Local React to Wind Farm Construction Delay; Lawmaker Speaks Out - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Locals React to Wind Farm Construction Delay; Lawmaker Speaks Out

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Westover, Md.- The Maryland Senate approves legislation to delay construction of a new wind farm in Somerset County.
 
House Bill 1168 would give researchers more time to study how wind turbines would impact the radar system at Patutxent River's Naval Air Station.

Texas-based developer Pioneer Green is behind the $200 million project. Developers want to bring clean, renewable energy to Somerset County.

Developers hoped to move forward with construction this year, but under HB 1168, the Great Bay Wind Energy project would be delayed until next summer. Developers along with some lawmakers said it would have brought more jobs and revenue to the county.

In a statement, Senator Jim Mathias said "Sadly, this action of the Maryland General Assembly likely cost the citizens of Somerset County a $40-$45 million dollar loss in economic impact. I am dedicated and will continue working to correct this action for citizens of Somerset County."

Tammy Truitt, who lives a little more than one mile from one of a few proposed sites for the turbines, supports the delay.

She said she is worried about the safety of wildlife and possible interference with Pax River's radar system.

" There are 30 bald eagles' nest within 10 miles of the project, and that's just guarantees bald eagle kills," said Truitt before addressing her fears for the naval air station's radar system.  "22,000 people are employed by the Patuxent Naval Air Station and it will be threatening those jobs."
 
Truitt said she is concerned about proposed placements for the wind turbines.

" These 600 foot machines are being placed less than 700 feet from our roadways and every child that attends Somerset Intermediate School is going to have to ride through the turbine zone to reach school," she said.

Ryan Taylor, an associate professor of biology at Salisbury University who also studies sound production, said turbines in residential areas can be noisy. He said it could prevent people from sleeping well.

" Those noise levels are equivalent to a neighbor mowing their lawn, all night, every night next door," Taylor said.

Developers said they negotiated with the Navy and Pax River. They agreed to turn the turbines off when testing is underway at the station.

In a statement, Paul Harris, a development manager with the company said, "We are disappointed that, despite our extensive efforts to work with the Navy and Patuxent River to ensure that our wind farm would not interfere with the military, the legislature still decided to impose this unnecessary moratorium on clean energy projects."

Harris went on to say "if the moratorium goes into effect, the project will lose out on some crucial tax benefits and miss important interconnection deadlines, making it extremely difficult to move forward with our investment."

HB 1168 is headed to Governor Martin O'Malley's office.

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