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.
Backers of offshore development point out that the winds off Maryland's coast are strong, a nearby energy resource that the state should exploit. But if the most efficient way to meet the mandate is to build offshore wind farms, then offshore wind farms will prosper under existing policy. If it's not, then they should not be built.
There is nothing in this bill or in any other Maryland law or regulation that will guarantee or limit how much a ratepayer will have to pay extra for offshore wind-generated energy. If this bill is passed and if a developer succeeds in building an offshore wind farm, don't be surprised if the surcharge exceeds $1.50 in 2012 dollars.
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.
But some, including a number of Republicans, are questioning both the $2-a-month cost figure and the forecast of jobs for Marylanders.
In fact, searching through a number of studies shows how difficult it is to come up with reliable numbers on wind energy costs.
Like most Marylanders, I want electric power that is cheap and clean. However, I oppose offshore wind — because it is not cheap, and wind systems are not clean.
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.
The proposed Calvert Cliffs 3 nuclear reactor would be sited on about 350 acres. The 1,200 offshore wind turbines needed to produce the same amount of energy would require 74,000 acres. Onshore, 2,400 turbines would be needed and would require 8,500 acres. This is a lot of land or water and a big impact on the rich mountain ecosystems and habitats or ocean ecosystems about which we know little.
Over the last five years, environmental degradation to our beautiful natural landscape is occurring without the public's knowledge as closed-door negotiations among local and state government and energy companies take place. And, of course there is very limited federal, state, and local regulatory oversight.
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?
Shame on the county commissioners for allowing this to continue and shame on the Maryland legislators for rejecting Delegate Beitzel's legislation to allow the commissioners to establish some controls such as boundary set backs (a day late and a dollar short).
Finally, shame on us for allowing the eastern wind barons to bamboozle the citizens of both counties.
Industrial wind is perhaps the silliest modern energy idea imaginable. In the final analysis, it's a faith-based proposition, requiring people to close their minds and clap their hands to revive it from a life-and-death struggle against unbelief, bringing the technology back from the oblivion that the steam engine consigned it to hundreds of years ago.
Throwing vast amounts of the public's treasure down the rathole of wind is to deny investment in infinitely more effective technologies -- such as nuclear -- that will preserve the energy requirements of modernity. It is incredibly irresponsible.
After being immersed in the windmill debate via our newspaper for more than a year - and openly looking at the issue from both sides - I personally do not support the project. But it's not my call to make - it is a decision that should be decided by the residents of Tazewell County.
At the public hearing on the project, 71 individuals spoke in favor of the ridgeline ordinance, while 18 spoke against it. That's an overwhelming anti-windmill majority.
Wellfleet residents would be making a big mistake if they backed the proposed 400-foot wind turbine in the White Crest Beach area. There are simply too many instances of towns regretting decisions to fast track plans to be in the forefront of the green energy movement.
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.