Energy Policy and Maryland
O'Malley's latest proposal will cost electric consumers more than $2 billion. It will raise the price of electric power for all Marylanders. Particularly hard hit will be supermarket chains, which consume huge amounts of electricity, industrial plants and small businesses that can ill afford another government-mandated expense.
Among too many political leaders, the argument that carbon-free energy is as much — or more — about “green jobs” as it is about addressing global warming has turned from a politically expedient talking point into an economically dubious article of faith. Confusing the goals of clean energy leads politicians to saddle their states with expensive policies, such as Mr. O’Malley’s green-power protectionism, instead of seeking to secure the best deal for electricity consumers and the environment.
The governor's premise in the referenced article is absurd. How can the governor cap the cost to ratepayers at $2 per month?
The answer is he can't. Actual costs associated with wind generation will be way higher for a number of reasons.
For any economically viable offshore wind proposal, "there's a massive subsidy from the ratepayers involved," said David Wisowaty, CEO of Fenimore Partners, a New York-based consulting firm that specializes in wind energy. "It's always the same issue - the very high cost of offshore power. It just requires some way of getting a high price per kilowatt hour" from consumers.
What O'Malley fails to consider is that the poor economics of this project - potentially huge construction and maintenance costs and higher electric prices for decades to come - won't change by next session.
Nor will the risk factors of placing giant windmills far out into the stormy Atlantic.
Offshore wind is too risky. It's too expensive even as advertised and will probably cost more than that. Although they won't make for flashy talking points if O'Malley runs for president, there are far better and cheaper ways to meet Maryland's energy and environmental goals.
What may explain the need for government intervention is that the O'Malley administration appears to doubt the market potential for wind power. In 2007, the Maryland Public Service Commission paid a consultant more than $2 million to report on future energy options. The report concluded that offshore wind was the most expensive form of energy among all commercially viable choices.
State senator Paul Pinksy (D-Prince George's) and delegate Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery) have filed a bill mandating state utilities enter into long term contracts to purchase wind generated power. ...If the Pinsky-Hucker bill becomes law, Google and it's investment partners will be the only winners and Maryland utility customers will be the losers.
It is remarkable Maryland has proceeded so far without a benefit / cost assessment. Even though the whole point is to reduce electric power system emissions, there has been no evaluation of the impact of the wind farm on electric power system CO2, SO2 and NOx emissions. There has been no evaluation of system-wide cost; how much will Maryland offshore wind increase electric bills?
In any reasonable calculus, the state should insist that electricity be reliable, affordable to all, and secure. Moreover, it should aim to replace aging electricity infrastructure with systems that produce high levels of capacity value. And it should seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in electricity production.
So-called "renewables" like wind and solar are inimical to all these goals.
This ruling also puts the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, an agency whose mission includes the protection of endangered species, in an awkward position. Current Maryland law exempts any industrial wind plant project from a comprehensive environmental review process if its generating capacity is limited to 70MW or less. This exemption was passed two years ago after being pushed by Wayne Rogers, a well-connected entrepreneur who has been a generous donor to Democratic campaigns across the state and the country, is a former state Democratic Party chairman, served as chairman of Governor O'Malley's Energy Transition Team, and just happens to be president of Synergics LLC, the company that will build one of the two approved projects in Garrett County.
Once again, you have made a farce out of the democratic process by remaining silent and secretive over the past seven years while avoiding a reasonable moratorium or making any comment on this matter until the last several weeks.
Some serious realism and a sense of public purpose is needed, and not the arrogant and incompetent actions that seem to permeate this administration.
As taxpayers of Allegany County, Maryland and residents of Harwood Subdivision located adjacent to the proposed Dan's Mountain Wind Project, we are in favor of zoning regulations for industrial wind farms and support Code Home Rule Bill No. 2-09.
The proposed regulations will play a vital role in providing protection to property owners that presently does not exist.
Recently, Senate Bill 771, which would set up a study committee in the legislature to formulate statewide performance standards for industrial wind turbines, died in the House of Delegates without even the courtesy of a committee vote. As you will recall, this proposal by Senator Edwards received a favorable Senate Finance Committee vote and a 45-0 vote from the full Senate. This means that there are no safety, health or environmental protections against industrial wind turbines at the local or state level.
It took legislators decades to establish agencies and laws to protect the environment, and Gov. O'Malley one legislative session to strip Allegany and Garrett counties of these protections.
The 2008 Fast-Track legislation denies review and restrictions for wind turbine development by the Department of Environment, Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland Energy Administration and the Department of Natural Resources, and of obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Public Service Commission (PSC). All other counties in Maryland have these agencies protecting them.
Illegal, unhealthful noise and devaluations of nearby property are only two of the many documented adverse consequences that flow out from massive wind installations. The Criterion project in particular will also devastate hundreds of acres of sensitive habitat, putting at risk much wildlife, some species of which are extremely vulnerable. The county commissioners endorsed this project last month without investigating what it would do to people and property here; this is a chilling take of how avarice overwhelms the common good. Pimping these beautiful mountains away for unsecured revenues represents values I neither understand nor respect.
Gov. Martin O'Malley is to announce his administration's long-awaited decision on Saturday in western Maryland about whether to allow wind farms in state forests.
State officials won't say what the decision is in this long-running debate, which has divided environmentalists and drawn overflow crowds to public meetings in western Maryland and in Annapolis. ...Some think he may announce a "split decision," saying that wind turbines may be permitted on state lands but only if they pass strict environmental review. The head of the Maryland Energy Administration, Malcolm Woolf, will be with O'Malley for the announcement, according to an invitation e-mailed to one person by Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin. That makes some think O'Malley's likely to give a nudge of some sort to wind power ...But others take heart from O'Malley's choice of locations for his announcement ...
Department of Natural Resources officials announced that industrial wind development seemed appropriate for state land in Garrett County because so much private land will soon be planted with massive wind turbines. Given last year's legislative wind deregulation bill, so rife with cronyism, they're right.
Now all a limited liability wind corporation need do to set up shop in Western Maryland is apply to the Public Service Commission, negotiate in secret with the grid for transmission line access, and get the PSC to hold a public hearing in the area. Even if 500 residents came to the hearing to oppose the project, with only a few approving, this outpouring would have no outcome on the permit.
Sentiment against the proposal is running deep and strong. ...
While we are all for the "green" movement and alternative forms of energy, we agree with opponents who are worried about what 40-story high windmills will do the aesthetics of Garrett County. As was pointed out at the hearing, structures of that height easily dwarf anything else in Garrett County, including the seven Wisp ski resort. ...Before the project can go forward, the Department of Natural Resources has to adopt a policy on whether to allow turbines on state lands.
The state's forests in Garrett County are among the most beautiful and pristine sites in Maryland. Marring them with skyscraper wind turbines would seriously mar that beauty.
"Renewable power mandates merely accentuate the inefficiency and cost premiums attached to so-called renewable power sources," said Jerry Taylor, director of natural resource studies at the Cato Institute. "If renewable power saved consumers money, created jobs, or carried any of the other economic benefits so frequently claimed by environmental activists, then government would not have to pass a law to force power companies to purchase it or consumers to buy it."