Category Archives: Solar Issues

Any solar issues arising from local solar projects or those in the country that have pertinent information for Somerset County

Pioneer Green Energy offering single turbine demonstration

NOTE:  RE-RELEASED today 08-22-2015 as this is now pertinent to the possible re-introduction of their industrial wind turbines along with the newest Solar Projects.  WEBMASTER

By BRUCE HOTCHKISS Senior Editor , Delmarva Farmer

WESTOVER, Md. (Feb. 3, 2015) — In the face of continuing opposition to its Great Bay Wind Farm in lower Somerset County, Md., Pioneer Green Energy is proposing a demonstration project — a single wind turbine, just under 500 feet high, in the area of the town of Westover.

“We think it would be great,” said Paul Harris, who is directing the Great Bay development for Pioneer Green.

It would allow concerned residents to witness what Pioneer Green has in mind, “to show them what exactly this is all about,” Harris said. “It would be a great educational tool for the county,” he said.

The demonstration tower, as proposed, would be one foot under the limit established by the U.S. Navy to protect the airways around its Patuxent Naval Air Station and even as a single tower it must pass muster at all levels of government.

Pioneer Green launched the Great Bay project in 2010. Harris said its investment to this point is between $3.5 and $4 million. He said agreements for land use have been signed with more than 200 landowners across lower Somerset County. The project, as envisioned, would involve between 25 and 50 turbines.

Meanwhile, the local group vigorously opposing the project, Safe For Somerset, has called on Somerset County commissioners to delay plans for the wind project because of what it alleges to be a “new health and safety concerns, threats to national security, and new evidence of possible ethics violations by elected officials who are considering approval of the project.” Harvey Kagan, the group’s spokesperson cited medical literature which documents sicknesses linked to wind turbines.

These health claims were recently given new credence when the Brown County, Wis,, Board of Health declared their industrial wind turbines a public health hazard, he said. Kagan referred to reports of blade failure, ice throw, tower collapse and fire resulting from turbine mechanical failure.

Although relatively infrequent, the risk and severity of these accidents increases with turbine height, according to Kagan.  The 400- to 700-foot turbines proposed by Pioneer Green would be among the tallest in the nation, he said.

Kagan referred to a decision last August by Pioneer Green to withdraw plans for projects in Alabama because the company could not meet minimum requirements for health and safety established there. “If Pioneer Green’s safety standards are unacceptable in Alabama, why are the same standards acceptable here?” Kagan asked.

Regarding “setbacks” or distances deemed safe between turbines and human activity, he said, “During the deliberations about this project, voices on the commission that rose to increase setbacks to scientifically-established safe distances were publicly ridiculed, and eventually silenced.

Distance from turbines was decided in favor of the developer,” Kagan said. “Our officials have cast a blind eye and dismissed the risks, placing in harm’s way the citizens they represent.”

But perhaps the most serious allegations of Kagan concerned the ethics of county officials.

He alleged, for example, that the commissioners were found to have completed the wrong financial disclosure forms and were found not in compliance with the county ethics ordinance or state ethics laws.

Direct conflicts of interest by county commissioners may also exist, according to Kagan.  He said that the group has identified several county officials who have made or will be making critical legislative decisions on this project who have close family or business ties with holders of wind turbine leases.

Kagan also criticized commissioners’ lack of openness and transparency in consideration of the project, claiming that the commissioners have intentionally kept residents uninformed, particularly about the proximity of the turbines to homes.

“This has purposely been done to make residents believe the construction will not affect them,” Kagan said.

PIONEER GREEN SOLAR lays out its plan

By Richard Crumbacker Crisfield-Somerset County Times April 22, 2015

PRINCESS ANNE — An affiliate of a Texas-based company that recently abandoned its Great Bay Wind Energy Center announced it will soon be applying for permits for the Great Bay Solar Project.

