Maryland Department of the Environment orders Constellation Energy to immediately cease work at wind farm.

From the Industrial Wind Action Group

March 24, 2010 in The Republican(Garrett County Maryland)

Work began in earnest this past week in clearing forest land near Eagle Rock just south of Deer Park for the erection of over two dozen 400-plus-foot wind turbines, the first to be erected in Garrett County.

The project calls for the placement of 28 turbines along that section of Backbone Mountain, with an additional 17 in the Roth Rock area of the same mountain ridge, just south of Red House.

Startled residents in the Eagle Rock area, some located within just 15 or 20 feet of the project, used words such as “shocked” and “horrified” when they were awakened by the sound of chainsaws, trucks, dozers, and massive excavating machines felling thousands of trees adjacent to their properties. Several acres of forestland timber were leveled within a matter of a few days.

The project, however, came to an abrupt halt Tuesday after one of the residents – who happens to be a contractor -suggested that the work was being done in a manner that was not in compliance with state environmental law.

“I don’t think they counted on someone living up there who knows all about such things as excavation and building permits,” said Eric Robison, who recently constructed his own new home close to the site.

Evidently Robison’s concerns were legitimate, as the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) ordered Constellation Energy and the contractor, All Construction Inc., Mt. Storm, W.Va., to immediately cease any further grading or disturbance activities, take corrective action to eliminate the discharge of sediment-laden water, and submit to the Garrett Soil Conservation District a revised erosion and sediment control plan to address the current plan’s sediment control deficiencies.

More specifically, according to MDE information office spokesperson Jay Apperson, a super silt fence was not properly installed at least eight inches below the ground surface, and consequently sediment laden water was flowing under and around the fence.

In addition, he said, the volume of water flow on the site appears to be much greater than the controls required by the current erosion and sediment control plan can effectively handle to prevent significant sediment flow off site.

Melisa and Justin Carrico, who reside directly across the street from the site where a high-voltage substation is to be constructed for the wind farm, contacted the Garrett County commissioners, requesting that they come out to the site to observe what was taking place. The commissioners declined the invitation, but agreed to meet with the Carricos at the courthouse Tuesday morning.

Among those present besides the Carricos were Commissioners Ernie Gregg and Fred Holliday, county administrator Monty Pagenhardt, and Robison, a neighbor of the Carricos.

“I feel as though I have lost all faith in the government to protect me,” Melisa Carrico told the commissioners in a prepared statement. “To know that what happened to me will happen to many other families, neighborhoods, and environments in Garrett County is absolutely unacceptable.”

She criticized the commissioners, saying that what is happening to her and her neighbors is an “act of destroying my safety, my environment, my property, and my community.”

“Yet you act as though you had no idea, and that you are sorry for about being part of a county government that obviously doesn’t protect its citizens,” she said.

Robison estimated the value of his new house to be at least $400,000, but acknowledged that this figure is now greatly diminished because of the project.

“Numerous groups have suggested many times that safety precautions, as well as environmentally sound practices, be implemented,” Carrico continued. “It is evident that we, the citizens of this county, were not protected. On every occasion nothing was done. You had seven years to stand up and protect us. That is your job.”

Justin Carrico said that among the reasons they purchased their house, valued at nearly $200,000, where it is was because of its quiet, pristine location, and the beauty of the forests.

“It’s certainly not quiet anymore,” he said, “and the forest right across the road, where I enjoy turkey hunting, has been leveled.”

Concern was also expressed about the damage to Eagle Rock Road, with Robison saying that it is literally being destroyed by the heavy equipment.

“That road really does not have an adequate base under it anyway, and there’s not going to be much of it left,” he said.

Reportedly, Constellation Energy will be responsible for repair and/or replacement of the road, according to the commissioners.

Melisa Carrico repeatedly asked the commissioners what they were going to do to help her and her neighbors, but Gregg and Holliday did not respond initially. Finally, Commissioner Gregg said, “I don’t know, Melisa. I don’t know.”

After hearing about the alleged violations at the site, the commissioners did say they would immediately contact the various permitting agencies involved, as well as John Cook, enforcement officer for the MDE.

Cook later confirmed that the project had been shut down, at least temporarily, and referred the matter to Apperson at the information office.

When asked what the next step would be for the contractor to be able to resume work at the site, Apperson said that he would have to install the super silt fence properly, devise and implement corrective action to eliminate the discharge of sediment-laden water as soon as possible, and have an engineer submit a revised erosion and sediment control plan to address the current plan’s sediment control deficiencies to the Garrett Soil Conservation District for review and approval.

He said that if the revised plan is not approved by April 5, the contractor would have to stabilize the entire site and not disturb earth until a revised plan is approved and implemented.

In addition, he would be required to submit copies of self-inspections for the site.

“MDE is reviewing the situation at the site to determine if the stream of water discharging from Eagle Rock Road should be considered to be state waters,” Apperson said, “in which case a waterway construction permit with additional requirements will be needed.”

When asked if fines were impending for the alleged violations, Apperson said, “MDE’s Compliance Program plans to require corrective actions as outlined above, and penalties for the alleged violations (sediment pollution and failure to install the super silt fence properly).”

David Wagner, manager of the Commercial Analysis Group with Constellation Energy, acknowledged receipt of the MDE’s notice of violation and said that the company will “proactively address it until it is resolved.”

