Garrett approves revised wind farm project plans
— OAKLAND — On Tuesday county officials approved a revised project plan for a proposed Garrett wind farm, putting developer Constellation Energy one step closer to building an electrical substation and 28 wind turbines atop Backbone Mountain near Eagle Rock.
The Maryland Department of the Environment halted work last week on the site of a planned electrical substation along Eagle Rock Road due to issues with water runoff and erosion controls. MDE spokeswoman Dawn Stoltzfus said an erosion and sediment control fence at the site had been improperly installed, and the project plan was inadequate to handle the volume of water flowing from the site.
The Garrett Soil Conservation District’s approval of Constellation’s revised plan is the first step toward resuming construction. Stoltzfus said she expected the silt fence would be fixed Tuesday and an MDE inspector will visit the site Wednesday to look over the changes and give the necessary approval to proceed.
Crews began clearcutting timber and building access roads on the substation site in mid-March. Clearcutting and other preliminary work has continued at the proposed wind turbine sites, strung along the mountain ridge northeast of the substation site.
Stoltzfus said MDE is investigating whether or not to bring penalties against Constellation.
The Garrett Soil Conservation District’s decision came on the same day that county residents and Constellation representatives spoke in support of the project at the Garrett County Commission meeting.
David Wagner, manager of the Commercial Analysis Group with Constellation Energy, said afterward that he plans to attend commission meetings regularly to keep a close connection with the community as the project moves forward.
Marvin White, a farm owner who said four turbines are planned for his property, told the commission he supports the project because it will create well-paid jobs and allow the county to produce clean energy.
“A lot of people are against these wind turbines, but do you want to build a nuclear powerhouse or a big coal powerhouse up there? Which would you rather see?” White said. “This county was built on cutting timber and coal mining.”
But other neighbors have voiced their opposition to the project, especially since construction work began in recent weeks.
Eric Robison, whose Eagle Rock Road home sits nearly adjacent to the substation site, filed a formal public information request with the county on Tuesday seeking documents including a copy of the site plan overview and the county’s review of the Constellation project under the Garrett County Sensitive Areas Ordinance.
Robison, who owns a construction company, said he’s concerned that the project plans have not been thoroughly reviewed by county, state and federal officials for their environmental impact on those areas.
Under state law, county officials have 30 days to respond to the information request.
Constellation Energy plans to build 28 wind turbines atop Backbone Mountain in Garrett County. The state Department of the Environment stopped work last week due to issues with water runoff and erosion controls.
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