This expansive collection of photovoltaic cells in up to six locations would dwarf the two solar farms already generating power in Somerset County, and if built out entirely, represents an investment of $225 million.

Pioneer Green Solar has a power purchase agreement with an unnamed customer to sell 75 megawatts of electricity and it projects it can double that if additional contracts are signed. Limits on land suitability could reduce the maximum capacity, however. “The largest this project can get is 150 MW,” said company VP Cyrus Tashakkori. “It may not be that big [but] that’s how big of an interconnection position we have.”

pioneer green solar project

A project of this scale needs 500 to 1,000 acres and Mr. Tashakkori said land is being evaluated for its suitability. “These are active farm parcels,” he said, and based on a satellite view shown April 14 to the County Commissioners the greatest concentration is in the Westover area along Old Princess Anne Road and also south of Keenan Lane off Sign Post Road.

This represents 0.123 percent of the county’s agricultural land, Mr. Tashakkori said. By comparison, the solar farm at UMES that was activated in March 2011 occupies 17 acres and produces up to 2.2 MW for the university. In April 2013 Chesapeake Renewable Energy and its partners started producing up to 3.66 MW on 25 acres for the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore.

In addition to the company’s direct investment, and labor needed for construction, the conservative tax benefit anticipated to Somerset County over 30 years is $1.25 to $2.5 million per year “added to the county’s budget starting in year one,” Mr. Tashakkori said. With the county now collecting $13.7 million overall, “this would be a very significant annual investment in tax dollars,” he said, and that does not include indirect benefits from jobs and spending.

“We’re dealing with some of the bigger farmers in the county, and for them it really represents a diversification of revenues that allows them to continue in their agricultural activities,” Mr. Tashakkori said.

Commissioner Craig Mathies Sr. did not specifically mention Pioneer Green’s wind program, but said past projects that have come before the commissioners had numbers that would change over time. “Some of the numbers in the past didn’t seem feasible,” he said, and for budgeting purposes the revenue of this project is such that “it’s imperative that we would have a realistic number.”

Mr. Tashakkori said he understood, and said the estimates are on the conservative side. Depreciation is also a factor but that will erode the total value by around 3 percent a year. “I’m not on the wind side of the business,” he said. “I can tell you, comparing the two, the wind project took many, many years to mature and never matured obviously.”

He continued, “There’s a lot more uncertainty with the wind side,” but the he reiterated that the power purchase and interconnectivity agreements are in hand, and “ we are actually moving forward to start construction 12 months from today.” “The wind project was never that mature. The company spent $3 plus million and invested heavily in the county and obviously still didn’t get to the state of maturity that this project already has.”

“We don’t want to over promise and under deliver in any sense, in the spirit of being as transparent as possible.”

Because this is connecting to the utility grid, the state permitting process must be followed. A Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) is the first step, and could take six to eight months to obtain, and building permits would be obtained from the county for construction to start by April 2016. If things proceed without interruptions, it would be in operation by the end of 2016.

“A pretty compressed timeline,” Mr. Tashakkori said, with taxes paid beginning in 2017.

If the project does not use more than 10 percent of the electricity generated on- site, the Public Service Commission (PSC) approval process “supersedes local zoning.” Gary Pusey, director of the Somerset County Department of Technical and Community Services in answering inquiries from Safe for Somerset noted that while the PSC has to give “due consideration” to the county’s views, unlike the Costen Road facility Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning and Zoning Commission approvals will not be required.

“If more than 10 percent of the electricity from the generating facility is used on- site, then local zoning applies,” he wrote, “ but that doesn’t appear to be the case with Pioneer Green’s project, since they’ll be sending their power directly to the grid.” Mr. Pusey added however that “Practically speaking” he would expect the PSC to want to coincide with local zoning, such as setbacks, if they became an issue.