“We (Constellation) pride ourselves on following the letter of the law when it comes to our projects,” Wagner said in a telephone interview this morning. “The project will not be continued until the matter is resolved,” which he expects to occur “by the end of this week.”

In a related matter, three pieces of legislation that would regulate the wind industry in Garrett County/Maryland all received unfavorable reports this week in the Maryland House of Delegates’ Economic Matters Committee. Those were:

•House Bill 390 introduced by Delegate Wendell Beitzel to grant the county commissioners the authority to enact ordinances for setback and decommissioning wind turbines;

•House Bill 791, requiring the Public Service Commission and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to develop jointly specified general performance standards for wind-powered electric generating turbines erected in the state, and requiring the commission to adopt specified standards by regulation; and

•House Bill 1013, requiring the Public Service Commission to establish a surcharge on wind-powered electric generating facilities in the state with a generating capacity that does not exceed 70 megawatts, requiring the comptroller to collect the revenue from the surcharge and deposit it into the Maryland Wind-Powered Electric Generating Facility Decommissioning and Restoration Fund, and authorizing a wind-powered electric generating facility to post a bond or other security acceptable to the commission in lieu of the surcharge.

Web link: http://www.therepublicannews.com/default.aspx

This entry was posted in Allegheny Mountains, Wind Energy Shenanigans and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Maryland Department of the Environment orders Constellation Energy to immediately cease work at wind farm.

  1. John W says:

    I bid the super silt fence materials for this job and noted. “I believe the contractor will find great dificulty with installing super silt fence properly”
    Okay, this is what needs to be done at this point, you need to install filtrexx bio-tube infront of the impeading flow of water. Placed up against the super silt fence.
    With 25 years in specifying and selling erosion control devises in Maryland I should have a good grasp on what works and what does not.

    • Frank O'Hara says:

      Another case how Big Industrial Wind represents high costs and little social benefits. This area is still wet from heavy winter snow cover and recent rains. There are reasons why this occured:

      Wildlife:
      • Big Wind wants to avoid any pre-construction wildlife studies. The are afraid their project will be stopped.
      • Remove summer forest cover to reduce roosting for bats and nest for birds. Should wildlife studies be required.
      • Destroy habitat for fall migration for birds and bats.
      • Destroy the area, and it will void the area for pre-construction studies and post contruction studies.
      • Remove all possibilities of Rare, Threatened or Endangered (RTE) wildlife. This could stop the project.
      • This way Big Wind can avoid bad press, legal costs should big wind is taken to court.

      Why Use an Out of State Contractor?
      • Maryland contractors recognize that Maryland takes environmental protection, soil, and water serious.
      • Secure an out of state contractor, so he can easily skip across the state line if problems occur, watch Big Wind state “it was the contractor’s responsibility” not ours. We thought he was qualified.
      • Let the State of Maryland deal with the out of state contractor.
      • Is this out of state contractor properly bonded?
      • Big wind promotes this idea of hiring local labor, but hires out of state contractors.

      Big Wind says, “we want to do it right” but the contractor defaulted, not us, we did not know.

      Remember there is no penalty if Big Wind lies.

      What next, Impose environmental fines. Cease all work; conduct adequate soil, water, and wildlife studies. Reconize and protect Western Maryland.

  2. Mary Stricker says:

    Hi,
    I am live on North Hill rd, I hate the view to my right already…not looking forward to the “coming” view to my left. What is Garrett County getting out of this? Anything?
    Also, I can’t find a study that shows the potential expected amount of electricity that these turbines will produce. Is there one for Garrett county? I want to understand, but for the life of me, I don’t know why they are destroying one of the most prestine mountain views I have ever had the grace to see. Who is benefiting from this.

    Please offer up any reading material you can.

    Thanks.
    Mary

  3. Frank O'Hara says:

    Well Allegheny Treasures called this card correctly…. No smoke an mirrors required….Read the Dec 01, 2009 posting…Maryland has no Backbone…..Read the past posts of what we expected…

    https://alleghenytreasures.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/destruction-of-backbone-mountain-soon-to-begin-ironically-because-no-one-has-one/

    Adding insult, the Maryland legisltators voted down any introduced bills affording protections. Hard to understand how a state could not support a least one of three 2010 bills introduced to protect the state and its residents. No BACKBONE describes the situation.

    Industrial wind represents high costs with minimal social benifts. Remove the federal, state, and local tax goodies and the projects disappear.

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention Maryland Department of the Environment orders Constellation Energy to immediately cease work at wind farm. « Allegheny Treasures -- Topsy.com

  5. AFA thanks the Cumberland Times News for reporting and following up with the story.
    Garrett approves revised wind farm project plans
    Megan Miller, Cumberland Times-News

    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.

    Read entire story here:

    http://times-news.com/local/x552026405/Garrett-approves-revised-wind-farm-project-plans

    Or at http://www.windaction.org/news/26469

    It appears that the Garrett County Commissioners have NO BACKBONE….They did not attend the public hearings on this project, or make project site visit.

    “Numerous groups have suggested many times that safety precautions, as well as environmentally sound practices, be implemented,” Carrico continued. “It is evident that we, the citizens of this county, were not protected. On every occasion nothing was done. You had seven years to stand up and protect us. That is your job.”

    http://www.windaction.org/news/26392

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