Safe for Somerset wants more transparency with all energy projects

The following letter was delivered to the County Commissioners’ Office by Safe for Somerset representative Harvey Kagan.

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Gentlemen: As you are aware, much of the controversy over the Great Bay Wind Project stems from a lack of transparency in the process of Pioneer Green’s obtaining land leases, filing for required Federal and State permits, providing easy access for the public to studies upon which it bases its health, safety and economic claims, and by general obfuscation. Ordinary citizens were only given cursory information about what was occurring. Media coverage was minimal. Only as a result of the extensive research, investigation, and public outreach by a group of concerned citizens has the public been provided with any real details as to what has been transpiring with respect to the Great Bay Wind Project.

We now find that Pioneer Green is working on developing industrial scale solar panel arrays to be placed on large segments of the farmland of Somerset County. The arrays could cover a significant percentage of the farmland of the county.

We have found that:

  • Pioneer Green is signing leases with farmers for multi-year leases of large tracts of land for the installation of solar panels.
  • Pioneer Green has made a multi-million dollar purchase of farmland on Route 13 near the Washington High School.
  • Pioneer Green has signed interconnection agreements with Delmarva Power costing millions of dollars without having any permitted projects or an approved wind power variance ordinance. Why would Pioneer Green sign such contracts if it did not have assurance that it would be getting approvals from the County?
  • Pioneer Green’s interconnection agreements were originally for wind power. The most recent Interconnection Feasibility Study Report from Delmarva Power states that the previously requested interconnection agreement has been changed from wind power as the source of electricity to solar power.
  • At the same time, Pioneer Green has filed a request with the FAA to be allowed to construct a 474-foot high wind turbine in the Rehobeth area.

Is Pioneer Green now going to install massive acreages of solar arrays instead of wind turbines? Is it going to pursue a hybrid project?

In either case, these energy projects are going to have significant impacts on the character of the county and are going to change the usage of our farmland. As elected officials charged with guarding the health and safety and financial stability of the county it is critical that you be fully aware of the details of projects of this size and scope and, most importantly, that you make this information fully and easily available to the public. The Pioneer Green energy projects cannot be kept hidden from public scrutiny. The public must be kept informed of what specific plans Pioneer Green has and how it plans to implement them.

Lack of transparency makes citizens question whether a proposed project is beneficial to the majority rather than to the few who are financially involved. The attitude of local government should be the creation of a cooperative arrangement among all citizens where the health and welfare of all are protected.

If you do not have answers to the questions we are raising, Pioneer Green should provide them to you, as well as the proposed schedule and scope of their energy projects. This information ought to be made public through the county website and at well-publicized public hearings held at times and places convenient to the general public.

Having an open, transparent process will allow informed decisions to be made by you and the public and will avoid the rancor and divisiveness that has accompanied the wind turbine project. An honest energy developer has nothing to fear from an open process. Thank you,

Safe For Somerset

P.O. Box 62

Marion Station, Md. 21838-0062

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