Todd Chason, a member of the environmental and energy government relations practice with the Baltimore-based law firm Gordon- Feinblatt is counsel for Pioneer Green Solar. He shepherded through the first solar CPCN issued in Maryland for a 20 MW facility in Hagerstown, and he said one is under construction in Charles County. Another is going through permitting in Dorchester County.

Mr. Chason said Somerset’s will also go through an extensive review with several agencies through the PPRP, or Power Plant Research Program. From that conditions will be formulated on issues such as wetlands restrictions and mowing requirements.

The county can be part of the process along the way, “to actually sit with the judge in reviewing the case,” Mr. Chason said, or like the public simply comment and offer recommendations.

“It’s a big construction project,” Mr. Tashakkori said, and 500 to 600 temporary workers would be needed for most of one year for the 75 MW size. There’s not a lot of concrete involved, but pile driving, setting steel on the piles and installing the panels would require labor as would the design and electrical connections. There would be less than 10 jobs required across the whole project over its 30 year life, he said.

“We will have a job fair, we will hire locally to the extent folks in these industries are available,” Mr. Tashakkori said. “It makes the most sense.”

Wind turbine plans blow away

Pioneer Green suspends project, county ends work on turbine law

By Richard Crumbacker Crisfield-Somerset County Times – April 1, 2015

PRINCESS ANNE — Pioneer Green Energy is indefinitely suspending its Great Bay Wind Energy Center investment in Somerset County and a majority of the County Commissioners voted to end discussions on the industrial wind energy ordinance.

Coming soon however, will be proposals from Pioneer’s affiliate, Pioneer Green Solar, which has land leases in Marion and will unveil “an unrelated solar project.”

Commissioner President Randy Laird voted with Commissioner Craig Mathias Sr. and Vice President Charles Fisher to scrap the wind ordinance that had been handed down last October by the Planning and Zoning Commission. An attempt in November by the elected leaders to end further debate failed in a tie vote with Commissioner Jerry Boston abstaining.

In last week’s vote Mr. Boston and Commissioner Rex Simpkins abstained, both having been caught up in the ethics complaint submitted by Safe for Somerset and now being deliberated by the Ethics Commission.

“I personally been knowing this was going to happen,” Mr. Fisher said, “ but with this letter, and the one we had previously from the Defense Department” he motioned to pull the wind ordinance off the table. “The wind project is dead,” he said.

Pioneer Green Vice President Adam Cohen in -March 20 letter to the commissioners stated it was U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s insertion of a provision in “an unrelated piece” of a federal legislation that prohibited the Navy from allowing the project to proceed before a taxpayer-funded MIT study was completed. That was “One of the most substantial obstacles,” Mr. Cohen stated.

“After careful review and discussions with stakeholders, it is apparent that we are no longer able to proceed with our investment in any way in the near term….as such we will not be requesting a permit for construction of the Great Bay Wind project in Somerset County at the current time or in the foreseeable future.”

In late October the Deputy Secretary of Defense wrote Great Bay’s project “ would constitute an unacceptable risk to national security… because it would significantly impair or degrade…military readiness.” The issue had been interference from spinning turbine blades and their impact on the Navy’s specialized radar at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Not only did national leaders call for the military asset to be protected, but state legislators from Southern Maryland worked as well with the General Assembly to derail Great Bay’s plan.

One of Safe’s members, Randolph George of Marion, said he was surprised by Pioneer’s letter but pleased with its message and the county’s decision. “Enough is enough,” he said, but added that Pioneer’s representatives are “ very tenacious” about setting up business in this county.

As for solar, Dr. George said Pioneer has already begun the process to upgrade the electrical lines in the northern part of the county. He is not inclined to compare the two energy production systems because wind would have an impact on the viewshed while solar panels “ would do less of that.”

However, to get to a goal of 150 MW, Pioneer Green would need “ hundreds and hundreds of (farm) acres covered by solar panels, so that would be a change that the people of the county are going to have to decide if they really want.”

