As the developers of the proposed Somerset County wind farm, we feel compelled to respond to the blatant — and seemingly intentional — factual misstatements put forth in recent letters to the editor by opponents of our investment.
We acknowledge that rotating wind turbines have the potential to create interference with the radar testing systems at the Patuxent Naval Air Station. But the extensive study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratories funded by Pax River concluded that's there's a simple solution to the potential interference: Don't allow the turbines to operate when the Navy wants to do its radar testing.
That's exactly what we have agreed to do, and the commanders at Pax River have indicated that they are satisfied with this solution for our project. The business development group, representing contractors who work around the base, also reviewed the plan and signed off. All of this talk about needing additional time for MIT to complete more study for other mitigation solutions is only relevant if a wind farm isn't able to shut down its turbines during testing periods. We've committed to the shutdown solution, and as far as Pax River is concerned, that solves the potential problem for our project. Case closed.
Letter writers who suggest that we won't honor the agreement with the Navy are trying to manufacture hysteria where none exists. Existing federal and state laws are already in place to ensure that we comply with the agreement, and the Maryland Public Service Commission would have the right to withdraw our certificate of operation. Does anyone reasonably believe our project is going to defy the Navy and FAA, violate this agreement and thereby sabotage our operation permit?
The suggestion has also been made that the economic impact of our project on Somerset County is being "grossly exaggerated" and that we will neither create the promised jobs nor the anticipated tax revenues.
The comprehensive economic impact study from the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute has been posted on our project website since it was published nearly two years ago, and we have yet to see anyone raise credible questions about the economic analysis of spending $200 million to put steel in the ground and people to work. Writing a personal attack in the letters to the editor column is not a responsible way to critique the efforts of respected economists and the University of Baltimore. Nor are wild economic assumptions about electricity pricing from letter writers who acknowledge that they can't justify their baseless speculation.
While it's not our place to speak for Somerset County, it's worth noting that when Southern Maryland legislators pushed their first piece of statewide legislation to strip Somerset County of their own zoning rights in 2012, no one showed the decency then to consult with Somerset County. Perhaps that explains why Somerset officials chose not to participate in subsequent offers from Southern Maryland to jointly study land use.
At Pioneer Green, we are proud of our record of success with renewable energy, both what our team members have developed individually and what we have achieved since coming together as a company. For four years, our company has invested time, energy and millions of dollars into development of the Great Bay Wind Energy Center in Maryland. We've worked with engineers to study the wind conditions and collaborated with federal and state agencies to develop a siting plan that minimizes the turbines' impact on the surrounding environment. We have played by the rules set up by the state and federal governments and negotiated in good faith with Navy officials to ensure that our wind project could coexist with the important operations at Pax River. We believe we've found a reasonable and responsible solution to move ahead with a "win-win" for the state.
Thank you to the thousands of Marylanders who have recognized our efforts and communicated that it's possible for Maryland to pursue Gov. Martin O'Malley's vision for a clean energy future while maintaining the state's position as a leader in the development of military technology. We agree and, like others in the renewable energy field, hope to invest in this state for many years to come.
The writer is vice president of Pioneer Green LLC.
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