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Environmental concessions over planned Maryland 141 MW

Two Maryland wind projects with a combined capacity of 141 MW were given preliminary approval in February by a Public Service Commission examiner. The final go-ahead could come this month. To win approval, however, developers are being required make concessions to appease local environmental groups concerned about views and birds. For its 101 MW, 67 turbine project on top of Backbone Mountain, Maryland's highest ridge, Clipper Windpower is agreeing to monitor bird and bat mortality for three years. If bird mortality is high, especially of endangered species, Clipper could be required to shut down operations or even move turbines. While admitting that to be a major concession, Clipper's Kevin Rackstraw says the company does not anticipate it will have to move any turbines. But to gain some siting flexibility should problems arise, the company is requesting for an extension of the proposed site by two miles. The second project, by US WindForce in conjunction with Padoma Wind Power, is for 40 MW at Savage Mountain. The partners have plans for up to 1500 MW of wind generation in the next five years along the mid-Atlantic Coast in the states of Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia (Windpower Monthly, October 2002). Both Backbone Mountain and Savage Mountain are scheduled for completion by the end of 2003, before the federal production tax credit expires, and both are subject to such view saving measures as minimal lighting on and around turbines.

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