Dr. George said he has heard from some farmers who don’t want to cover their farmland with solar panels. As for neighborhood concerns about the solar farm on Costen Road, he has not personally heard of any complaints.

While solar farms are not listed in the county’s zoning code, no new ordinance will be required for their approval as they are treated as a special exception by the Board of Zoning Appeals, which advertises its public hearings and follows specific guidelines before approval is granted and/or conditions imposed.

Pioneer Green Energy has a separate division called Pioneer Green Solar and the company that planned the Great Bay Wind Energy Center with its towering wind turbines is now investigating solar energy as an alternative. It already has a solar lease for property in Marion. These panels are at the Health Department annex on Sign Post Road.

EDITORIAL : If not wind, perhaps solar?

DelmarvaNow.com – Salisbury Daily Times – March 27, 2015

EDITORIAL: If any Lower Shore county stands to benefit greatly from such investment, it’s Somerset

Since 2010, Somerset County has been the center of attention regarding a proposed wind farm project that is now off the table after five years of study, investment and much legislative work at various levels.

The convoluted path of Pioneer Green and the Great Bay Wind Energy Center from conception to a decision last week to abandon the project has produced at least 38 stories, commentaries, editorials and letters to the editor just since 2014. Five Delmarva Media Group reporters have written multiple reports about the project’s advances, setbacks and delays. At least eight people have written letters to the editor about it and some candidates in the 2014 elections responded to a question about the project.

It has, in short, been the focus of more local media attention than possibly any other individual topic during the past 15 months.

The news coverage focused on the project and how it progressed or stalled at various levels. The letters discussed the good, the bad and the ugly associated with the project, some written by passionate residents of Somerset County who opposed it and some by individuals employed by the companies or agencies involved who advocated it; others were submitted by people with a particular interest in alternative energy — or a fierce opposition to it.

The good:
Pioneer spokesmen said the project, during its 30-year lifespan, would generate a total of more than $44 million in tax revenue for Somerset County, and that the ultimate goal was cleaner energy. And indeed, the project would have helped Maryland achieve its goal of obtaining 20 percent of its total energy from renewable sources by 2022 — a goal that includes wind, solar, geothermal and bioenergy. Company spokesman also claimed sufficient energy would be produced to power more than 45,000 homes.

Some residents — 200 of whom had signed lease agreements with Pioneer Green to allow turbines on their properties — saw the project as a way to keep their farmland in the family after they retired.

Some state legislators who represent the Lower Shore supported the project for its economic benefits, including jobs generated both directly and indirectly as a result of the project. Some say new businesses would spring up to support the project, creating even more economic benefit and jobs.

The bad:
Objections ranged from noise and damage to human health as a result to fears about the landscape being ruined and property values dropping, wildlife kills and concerns from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in southern Maryland. U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski advocated waiting until a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study was completed, and her colleague Sen. Ben Cardin reiterated that Navy activities at Pax River had to be respected.

The height of the proposed turbines were a concern — at 500-600 feet, they would tower over everything else in the vicinity.

The economic benefits were challenged by those who oppose development of wind on the Shore. And studies can be found online to support just about any view regarding wind or other alternative energy source. Sorting through which claims are accurate and which are bogus is a nearly impossible task.

The ugly:
The project has created deep divisions in Somerset County, with proponents of each side — for or against the project — claiming many supporters. Opponents say that taxpayer subsidies will render the economic benefits non-existent. There is no agreement on whether wind generation would raise or lower energy bills for customers in Somerset and other Lower Shore counties.

Somerset County officials passed height and other restrictions that the company objected to.

In the end, the time just wasn’t right for this project. Business versus residents versus lawmakers versus fear of the unknown and untiring opposition all conspired to wear down Pioneer Green, which announced last week it had abandoned the wind project, at least for the foreseeable future.

