Zoning/Planning and Maryland
Two years after Maryland legislators passed a law designed to breeze wind power projects through regulatory reviews, the state still has no active wind farms and the opponents of the 2007 bill are still fighting the change. ...Former state senator and former Frostburg mayor John Bambacus told a panel of legislators that the new law "totally gutted the regulatory process." Bambacus says public input is exceptionally important because wind turbines "are not benign structures," noting some are as "tall as the Washington monument."
Two western Maryland lawmakers have introduced legislation reversing a 2007 law that allows wind power projects to breeze through the review process.
The bills introduced by Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel would end the possibility of "fast-track" regulatory approval for wind farms.
Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel are trying both approaches by filing a handful of bills to repeal all or parts of a 2007 law that streamlined the regulatory and review process for industrial wind turbine facilities.
Edwards' Senate Bill 583, cross-filed with House Bill 605 by Beitzel, would mandate that any industrial wind energy facility go through the full review process ..."There's a lot of controversy back home over whether there's enough opportunity now for input from the public," Edwards told the Times-News this week while in Annapolis. "We felt that one way to try to resolve that is to try to repeal (SB) 566 and go back to what was in place prior to passage of SB 566, which sort of short-cuts the process."
Disputing what's been called a "dialogue," several guests at Monday's US WindForce community meeting felt questions have gone unanswered just as the company recently announced its intention to file an application with the Public Service Commission for 23 wind turbines comprising the Pinnacle Wind Farm.
Allegany County should introduce legislation to manage industrial and residential wind turbines "as expeditiously as possible," according to a report produced by County Planning Coordinator Phil Hager and colleagues.
That's exactly what some high-profile wind energy opponents have been requesting for months. ...
The Hagerstown Planning Commission decided Wednesday to look into adopting state-recommended regulations for appearance, lot size, setbacks, sound levels and ground clearance for wind turbines.
Research presented at Wednesday's meeting showed wind turbines probably would not be cost-efficient in the city, where wind is limited and electric rates are already low.
And it was with a heavy heart, perhaps, that the Frostburg State University professor went against her gut feeling and asked that the Maryland Public Service Commission deny a request by Dan's Mountain Wind Force LLC for an exemption from obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.
Granting the request would make the 60-megawatt project able to streamline the permit and construction process. Denial of the request would cause the project to undergo scrutiny by several state agencies.
A public hearing will be conducted Jan. 22 in Frostburg on a company's proposal to construct up to 29 wind energy conversion systems near Vale Summit along the ridge of Dan's Mountain.
The hearing is prompted by Dan's Mountain Windforce LLC's application to the Maryland Public Service Commission for an exemption from the requirement to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and for approval to construct up to 29 wind turbines.
Despite living in a state that hopes to become a leader in energy efficiency, people like the Flesches are discovering that obtaining approval to install turbines is difficult.
The struggle is not with the state or even the power companies. The struggle is with county and local governments - many of which do not have laws in effect to deal with wind turbines.
There is still some doubt over who has the authority to establish certain regulations for industrial wind turbines. ...On the list was the allowance for the commissioners to create regulations to require a certain distance from surrounding properties.
The Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday resumed discussion of the bonding and interference policies related to potential commercial or industrial wind energy installations. ...At issue is the bond amount the county could require wind energy companies to post. Hager presented a draft proposal to the county's zoning text that would require a $150,000 bond until an abandoned wind turbine has been taken down and the land restored similar to its original condition.
Maryland regulators have, for the first time, granted fast-track status to a wind-power project in the state's mountainous western panhandle.
The 5-0 vote Wednesday by the Public Service Commission exempts California-based Clipper Windpower Inc. and its Criterion Power Partners subsidiary from having to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for its 40-turbine project in Garrett County, as power plant developers must do.
County resident Sam White alerted the county to another possible conflict of interest Davis might have in regard to the ongoing discussions of wind turbines and the proposed zoning text amendments. White also raised the allegation against Bill Duvall, commission chairman. ...The Frostburg resident [David] has owned about a half-acre of land with a trailer for nearly 30 years. The property is adjacent to the current planned wind turbine project atop Dan's Mountain. In addition, Davis' employer has listings in the nearby Harwood subdivision.
Exasperated by rising energy costs, this summer Money Lewis decided it was time to take advantage of the strong breeze that blows across his Selsey Road property.
In July, he signed a $15,000 contract with a Delaware company to set up a 33-foot wind turbine on his .7-acre waterfront property. ...However, he's heard he will have to wait until the county creates an ordinance to dictate the placement of the turbine.
"We don't matter." Two Allegany County residents told members of the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday that certainly seemed to be the case. They spoke of the planned 25-unit wind turbine project atop Dan's Mountain by Dan's Mountain Wind Force LLC, a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based U.S. Wind Force LLC.
Garrett County finally has a new comprehensive plan that will serve as a policy for decisions made by the county's government. ...While the county commissioners did approve a final plan, it was without the protection of ridge tops as sensitive areas. This had been an issue of contention for the commissioners when they discussed their opinions on the draft plan at the September planning commission meeting.
Their concerns were the lack of specification as to the definition of a ridge top or what kind of development would be prevented.
An Allegany County resident's allegations that one or more of the Planning and Zoning Commission members could have a conflict of interest by discussing and voting on wind turbine-related issues gained the attention of the all-volunteer board.
It didn't, however, help facilitate further discussion. The commission Wednesday voted 4-0 to table further discussion until at least the next meeting, scheduled for 3 p.m. on Oct. 6. Members Rodger Uphold, Charles Norris and George Stimmel were not present at the meeting.
[A] state delegate and energy company are teaming up in an attempt to bring the future of energy generation to the former Naval Radio Transmitter Facility.
Del. Ron George, R-Arnold, and Alpha Energy, which is based in Annapolis, are preparing a $30- to $40-million proposal for six to 10 wind turbines near the existing radio towers.
Mr. George and David Murrin and Marcellous Butler of Alpha Energy held a meeting on Monday with government, energy and business officials to start a dialogue with the community.
John Bambacus thinks now is the time to have wind turbine regulations in place in Allegany County "rather than react after the fact."
County Planning Commission member Bill Davis, however, sees no point in modifying the admittedly loose industrial wind turbine regulations currently on the books. Discussion around the two opposite positions could make some headway on Monday at the commission's work session at 3 p.m. at the County Office Complex.
The county is in the process of modifying its definitions and considering other modifications to the zoning code regarding industrial wind energy conversion systems and wind turbines for residential and agricultural uses.