Hey … how about if we plop 28 giant wind turbines up near Eagle Rock! What could possibly go wrong?

No, I didn’t say Fraggle Rock … although industrial wind as a legitimate energy source is on a level with a Muppet fantasy.  But no, Eagle Rock is another target in the continuing assault on the Allegheny Mountains.  Constellation Energy of Baltimore has now acquired the rights to place 28 industrial wind turbines along Backbone Mountain in Western Maryland.

Constellation indicated it will seek an incidental take permit from the US Fish and Wildlife service, but they didn’t indicate if the application process will occur before of after the first eagles are sliced and diced by the propellers of the Boeing 747 size rotating tinker toys.  According to the following article, “the (incidental take) permit application requires developers to create a habitat conservation plan for mitigating the effects of an incidental killing of wildlife. USFWS can also require that applicants conduct biological surveys of the project area.”  Maybe someone can explain how installing a long line of ineffective tax shelters in the direct flight path of eagles, hawks and bats along Backbone will lead to the “incidental killing of wildlife.”

Trust me folks … once the long line of turbines enabled by our Federal, State and Local legislators is finally connected, and the cumulative impact takes its full measure of wildlife, the resulting loss won’t seem incidental.  Unfortunately, these elected officials and their appointed agencies are not considering the individual applications for “wind farms” in their totality.

Of course, many will no longer be in office when the final tally of destruction is revealed.  Many will be living well in retirement as a result of the many years of power and influence they purchased with the generous funding of the wind industry lobbyists.  The very same wind industry which is funded in large part with your tax dollars, doled out by the very same politicians.  Seem a little incestuous, perhaps?

By the way, the only thing incidental in this whole scenario is the actual contribution of these monstrous turbines to the nation’s energy needs.

Read Times-News reporter Megan Miller’s column here:  Cumberland Times-News

April 10, 2010

Garrett County wind project deal finalized

Megan Miller
Cumberland Times-News

— DEER PARK — Baltimore company Constellation Energy has finalized its acquisition of a Garrett County wind project, closing a deal for the $140 million, 70-megawatt Criterion wind farm with California-based Clipper Windpower Inc.

The project, now under construction, is scheduled to go online by the end of 2010.

The deal was first announced in November and closed Wednesday. As part of the agreement, Constellation will also purchase 28 of Clipper’s Liberty wind turbines, which will be installed along the top of Backbone Mountain near Eagle Rock. The turbines will be built at Clipper’s manufacturing plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The agreement also calls for Clipper employees based in Garrett County to operate and maintain the wind power facility once it’s up and running.

The Criterion project has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Old Dominion Electric Cooperative for both its electricity and renewable energy credits.

Constellation spokesman Larry McDonnell said the developer plans to voluntarily seek an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The company has not yet given a timeframe for filing its application.

The permit effectively protects developers from violating the federal Endangered Species Act by creating a plan in advance to deal with the possibility that endangered wildlife could be harmed by a project. In this region, much of that attention has been focused on the Indiana bat.

“Even though the risk of a negative impact to an Indiana bat is very remote, Constellation Energy will voluntarily seek the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s approval for any incidental impacts,” McDonnell said. “We will commit to developing Indiana bat habitat improvement projects that will result in far greater benefits to the species than any remote risk posed by the project.”

The permit application requires developers to create a habitat conservation plan for mitigating the effects of an incidental killing of wildlife. USFWS can also require that applicants conduct biological surveys of the project area.

The length of time needed for USFWS to review a permit application can range from less than three months to one year, depending on the scope and complexity of the conservation plan, according to USFWS permit instructions. The timeframe can also be affected by other factors, such as public controversy.

Contact Megan Miller at mmiller@times-news.com.

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