However, the one thing that cannot be denied is that we — here on the Shore, across the nation and around the world — cannot continue to reject renewable energy sources and continue to rely on fossil fuels that spew excessive carbon into our atmosphere, contribute to acid rain and air pollution and are increasingly scarce and costly to obtain.

Will a perfect, clean, inexpensive or free energy source come knocking at our back door? Probably not. But by developing many different energy sources that minimize pollution and can be cost-controlled to some degree, we would have a better shot at maintaining our present lifestyles.

Surprisingly, Pioneer Green, while it may have abandoned the turbines, is still prepared to invest in Somerset County by exploring the possibility of leasing land for solar arrays. The process of studying that possibility is under way now.

The economic impact may be entirely different for solar as opposed to wind. A variety of small- and medium-scale solar projects are already in place and functioning around the Lower Shore and Sussex County. The arrays are not tall do not make noise or have moving parts like turbines.

If some government subsidy or incentive helps that process along, it’s no different than the support that allowed rural America to become electrified in the first place.

If there is any county on the Eastern Shore that stands to benefit from this kind of investment, it’s Somerset. After rejecting proposed investment in wind, Somerset County would be wise to welcome at least the renewed interest in large-scale alternative energy development — if not the project itself.

DO YOU AGREE?
Do you agree that alternative energy development is needed if America is to maintain its current lifestlye? Would you prefer solar over wind in your own neighborhood? Share your thoughts in a letter to the editor, emailed to opinions@DelmarvaNow.com.

Energy firm switches from wind to solar

Deborah Gates, DelmarvaNow 9:42 p.m. EDT March 24, 2015

Great Bay Wind says it is scrapping plans to build a controversial wind turbine farm in southwestern Somerset County. Instead, the company has announced plans to erect solar panels that also could land jobs and tax revenue for the county.

Talks to erect wind turbines across Somerset County’s southwestern landscape have diminished to a zero velocity.

Great Bay Wind says that instead, it is switching to a solar project that also could land jobs and tax revenue for the county.

The energy firm’s subsidiary, Pioneer Green Energy, said in a Friday letter to Somerset County Commissioners that several obstacles led to the company’s decision to indefinitely suspend turbine plans.

“After careful review and discussion with stakeholders, it is apparent that we are no longer able to proceed with our investment in any way in the near term,” Adam Cohen, a Pioneer Green Energy vice president, said in a March 20 letter to Somerset County Commissioners.

Specifically, Cohen pointed to language of a federal defense bill introduced in August 2014 by U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., that it said “placed the entire Great Bay Wind investment and business into a state of uncertainty.”

He was referring to language introduced into a federal Defense Appropriations bill report by Mikulski, who critics said crafted the language to delay the project.

At the time, Mikulski defended her action, saying that while she supported alternative energy solutions, she wanted the Somerset project stalled until results were in on a $2 million impact study on test range and turbine motion at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The study should be completed before next steps are taken,” the senator had said. “Better safe than sorry.”

Military officials as well as members of a grass-roots community group called Safe For Somerset have criticized height, location and operation of the planned turbines. Navy officials have complained that turbines over 500 feet tall could interfere with radar system testing by the Patuxent River Naval Air facility across the Chesapeake Bay in St. Mary’s County.

Safe For Somerset also accused elected and appointed decision-makers involved in the project of overlooking potential health and safety factors in order to help extended family members or business associates who would financially gain by leasing land to the energy company for turbines.

The Somerset County Ethics Commission is currently reviewing a potential conflict of interest among several county elected or appointed officials who have family or business ties with wind turbine leaseholders.

An effort to reach Cohen early this week was unsuccessful. He introduced county elected officials to Pioneer Green Solar, which he said would be presenting plans regarding a proposed solar farm in the county. He also said the firm has been “working with the community, landowners and farmers” on the solar project.

“We are hopeful that their effort at bringing investment dollars, jobs and tax base to Somerset County will succeed where our efforts have failed,” Cohen said.

