CUMBERLAND — U.S. Wind Force has received a county grading permit for a geotechnical investigation for a commercial wind energy conversion system and access roads near Vale Summit along the ridge of Dan’s Mountain.

The Allegany County Division of Land Development Services issued the permit July 31, one day after the application was submitted by CME Engineering in Frostburg on behalf of the newly formed Dans Mountain Wind Force LLC. Dans Mountain LLC is a subsidiary of U.S. Wind Force.

The area to be studied is off Dan’s Rock Road and View Point Lane, northeast of Burning Mines Road. From Dan’s Rock, the project would be routed about 2.5 miles north “as the crow flies,” said Joe Trainor, president of Dans Mountain Wind Force.

The project would include 25 wind turbines that are 2.5 megawatts each. The size of the project qualifies it for the fast-track approval process by the Maryland Public Service Commission.

The parcels of land, owned by multiple people and limited liability companies, total 2,956 acres. Some area property owners, including Loartown’s Frederick Loar, have sold development rights to U.S. Wind Force and have been receiving payments for years.

The largest parcel of 1,713 acres is owned by Cindy Blough, Leslie Forsythe and Marcine Blough, according to a statement from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. Another property, owned by Dans Mountain Sportsmans Club Inc., is 716 acres.

CME Engineering “submitted an application for a grading permit to go and do test borings in areas that they feel may be acceptable to build these (wind turbines) and the application was processed,” said Jim Squires, division chief of the county Land Development Services.

“They brought the plans in already signed by the Soil Conservation District,” Squires said. “For the most part, that’s all we need for the grading permit. We issued the permit.”

Squires said it’s the only permit that’s been applied for that could lead to a commercial wind energy system. The permit does have its restrictions.

“We made it clear to them there’s no zoning certification granted with this authorization to proceed,” Squires said.

CME Engineering will complete sediment erosion control tests “to see where it’s acceptable where they may put (turbines),” Squires said.

The area historically has been deep-mined and strip-mined for coal, Trainor said, so it’s “critical to have good soil samples” to ensure a viable foundation for the project.

Trainor said the company will conduct many of the environmental studies needed under normal regulatory approval. The company is committed to be “good environmental stewards,” Trainor said.

U.S. Wind Force was granted a two-year extension by the Maryland Public Service Commission in September 2007 for its proposed wind farm on Big Savage Mountain. That project is located near Lonaconing. The extension allows the company until March 2010 to build the 25 wind-generating turbines on the border of Garrett and Allegany counties. They are projected to produce about 40 megawatts of electricity.

Trainor said that project is “still viable.”

“Right now, we’re in the process of making it work economically for our company,” Trainor said.

Contact Kevin Spradlin at kspradlin@times-news.com.

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