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Wind Project on Maryland’s Eastern Shore Pits Governor against Pax River Supporters

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  • April 6, 2014
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Legislation in the Maryland General Assembly that could block a proposed wind farm on the state’s Eastern Shore has divided Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), a strong proponent of clean energy, and southern Maryland officials who believe the project could interfere with a radar system at Naval Air Station Patuxent River used to test the stealth capability of aircraft.

The measure, which passed the House last month, would delay the construction of large turbines within 56 miles of Pax River — an area that would cover the distance from the air station on the Chesapeake Bay’s western shore to the Great Bay project site across the bay, reports the Baltimore Sun.

Air station supporters say the legislation would provide sufficient time for a $2 million MIT study to evaluate ways to mitigate the turbines’ impact on the radar system. Project supporters — including clean energy advocates such as O’Malley, officials from the Eastern Shore’s Somerset County and the developer Pioneer Green — say the bill is unnecessary since the company has reached an agreement with the Navy to turn off the 25 turbines when radar tests are run.

Adam Cohen, Pioneer Green’s founder, pointed to comments from David Belote, former director of the DOD Siting Clearinghouse, stating the concerns of Pax River supporters were misplaced since turning off the turbines would remove any interference, according to the story.

Cohen also has warned that the moratorium would kill the project. Alternative energy advocates say the bill would hinder Maryland’s effort to meet a goal of attaining 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2022.

The bill, HB 1168, now is being considered by a Senate committee.

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