OAKLAND — Two Garrett County wind power projects, the first such in Maryland, are expected to begin commercial operation in a matter of weeks, even as opponents consider taking legal action against the facilties.

A 20-turbine wind farm atop Backbone Mountain at Roth Rock is set to become operational by the end of December, according to Frank Maisano, a wind industry spokesman.

Synergics, the Annapolis-based developer of the Roth Rock project, filed notice with the Maryland Public Service Commission on Nov. 9 that it intended to begin exporting electricity from the facility as early as next week.

Electricity is often generated before a wind power facility officially enters commercial operation, as turbines are tested and systems go online, Maisano explained.

“The project will be undergoing testing, probably in the next two weeks or so,” he said. “That’s why that (filing) is there with the PSC.”

A 28-turbine facility, this one a Constellation Energy project built near Eagle Rock, is also set to become operational by the end of December. But Constellation spokesman Kevin Thornton said Tuesday that it could enter commercial operation as soon as the first week of December.

“We can't say that officially, but it’s going extremely smoothly,” Thornton said. “It’s really been much better than we had even anticipated. The weather has cooperated with us.”

The Constellation turbines are grouped into three sections, and the project will go online one section at a time.

“They’ll just keep spinning, and eventually all 28 of them will be spinning at once,” Thornton said.

But in Garrett County, project opponents are considering pursuing legal action to delay or derail the operation of the wind farms.

Eric Robison, a member of opposition group Save Western Maryland, said Tuesday that they intend to take one or both of the developers to court over alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act.

Save Western Maryland previously file letters of intent to sue both Constellation and Synergics unless the developers sought incidental take permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The permit effectively protects developers from violating the Act by creating a plan in advance to deal with the possibility that endangered wildlife could be harmed by a project.

According to the group, the wind projects will adversely affect Indiana bats and Virginia big-eared bats, both classified as federal endangered species.

Contact Megan Miller at mmiller@times-news.com.

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