Library from Maryland
Dan's Mountain Windforce is asking the Maryland Public Service Commission to extend the deadline to begin building the wind farm to Sept. 12, 2013.
Despite broad public support and overwhelming support in one branch of the Legislature, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's Offshore Wind Energy Act once again died in the Senate on the last day of the legislative calendar.
A petition signed by 39 residents asks Garrett County commissioners to impose realistic setbacks or ordinances that would protect families and homes from a proposed wind farm on Four Mile Ridge and part of Big Savage Mountain.
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.
The legislation passed the House but has remained stuck in the Senate Finance Committee since Valentine's Day. WBAL-TV 11 News reporter David Collins said six votes are needed for passage, but the vote count stood at five on Wednesday.
Despite a push from the governor, Republicans and many Democrats have been reluctant to accept the proposal because of the strong likelihood that implementing offshore wind - which is currently a more expensive energy source than coal or natural gas - will cause residents' energy bills to go up.
During floor debate Thursday, the House adopted an amendment from House Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-Dist. 37B) of Newcomb to exempt ratepayers who farm their land from paying the extra fee on the first 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity they use in a month.
The Maryland House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee has advanced a bill that would give the Garrett County commissioners the authority to enact ordinances relating to setbacks and the decommissioning of wind turbines, according to a news release.
Two consulting firms that work for the BPU said that "net benefits of the project were not demonstrated" and "key underlying assumptions of applicants' cost-benefit analysis were not adequately substantiated." Both firms said Fishermen's Energy did not factor in the possible loss of jobs if customers switch from conventional power plants to hydropower.
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) asked the state's congressional delegation Monday to advocate for funds to create jobs and for an offshore wind project. "There is no progress without jobs," O'Malley told the lawmakers Monday afternoon during a presentation of his 2012 congressional priorities.
Dominion said the right-of-way should be awarded only if the transmission line is approved by the region's electricity grid operator, PJM Interconnection, and after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management awards leases to energy companies seeking to build offshore wind turbines.
The $4.8 million is enough to cover the cost of construction, plus the Delmarva Power study because the project has been scaled down after officials at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County expressed concerns that turbines will interfere with radar systems.
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.
Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-Howard, said he also has concerns about whether the $2-a-month cap is realistic. "My concern is the fact that when you piggyback all the costs together, it does get to be more than $2 a month," Kittleman said. O'Malley said it would probably be another five to six years before ratepayers even see a change in their utility bills.
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.
In a sweetener for the power industry, the administration has scrapped the old bill's requirement that utilities sign long-term contracts under which they would have had to purchase off-shore wind energy. ...But the new proposal would still provide a market for the wind farm's energy by requiring suppliers to get a set amount of their power from wind.
O'Malley, who failed to get a wind-power bill through the General Assembly last year, is expected to announce details of new legislation Monday. But this time around, O'Malley may have to take into account labor's demand to have its role guaranteed in the legislation. If not resolved, the issue could split the union-environmentalist coalition that backed the bill last year.