Bowles Rice, Views and Visions - January 2020
Bowles Rice, one of West Virginia’s top law firms recently published the attached article in its Views and Visions publication. In it, he references the Pinnacle wind farm and the US Wind Force Foundation.
October 16, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FROM LAUREL RENEWABLE PARTNERS, LLC
Board of Zoning Appeals Grants Zoning Approval
Major Investment in Electric Infrastructure
Proposed $100M wind farm will bring jobs, economic development
to Allegany County, Maryland
CUMBERLAND, MD – October 16, 2019 – Allegany County, Maryland’s Board of Zoning Appeals granted a Special Exception for the construction of a proposed wind farm near Frostburg today. The action, stemming from a 2018 decision from Maryland’s second-highest, the Court of Special Appeals, remanding the decision back to the Board of Zoning Appeals reverses the Board’s December 2015 decision denying zoning approval for the proposed Dan’s Mountain Wind Farm.
The project, in development since 2001, initially sought approval from the County in 2008 for the construction of a 25-turbine wind farm located entirely on private property on Dan’s Mountain. The County modified its zoning regulations as they relate to wind farms in 2009, sidelining the project until 2015 when Dan’s Mountain sought approval for a 17-turbine project that complied with Allegany County's strict 2009 setback requirements. A utility-scale wind farm is a “permitted use” by special exception, subject to meeting certain criteria and a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The project has long enjoyed the support of the full-time residents who live nearest to the site and were co-applicants in the zoning case, the Western Maryland Building Trades whose members will benefit from the hundreds of jobs created during the construction of the project, the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Cumberland Committee. It is expected to bring more than $1 million per year in new tax revenues to Allegany County. This is especially significant given the recent closure of the local Luke Paper Mill.
Importantly, the project has been the subject of a tremendous amount of environmental review and study. It was designed to avoid critical habitat for endangered wildlife and plants and has the support of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to the developer, Laurel Renewable Partners, Allegany County would have received more than $10 million in property taxes so far if it had been constructed in 2009 as originally planned. “In many ways this project is a perfect example of a win-win. Not only will it bring new tax revenue, good construction jobs and a handful of operations and maintenance jobs, but it will also continue to stimulate the local economy and harness Western Maryland’s inexhaustible wind resource for clean energy production. It also supports Maryland’s recently passed 50% renewable energy by 2030 goal.” Said David Friend, the developer’s managing partner. The state's renewable energy goal was increased from 25% to 50% in May by the General Assembly.
During the construction phase, Dan’s Mountain is expected to create 205 jobs statewide, representing approximately $12.9 million in labor income payroll and $30.4 million in regional economic output. Additional local jobs will be created to staff the plant, which will be supplemented with contractor services provided by area businesses.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, there are currently 191 megawatts of wind capacity in Maryland. Dan’s Mountain would be the state’s fifth and Allegany County’s first.
Laurel Renewable Partners