Solar, wind energy see quick growth on Eastern Shore

SFS:  Check out the LAST few paragraphs…in RED

Solar, wind energy see quick growth on Eastern Shore

 Credit:  Phil Davis, DelmarvaNow | September 7, 2014

For the Eastern Shore and Maryland as a whole, alternative energy is no longer a subject talked about in the context of the distant future, it’s now a mandated certainty.

The initiative is headed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, who mandated that at least 20 percent of Maryland’s electricity be generated through renewable energy sources by 2022.

Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard puts the onus on counties and municipalities to start investing in and developing their own alternative energy projects.

Four years after the mandate was put into place, Somerset, Worcester and Wicomico counties have just begun to adopt larger alternative energy solutions and the counties themselves have begun to follow suit.

One of the main benefits to investing in alternative energy is reducing electrical costs for municipalities and counties. With budgetary spending still tight throughout the region, the ability to cut down on costs has enticed some municipalities to invest in wind and solar energy now rather than later.

In Wicomico County, the County Council is currently reviewing a proposal for a nearly 11,000 solar panel project that was touted as one that could bring the county’s electricity costs down by at least half, saving an estimated $162,000 per year.

Proposed by Public Works Director Lee Beauchamp in August, the two-site project would work as part of a power purchase agreement with SolarCity and has the potential to generate 100 percent of the county’s energy.

Council was generally receptive to the idea, open to the idea the county could drastically cut into its electricity costs while SolarCity foots the bill for the installation and maintenance of the panels. It’s a sentiment that’s being mirrored by the county executive’s office as well.

County Administrator Wayne Strausburg emphasized that Wicomico has an innate need to begin adopting alternative energy sooner rather than later.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the curve so that we can sustain our energy needs at much lower costs long-term, but also in a more environmentally friendly way,” said Strausburg. “It’s critically important from a financial standpoint. We aren’t being diligent if we’re relying on old technology to carry us in the future.”

Beauchamp said the agreement would allow the county to avoid so-called “elevator rates,” or increasing costs on electricity, with the deal as SolarCity would be locked in a 4.5 cent per kilowatt rate for the next 20 years if the project is approved by the County Council.

He added that with the fixed rate, the county “will really be able to forecast what our energy demands are going to be” more consistently.

And in Worcester County, Pocomoke City has entered an agreement with Standard Solar LLC and Sun Edison Co. for an approximately 6,300 solar panel project to produce 2.1 megawatts of electricity a day.

Similar to Wicomico County’s larger project, City Manager Russell Blake said the project will generate all of the city’s electricity when completed and is expected to save Pocomoke $40,000 in electricity costs, along with the electricity of a handful of non-profit organizations who will also participate in the agreement.

The 20-year power purchase agreement with Sun Edison will put the financial burden on the company rather than the city, requiring they provide the funding to Standard Solar, who will contract the construction, operation and maintenance of the solar array.

Part of the agreement also locks in the company’s electricity rates for the 20-year life of the agreement, with an “escalator clause” which calls for a fixed 1 percent increase year over year.

“Actually, when Standard Solar first approached the city, that was one of the selling points they offered immediately,” said Blake.

Designated as the largest municipally owned solar project in the state, Blake said when the companies reached out to the city about the project, officials saw it “win-win for the city,” one that would reduce yearly city electricity costs without needing any capital up front to finance the project.

Those saving have found their way into Somerset County as well, where a 750-kilowatt wind turbine at the end of Dixon Street is expected to save the city of Crisfield between $150,000 to $200,000 a year in electrical costs once completed. The project was funded by a mix of state and federal grants totaling $4.1 million with a $400,000 match from the city.

While the city could make its money back within the first two years if estimates are correct, Mayor Kim Lawson said the financial gain was not the main reason why he supported it.

“It just is the right thing to do for a lot of reasons,” said Lawson. “Especially if we’re going to be a state that’s going to be so heavily regulated on our impact on the Chesapeake Bay.”

