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Wind Energy Project to Move Forward Despite Objections from the Pentagon

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WESTOVER, Md.- The company behind a proposed wind energy project remains committed to moving forward, despite recent objections rendered in a letter from the Department of Defense.

According to Democratic Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5), the Department of Defense (DoD) formally objected to building 25 wind turbines in the Westover area in a letter on Thursday.

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work signed the letter that said the project would " significantly impair or degrade the capability of the Department of Defense to conduct research, development, testing and evaluation or to maintain military readiness." 

Congressman Hoyer  addressed the department's concerns last week.

“The Department of Defense objected to the proposed Great Bay Wind project on the grounds that it poses a significant threat to the mission and world-class stealth radar system at Patuxent River Naval Air Station,” Congressman Hoyer said. “This is a critical development in our efforts to protect Pax River and the 22,000 jobs it supports.”

According to a letter, sent from Pioneer Green Energy to the Federal Aviation Administration,  developers spent months negotiating ways to mitigate DoD concerns. Adam Cohen, vice president of Pioneer Green Energy, tells WBOC in a statement "the Navy has never presented any data to contradict the agreement they originally approved, and this action appears to be driven more by politics than an honest attempt to honor the landowners' constitutional rights."

Project Manager Paul Harris said the letter is an opinion submitted to the FAA, which has not made a final decision on the project. Therefore, he said "we remain committed to moving forward, bringing new private investment, jobs, tax revenues and clean energy to the Lower Shore."  Harris said the company has completed a  number of studies on the project, including  economic impact. 

Robert Hess  is one of several leaseholders under this project. He owns a little more than 700 acres of land and hopes the project gets approved.

"I think the green energy benefit will be as positive as what I myself will benefit," Hess said. "I think everyone will benefit from the clean energy part of it," Hess said.

Dr. Randolph George, who would live near two wind turbines, does not want to see the project come to life.

"It will ruin our county. It will change the beauty we have here," Dr. George said. " It is the reason that most of us live here." 

Last week, Somerset County's Planning and Zoning Commission approved final recommendations for the project in a vote 3-1. Members of the commission agreed to increase the height restriction for the turbines from 400 ft to 575 ft.

Commission members will submit final recommendations to county commissioners Wednesday.

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