Cumberland Times-News

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October 30, 2013

Fair Wind project looks to build 15 new turbines

OAKLAND — The Maryland Public Service Commission will hold a public hearing in November on an application for the Fair Wind project to construct up to 15 wind turbines on Backbone Mountain six miles south of Oakland.

Fair Wind Power Partners LLC filed the application Aug. 19 and is exempted from the requirement to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, according to PSC documents.

The project will consist of up to 30 megawatts of wind turbine generation and plans to use 2.0 to 2.5 MW wind turbines, which would require 12 to 15 wind turbines to achieve the output.

A meteorological tower permit was issued to Exelon Wind LLC in July, according to Jim Torrington, chief of the Garrett County Permits and Inspections Division. A temporary met tower was built in August, according to PSC documents. Torrington noted that last year, Fair Wind submitted a concept plan for review but hasn’t come back for a grading permit yet, which it will probably obtain after the hearing. A concept plan is the first of three required plan approvals that includes the necessary information to allow for an initial evaluation of a proposed project, according to the county’s stormwater ordinance. All plans for the project are expected this winter, according to Torrington.

Before wind turbines can be fully operational, the permits division has to issue a variety of additional permits, such as a grading permit, which can take up to a year, a building permit and certificate of use for each wind turbine.

The project is slated to start significant construction activities in early 2014 and hopes to begin commercial operation by the end of the year, according to PSC documents. Fair Wind must start construction within one year of PSC approval and must have at least one functioning wind turbine within two years.

Fair Wind is exempt from the state legislation that requires wind turbines in the county to comply with certain setbacks and decommissioning, because the project was already in the PJM queue, according to Torrington.

After consultation with the county and the Power Plant Research Program of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fair Wind has agreed to adhere to commitments regarding project construction and requirements that go beyond what the state code requires. Each wind park easement negotiated with a landowner will contain a provision for removal of the wind turbine and all concrete foundations to minimum depth of three feet upon termination of the easement, according to PSC documents.

Each easement also requires that Fair Wind post a removal bond during the first 10 years of commercial operation. The project will also be constructed and operated in compliance with all applicable state and local noise regulations.

Based on consultation with the PPRP and DNR, the project layout will remain 50 feet from state listed and uncommon plants, 50 feet from archaeological features, 25 feet from wetland areas and 50 feet from potential rock vole habitat, according to PSC documents.

Exelon Wind, a wholly owned subsidiary of Exelon, purchased Fair Wind and the development rights to the facility from Clipper Windpower Development Co., LLC in February. The Fair Wind project was originally proposed by Clipper to be part of the 101 MW Allegheny Heights wind project.

The public hearing on the application will be held Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Garrett College auditorium.

Public comments must be submitted by Nov. 21. Written comments referencing Case No. 9334 must be sent to David J. Collins, executive secretary to the PSC, William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202-6806. 

The county is also getting closer to approving permits for the Synergics Fourmile Ridge project in the eastern part of the county. Synergics has submitted its grading plan for the third time but no building permits have been issued yet, according to Torrington.

The project has gone beyond the 60-day appeal process for the Federal Aviation Administration’s interim decision in February that all 24 proposed wind turbines are presumed to be a hazard to air navigation. Synergics has not resubmitted the project to the FAA, according to Torrington.

The PSC approved the project in April and granted a CPCN waiver with conditions that include construction within a year of its approval and at least one functioning wind turbine within two years.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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