Library filed under Energy Policy from Maryland
Three pieces of legislation introduced by Delegate Wendell Beitzel to regulate the commercial wind energy industry in Garrett County and across the state were rejected by the House Economic Matters Committee.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as energy companies, agree that it's important to bring the renewable energy market to Maryland. But some say the high cost of renewable energy production, the inefficiency of some systems and even potential obstructions to national security might create problems down the road.
If things go as planned, Delaware could be the first state in the U.S. to develop an offshore wind farm. NRG Bluewater Wind estimates it will take two years to obtain necessary permits ...Funding also may impact the project's timeline. Delaware's 200-megawatt offshore wind farm is estimated to cost $1.2 billion. Renewal of a federal tax credit for wind projects and approval of an application for a federal loan guarantee will be key, executives say.
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.
A cross section of elected officials, business leaders and environmentalists came together in Ocean City this week in support of an expedited effort to develop offshore wind farms off the coast of the resort.
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.
State energy officials are gauging interest from developers who would build an offshore farm of electricity-generating, skyscraper-sized wind turbines off the Worcester coastline. "The question is, how do we tap into the wind resources that we've got?" said Maryland Energy Administration Director Malcolm D. Woolf.
The state began its pursuit of offshore wind generation Tuesday, a move that could lead to building 400-foot-tall turbines off Ocean City. The Maryland Energy Administration asked wind developers to express their interest in building industrial-size windmills a dozen or more miles off the state's 31-mile coastline. At the same time, the energy agency said it is launching a study to gauge the economic viability and environmental impact of such a project.
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.
St. Mary's County Commission President Francis Jack Russell (D) met with the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission last week where he hoped the local ordinance allowing personal wind turbines on the county's shoreline would find little resistance. But the state put another 90-day hold on the ordinance. The local process began a year ago in April and wind turbines were approved in the county zoning ordinance in December.
Legislation aiming to put Maryland back toward regulating electricity supply in Maryland is facing turbulence and hurdles in the House of Delegates. The bill, which has the backing of Gov. Martin O'Malley, seeks to return authority over supply that was lost by the state's Public Service Commission after Maryland lawmakers deregulated electricity markets in 1999.
Wayne Spiggle is like many people who feel that harnessing the wind's energy to generate electricity is "a good thing." "But when you realize that to do that changes the character of our traditional, natural landscape, most people want to know that it's worthwhile to sacrifice that," said Spiggle, president of the Mineral County (W.Va.) Commission. Spiggle said an apparent lack of investors and a low efficiency rating combine to compel him to question the viability of industrial wind energy facilities.
The 426th session of the Maryland General Assembly is winding down in Annapolis. But with just a little more than two weeks left, numerous bills introduced by local lawmakers have either not yet been acted upon or died in committees. All of the wind turbine related bills introduced by Del. Wendell Beitzel received unfavorable reports from the House Economic Matters Committee last week. The bills would have provided local and statewide standards for commercial turbines.
They were outnumbered more than 2-to-1. The people who spoke Thursday evening in favor of amendments to Allegany County's zoning code regarding wind energy - 15 people - were far fewer than those who opposed them - 37 people. But 70 percent of the people who wanted the county commissioners to reject wind energy restrictions were not from Allegany County or a contiguous county.
In a typically airless conference room in downtown Baltimore yesterday, the Public Service Commission fast-tracked a proposal for a wind farm in Western Maryland. "Fast," though, is a relative term given that developers have as long as three years to start construction and five for the first turbine to actually start harnessing those mountain breezes and turning them into electricity.
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."
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."
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. ...