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Western Md. Wind Farm Developer Gets More Time

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CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — The Maryland Public Service Commission is giving a wind power developer more time to build a proposed 25-turbine project on Dan’s Mountain in Allegany County.

The Cumberland Times-News reported Wednesday that regulators have given Dan’s Mountain Wind Force LLC until the end of next year to start construction. The company otherwise would have had to begin construction by Sept. 12 of this year. It is the second extension granted to the developer.

The company, owned by Laurel Renewable Partners of Greensburg, Pa., cited financial difficulties and restrictive local zoning regulations in seeking the extension.

It says Chicago-based Exelon Corp. has now agreed to fund, help develop and purchase the project, provided it meets certain development milestones.

In a July 31 filing, the developer expressed optimism that county officials will be flexible about county land-use regulations requiring separation between turbines, property lines and residences.

The zoning rules, enacted in 2009, require turbines taller than 300 feet to be at least 900 feet from a property line and 2,000 feet from a residence. Those distances can be cut in half if enough neighboring property owners agree. The company has said the rules would reduce the number of turbines it could build from 25 to one.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler has said that a similar landowner consent provision in neighboring Garrett County is unconstitutional. Laurel Renewable Partners Chief Executive Officer David K. Friend said Wednesday it’s too early to say whether Gansler’s opinion would apply to Allegany County.

The developer also could seek a land-use variance through the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals.

The Public Service Commission granted the extension after receiving a letter last month from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, confirming that the company will abide by its earlier commitments to protect bats and birds, specifically eagles.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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