ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – The state’s highest court again struck down attempts to block a wind-power project in Garrett County, ruling against two challenges brought by opponents of the project.
In both cases, area residents and business owners challenged the way the Maryland Public Service Commission approved Clipper Windpower Inc.’s 41-acre project along Backbone Mountain. The PSC green-lighted the project along with another wind-power proposal in 2003, but neither has been built.
On Thursday, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the opponents’ challenge. The court ruled that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to consider a request to halt the project while another case was pending that involved the same parties and issues.
The court also found that the PSC acted appropriately when it advertised its hearing on the project in a newspaper instead of notifying interested parties directly. ‘Personal notification of all such potentially interested persons … would be impossible,’ the opinion said.
Earlier this month, the court ruled against a challenge filed by Eric Tribbey, writing on behalf of Friends of Backbone Mountain, who wanted another look at whether the proposed turbines would harm wildlife. Two other groups filed similar requests. But the court sided with Clipper Windpower, which argued that because those groups did not join PSC proceedings about the decision, they could not ask for it to be appealed.
The proposal from Clipper Windpower, based in Carpinteria, Calif., could produce up to 100 megawatts of power — enough to provide electricity to 100,000 homes. Critics say the turbines will spoil the landscape, cause noise pollution and kill birds.
If built as planned, the project would extend about 10.8 miles along the Allegheny Front, an Appalachian mountain ridge, at an elevation of about 3,200 feet. Strong, relatively steady winds make the ridge attractive to wind-power developers.
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