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Renewable energy in Constellation deal questioned

Thu, 11/17/2011 - 8:13am
ALEX DOMINGUEZ - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press

Promises to build more renewable energy sites in Maryland as part of the proposed sale of Constellation Energy Group Inc. to Chicago's Exelon Corp. are drawing opposition in western Maryland.

The chairman of the Garrett County Board of Commissioners wrote Exelon President and CEO Christopher Crane this month saying industrial wind-power generation has been a contentious issue in the county.

The board "does not support further industrialization of ridge tops until a prudent and reasonable public policy has been created and enacted that will provide protections to those who will be adversely impacted," Chairman Gregan Crawford said in the letter.

The chairman said he believes wind energy is one of the reasons why a new board was elected last year and the commissioners can't support wind development until concerns about noise, the effect on property values and other issues are addressed. The letter was submitted by the two companies to the state's Public Service Commission, which is reviewing the deal. Constellation and Exelon have proposed building 25 megawatts of renewable energy production in Maryland if the $7.9 billion takeover is approved.

Garrett County is already home to a Constellation wind-power farm, one of several projects in the county.

In July, Constellation Energy Group celebrated the start of the 28-turbine project on Backbone Mountain, Maryland's first commercial wind farm. Protesters who turned out at the ribbon-cutting said the project mars the landscape and threatens the Indiana bat, which is a federally protected species. The company said the project provides clean energy for up to 23,000 households in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

Crawford told Crane he was not familiar with the specifics of the promise to build 25 megawatts of renewable energy, but said he felt it was his obligation to inform Exelon of the current sentiment in the county, noting the commissioners "cannot in good conscience support continued industrial wind development."

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