Article

Planned wind farm in Maryland blown away by military objections

What killed the Maryland project?  Well, ostensibly: the Department of Defense.  It turns out that the military gets antsy when you put up giant (575-foot) towers around an air base.

A planned wind farm in Somerset County, Maryland has been cancelled over objections from a nearby air base.

Turns out that national security can still trump Big Green. A project that planned to litter Somerset County with crony-capitalist, taxpayer-subsidized, bird-killing, whirling scythes of death got canned after lawmakers realized that you probably shouldn’t have that sort of thing near a military air base.

At the heart of this particular issue is that a company called Pioneer Green Energy (PGE) has tried and failed to put up wind turbines in Somerset County, Maryland. PGE is actually rather bad at setting up wind farms; it’s been spending the last few years turning $20 million in funding into failed wind projects in Alabama, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania–and now, Maryland.

What killed the Maryland project? Well, ostensibly: the Department of Defense. It turns out that the military gets antsy when you put up giant (575-foot) towers around an air base.

The real problem here for wind energy’s particular flavor of crony capitalism is something called the wind production tax credit (PTC). The PTC has been used to prop up wind companies for decades; the subsidy was supposedly designed to give them a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A planned wind farm in Somerset County, Maryland has been cancelled over objections from a nearby air base.

Turns out that national security can still trump Big Green. A project that planned to litter Somerset County with crony-capitalist, taxpayer-subsidized, bird-killing, whirling scythes of death got canned after lawmakers realized that you probably shouldn’t have that sort of thing near a military air base.

At the heart of this particular issue is that a company called Pioneer Green Energy (PGE) has tried and failed to put up wind turbines in Somerset County, Maryland. PGE is actually rather bad at setting up wind farms; it’s been spending the last few years turning $20 million in funding into failed wind projects in Alabama, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania–and now, Maryland.

What killed the Maryland project?  Well, ostensibly: the Department of Defense.  It turns out that the military gets antsy when you put up giant (575-foot) towers around an air base.

The real problem here for wind energy’s particular flavor of crony capitalism is something called the wind production tax credit (PTC). The PTC has been used to prop up wind companies for decades; the subsidy was supposedly designed to give them a chance to set up their business, then wean themselves from the subsidy once they were profita… nevermind.

Seriously, obviously what happened instead was that the wind power companies grew used to the government propping up their wind farms. Unfortunately for those companies, conservative groups hate subsidizing ‘green’ energy. I mean: they really, really hate it–and, perhaps shockingly, Republicans in Congress have actually been taking the hint.

The PTC was scheduled to expire in 2013, but a Democratic Senate passed a last-minute retroactive extension for the 2014 calendar year. The GOP-controlled Senate has so far declined to extend the PTC, which means that any wind project started this year has no guarantee of getting the credit.

All of which wouldn’t be a problem, except that wind turbine farms are apparently one of those things that people like… very, very far away. Wind turbines are big. They kill birds. They make weird noises that make people nervous. They kill birds. They are an eyesore. They kill birds. Every so often, one of them explodes. And, again, they kill birds.

And if you’re wondering why the blessed things are still getting built, then… why, it’s because there was a subsidy. Anybody can make a ‘profit’ when the taxpayer is covering part of the operating costs, after all.

And that leads us back to Maryland. Interestingly, the Somerset County wind farm issue cropped up last year, with the same objections in place as now. In fact, it was so problematic that the Maryland state Legislature actually passed a bill delaying the project until 2015.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley vetoed that bill, arguing that passing the bill “would send a chilling message to clean energy investors, developers, manufacturers, construction firms, engineers and sustainable businesses that the state can change the rules in the eleventh hour.”

Since then, the U.S. Senate decided to send an equally chilling message (from O’Malley’s point of view): the spigot is about to be turned off. I suspect that a lot of communities are going to demonstrate that they have received that message, nicely loud and clear.

This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.

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Moe Lane
Moe Lane is a contributor for RedState, a hardcore science fiction geek, a general gadfly, and can make a roux. This, of course, makes him perfect for discussing complicated, if not actually arcane policy situations.
moe@moelane.com
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Source: http://watchdog.org/212626/...

APR 16 2015
http://www.windaction.org/posts/43790-planned-wind-farm-in-maryland-blown-away-by-military-objections
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