I’ve got to admit, it wasn’t exactly the ringing endorsement I had expected. In fact, from the email I just received from the University of Maryland Chancellor, it appears recent newspaper reports of the University of Maryland playing a role and “believing in this (Pinnacle Wind Farm) project” might be … uh … let me be kind here … a stretch.
You might recall back in September, the Mineral Daily-News Tribune (WV) quoted Mr. David Friend of US WindForce as saying, “The Power Purchase Agreements are an important next step. It is rewarding to know the public recognizes the benefits of wind energy. The state of Maryland has demonstrated this by believing in this project and by agreeing to use the power as part of its energy mix. We appreciate the role they are playing in this project.”
The Cumberland Maryland Times-News quoted Mr. Friend similarly: “It is rewarding to know the public recognizes the benefits of wind energy,” Wind Force Chairman and CEO Dave Friend said in a prepared statement. “The state of Maryland has demonstrated this by believing in this project and by agreeing to use the power as part of its energy mix. We appreciate the role they are playing in this project.“
Concerned as I am that the WindForce folks have been and still are seeing a little too much red carpet from our community leaders, I decided to write the Chancellor of the University of Maryland asking if he planned to insure that the US WindForce folks were going to follow all the rules. Here’s the link to my email, if you need it: University of Maryland must insist wind developer partner will protect endangered species.
Much to my surprise, Chancellor William Kirwan was kind enough to respond via email tonight, and I’ll provide it here for you.
Dear Mr. Morgan:
Thank you for your November 9 e-mail. We share your interest in the natural environment and are seeking energy reduction efforts and alternative sources of energy as part of goals established by the Governor and General Assembly of Maryland intended to reduce carbon emissions statewide.
Like other Maryland agencies and institutions, we are purchasing electrical power from a variety of suppliers that sell energy on the open market. We support the pursuit of various energy technologies, and understand that there may be different opinions regarding the merits or impacts of any one technology. We also support the established governmental processes intended to protect the interests of all.
To that end, we must allow the permitting processes of the appropriate state and county jurisdictions to determine whether construction or operation of a particular facility has an adverse impact. The USM is not in a position to preempt nor influence—one way or the other—the permitting process. Accordingly, I suggest that you address your concerns to those entities that issue the permits.
William E. Kirwan
(I placed this response in my “Professor Irwin Corey imitates Pontius Pilate” file.)
Well, maybe it’s just me, but the old “gotta do it ’cause I’m told” sounds pretty weak coming from the Chancellor of a major university. But frankly, when you start asking any high level official why they support this ludicrous technology, that’s the kind of answer you get. Many don’t possess the intellectual curiosity to research industrial wind for themselves. They seem satisfied to simply accept what they’re told by the folks “upstairs” or the heavily funded wind lobby. Then, of course, there’s the group that simply nod in the direction of the funding.
But it seems to me, the willingness of the Chancellor to simply pass along the tough decisions to some other agency for the sake of meeting goals should be unacceptable to the University of Maryland Trustees. I am absolutely shocked by the Chancellor’s reply and his willingness to hide from what I feel is clearly his responsibility – to insure, as I suggested in my letter, that his “partners” are following the rules. But then, he didn’t even mention US WindForce in his response, much less confirm the U of MD “role” or “belief in” the specific Pinnacle Wind project, which, by the way, is what led me to my conclusion about Mr. Friend’s claim.
No matter, the Chancellor is clear in one thing … I need to go elsewhere. Perhaps I should write to Governor O’Malley and see if wants to insure US WindForce complies with Federal and WV State agency requests before they begin construction. You know, “be a good neighbor!”
In the meantime, gotta keep an eye out here. Seems the WindForce folks are working out the details of decommission and an escrow account with our own County Commissioners. I’m almost sure they’re meeting this coming week because, when I was at the dry cleaners yesterday, I saw this long red carpet with an “rush” tag on it.