed to this story.