2 in Crisfield are approved and 1 in Westover is pending
By Richard Crumbacker Crisfield-Somerset County Times
January 21, 2015
WASHINGTON — The FAA’s Obstruction Evaluation Group posted information about three wind turbines planned in Somerset County.
Two are community scale turbines to be built across from Woodson Elementary School on property recently rezoned to Industrial-2 by Crisfield’s City Council.
The third is through Pioneer Green Energy and is located west of George Riggins Road. It would have a maximum height of 473 feet which is one foot less than what the Department of Defense determined would cause an interference with the ADAMS radar system in Southern Maryland.
The Great Bay Wind Energy Center that Pioneer Green envisions for the Westover and Marion areas includes 29 turbines but their heights are over 474 feet. That caused the DoD to not endorse the project unless there was mitigation so as to not compromise the operations at Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
Pioneer Green Development Manager Paul Harris said this single turbine would serve as an educational and job training site. “It would serve as an opportunity for students and residents of the county to learn about the technology and local firms to gain valuable first-hand experience on turbine construction and operations,” he said by email. “We look forward to our continued work to bring new jobs and investment in Somerset County.”
Right now, the County Commissioners are not considering the draft industrial wind turbine ordinance that was developed by a majority of the appointed members of the Planning and Zoning Commission. As a result, even if all federal agencies approved it, Pioneer would not get a construction permit from Somerset County.
As for the Crisfield project, Phil Johnson is the landowner and he said he has his FAA approval in hand. He is working with Aeronautica Windpower to place two 750 kW turbines that are 307 and 309 feet tall on the 22 acre dredge spoil site. While he originally proposed an arrangement with Somerset County Public Schools to use them to offset its electrical needs with the property available to students interested in green technology, he said that will not be the case as the school board did not make a commitment to be involved.
Mr. Johnson is now speaking with other agencies and non-profits. “It’s something like a $4 million savings over the life of the project,” he said, and while he personally wanted it to benefit the school system, “I can’t believe they turned it down.”
Superintendent John Gaddis replied that the school board “decided to wait” at least a year until Crisfi eld’s municipal wind turbine under construction behind the wastewater treatment plant was up and running. That way the data about its output could be evaluated.