The turbine is expected to generate more than enough energy to power the city’s sewage treatment plant and the city can sell any excess electricity generated by the turbine can be sold back to the grid.

Unique problems

While the three counties see the immediate and long-term financial benefits to investing in alternative energy along with the obvious wont to reduce the region’s greenhouse gases and carbon footprint, county officials realize the region also faces a unique set of concerns about how it will effect the agricultural and wildlife landscapes.

One of the more unique problems for the region when it comes to wind energy is its effect on the area’s birds and other winged wildlife.

This was no more evident than when Ryan Taylor, a bioacoustic expert and professor at Salisbury University, posed the question as to whether the proposed 25-wind turbine project by Pioneer Green Energy in Somerset County would begin to kill an unusual ally in the world of farming: bats.

Bats feed on insects that destroy crops and pollinate plants during the late evening hours. The Bat Conservation International of Austin, Texas, estimates that the value of bats to U.S. agriculture is at least $3.7 billion.

In a study published by the university of Colorado, Denver, an estimated 600,000 of the winged creatures were killed by wind turbines last year alone as a result of internal hemorrhaging in the bats caused by drops in atmospheric pressure brought about by the turbines’ blades.

Taylor harped on this point, saying the turbines could effect farmers in the area in ways they might not expect.

“Bats help farmers for pest management,” said Taylor, pointing toward Pioneer Green’s filing that the turbines could be as high as 599 feet.

“As turbines get taller, they kill more bats. So that puts the pest management burden back on the farmers,” said Taylor.

Another nationally protected frequent flyer along the Eastern Shore could also be effected by alternative energy projects, the bald eagle.

In Dec. 2013, the Obama administration granted industrial wind farm operators 30-year permits to kill bald eagles and golden eagles without fear of legal repercussions.

With reports of solar farms in California’s Mojave Desert killing up to 28,000 birds per year with 459 “power towers,” some have become concerned the push for alternative energy has come at the expense of one of the country’s most iconic birds.

Truitt has argued that Pioneer Green has not done enough to ensure the bird’s safety in Somerset County.

“To date, no industrial wind project in the United States has required a bald eagle take permit, yet this project is still being considered,” said Truitt.

Harris counters Pioneer Green is working on an eagle conservation plan, flying to known migration spots to find eagles nests and draft blueprints to set the turbines back away from the nests accordingly.

He added there was an increased need to move the project away from the Pocomoke River and Chesapeake Bay as to not disturb areas where the birds are known to fish.

“We’ve actually shrunk the project size more than half in order to avoid those specific areas,” said Harris.

But perhaps the most common among all the projects was the esthetical changes the projects would have on the rural communities.

After the initial passing of the Ocean City law allowing for residential wind turbines, the first backyard wind turbine project stalled soon after among concerns from nearby neighbors that noise generated from the turbines would be more noticeable in the densely populated region.

While the first roof mounted turbines were installed on an Atlantic Avenue home in Dec. 2013, Somerset and Wicomico counties have expressed concerns that the large turbines could take away from the rural esthetic the region is used to.

Somerset County Planning Commission member Carol Samus pointed to a radio tower outside of a Maryland State Police barrack outside of Princess Anne, saying she can see the tower from far away and should serve as a cautionary tale for large structures taking away from the area’s rural aesthetic.

“The one at the state police barrack outside of Princess Anne … (the tower’s) total height is 330 feet,” said Samus. “600-foot turbines above our 100 foot tree line are certainly going to show.”

It’s a sentiment also expressed by Strausburg, who said he would expect county residents to express concerns about the county’s rural aesthetic.

“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t want my next door neighbor to have a wind turbine,” said Strausburg.

“The county is very, by and large, rural, agricultural in nature and I think most people would like it to stay that way,” he continued. “And I’m not sure wind farms, how well that integrates into that image that folks have as to what they want their county to look and feel like.”