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Md. regulators block proposed 59.5-MW wind farm


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Md. regulators block proposed 59.5-MW wind farm

The Maryland Public Service Commission has denied a construction permit for a proposed 59.5-MW wind farm because it deemed the expected benefits insufficient to offset potential adverse impacts.

Dan's Mountain Wind Force LLC, a subsidiary of Laurel Renewable Partners, applied Jan. 14, 2016, for a certificate of public convenience and necessity, or CPCN, to build 17 turbines across 2,800 acres in Allegany County, Md., through which the Allegheny mountains run.

"Overall, in weighing the benefits against the adverse impacts that are unable to be mitigated by incorporating licensing conditions into the CPCN grant, I find that benefits that may accrue to the public at large by construction of the wind projects do not justify or offset subjecting the local community to the adverse impacts that will result from the wind project's construction and operation," PSC Chief Public Utility Law Judge Terry Romine wrote in a proposed order Jan. 24.

The proposed order becomes final Feb. 25, unless an appeal is filed prior to that date, Romine said in the order.

One adverse impact highlighted in the order is the effect on the aesthetics of the local community. The order also mentions that the project offers a "temporary, short-term economic benefit" to the county and state from the construction and operation of the wind farm, but "very slight" economic benefit from the useful life of the project.

Laurel Renewable Partners said in June 2016 that the Dan’s Mountain Wind Farm project was supposed to be built in 2009 but faced local opposition from the zoning board and residents of Allegany County. Dan's Mountain had applied for an exemption from the county's wind energy commercial system ordinance, which specified set-back and land-use requirements, but the county's Board of Zoning Appeals denied the special exemption application. The denial prompted the developer to apply to the PSC and request that the PSC's decision override the county's decision.

The project also faced opposition from Allegany Neighbors and Citizens for Home Owners Rights Ltd., a nonprofit citizens group. The PSC received about 600 written comments and held several public hearings on the project in 2016. (Case No. 9413)