Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 25, 2013

Fourmile Ridge wind farm gets PSC approval

Building begins after Garrett issues permits

FROSTBURG — The Maryland Public Service Commission approved the Fourmile Ridge wind project on Wednesday.

Synergics is planning on constructing 24 wind turbines in two arrays with an eastern array located on the west side of Big Savage Mountain and western array located on Fourmile Ridge.

Construction will begin on the project as soon as the permits are issued by Garrett County, according to Frank Maisano, spokesman for the Synergics project.

The county has provided Bennett Brewer and Associates of Frostburg, the engineer of record for the project, comments on the sediment and erosion control plan as well as the stormwater management plan, according to Jim Torrington, chief of the Garrett County Permits and Inspections Division.

“There are a host of things that need to be added to plan; it needs a major revision,” said Torrington. “We are awhile out before a permit for activity can be issued.”

The project is also awaiting Federal Aviation Administration approval because there was an issue with the Grantsville VOR/DME system.

The FAA is proposing to decommission the Grantsville VOR/DME system and that request is under way, according to Maisano.

Ed Kelley, manager of the Garrett County Airport, and the Maryland Aviation Administration have expressed opposition to the plan to decommission the Grantsville VOR/DME system.

With Garrett County as an ideal spot for wind turbines, all of the projects will and do affect the safety and economic outlook of the Garrett County Airport, said Kelley in a letter to Melinda George of the FAA.

“Local economic growth and commerce could be lost by the proposed decommissioning causing additional economic hardships to Garrett and Allegany County Airport,” he wrote. “The region cannot afford to lose critical all weather, en route and terminal access in the National Airspace System.”

The PSC recommended that Fourmile Wind Energy LLC’s request of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity waiver application be granted but with conditions.

The conditions are similar to those that Synergics was required to meet when constructing the Roth Rock project, which prevented it from going into operation until such conditions were met.

The project raised concerns with environmentalist because a major portion — 75 percent — of  it is in the state’s designated “sensitive areas.”

Matt Brewer, a partner with Bennett Brewer and Associates, indicated during a PSC public hearing that the project was adjacent to those “sensitive areas.”

“We have been fully cognizant about that through the design process. We have very deliberately avoided impact to those areas,” said Brewer.

“We have completed numerous environmental studies and testing over the last three years and have incorporated those studies into the design.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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