Library from Maryland
Dominion Power and the Grant County Commission responded to a Mount Storm resident's concerns about the potential for ice on the blades of wind turbines this winter. Bruce Halgren of Mount Storm appeared before commissioners Jim Wilson, Charlie Goldizen and Jim Cole Tuesday. He said that he is concerned that the proximity of some of the NedPower wind turbines being constructed along Grassy Ridge Road could present a safety hazard to motorists from ice and debris being thrown off by the turbine blades in the wintertime.
The PSC approved the project in 2003, but also established a set of requirements for Savage Mountain, including a time frame that ends in 2008. The approval also required the company to conduct additional study of the project’s effect on birds and bats — though that study does not have to be released until the project is operating. The conditions were negotiated with D. Daniel Boone, a Bowie environmental consultant who intervened in the case. He said he opposed an extension of time without a wider renegotiation of the approval.
This important peer-reviewed paper written by bat expert Dr. Thomas H. Kunz et al identifies the significant risk wind turbines pose for migratory and local bat populations in the mid-Atlantic Highlands region of the United States. The projected number of annual fatalities of bats at wind energy facilities in the Highlands in the year 2020 can reach up to 111,000 bats.
When his plan for clean energy ran smack into a rare habitat on a rocky Appalachian ridge, Annapolis businessman Wayne L. Rogers turned to people he knew could help: his contacts in the Maryland General Assembly. State law and the environmental protections it afforded all but scuttled his proposal last year for 24 windmills atop Backbone Mountain at the state's western edge. So Rogers waged a successful campaign to have the law changed -- and environmental review gutted -- for wind-energy projects such as his.
Legislators in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic passed a number of bills applying to the electric power industry, with several states committing to emissions reductions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other states making broad organizational changes to their regulatory processes.
The wind power law allows developers to build wind farms without a certificate of public convenience from the Maryland Public Service Commission. While critics argued it will cut out public input on wind projects, the law's supporters said the law only removes extra environmental reviews that were stifling wind power development in Maryland. Frank Maisano, a spokesman for a coalition of Mid-Atlantic wind-power developers, said the law was needed to help the state meet goals for Maryland-produced renewable power. But critics say that under the new law, strides toward renewable power could come at the expense of wildlife.
Frederick County's federal elected representatives are keeping an open mind about a proposed power line that would end in Kemptown. U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-6) touted the benefits of the proposed twin-500 volt power line that will run through parts of the county in a statement Friday. "Residents and businesses in the Sixth District expect to have electricity for heat, light and air conditioning when they need it," he said. "In addition to these benefits, an upgraded transmission system could accommodate more renewable energy generation, such as wind or solar power." The state's two senators, however, were more reserved when discussing the line.
Opponents of a wind turbine facility in Garrett County went zero-for-two Thursday when the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled a second time that their challenge had not been properly executed. In both cases, local business and land-owners challenged the way the Public Service Commission approved Clipper Windpower Inc.'s construction of a 41-acre project along Backbone Mountain. In the latest appeal, dubbed "Clipper II," the state's highest court upheld a lower court's dismissal of the opponents' request for a declaratory judgment against the project. The Garrett County Circuit Court found that it would be "inappropriate" to consider a declaratory judgment while another case involving the same parties and issues, called Clipper I, was pending before the Court of Special Appeals. Thus, the circuit court argued, the petitioners did not exhaust all other remedies provided them under state law.
WASHINGTON - The House rejected a resolution Wednesday that would block government plans to spur construction of major new power lines in many states regardless of local opposition. The issue has been contentious in parts of the East Coast and in the Southwest, where two high priority transmission corridors for power lines were proposed. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., warned colleagues that unwanted power lines could come to their district.
The state Court of Appeals cleared a California energy company yesterday to build what would be Maryland's first windmill farm, a 42-turbine facility along Backbone Mountain in Garrett County. The wind farm was approved by the Public Service Commission in 2003, though it was not built because the developer, Clipper Windpower Inc., initially was unable to induce utility companies to buy power from the facility. The project now has utility customers and is expected to proceed.
Maryland's highest court on Friday cleared the way for a wind-power project in Garrett County that was challenged by a neighbor. The court unanimously ruled that the challenge by Eric Tribbey to the 67-turbine project was not valid.
he United States Department of Energy issued a proposal yesterday that could reopen the way for a 190-mile high-voltage transmission line through central New York that state and local officials tried to block last year. The department declared a multistate area from West Virginia to upstate New York a "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor," where congestion of existing power lines makes the electricity grid unreliable and subject to blackouts.
Clipper Windpower Inc.'s quest to put a wind turbine project in Western Maryland was deflated again - this time by the Court of Special Appeals, which revived a claim that the company reneged on its earlier settlement agreement. Objector D. Daniel Boone claims that California-based Clipper reconfigured the project it agreed to in 2003, in an agreement that allowed the project to move forward. "They unilaterally changed the plans," said Boone, a former employee of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He is challenging the Public Service Commission's 2005 approval of Clipper's request to build larger, but fewer, turbines at the Criterion project in Garrett County.
A bill to reduce environmental reviews required of wind turbine proposals in Maryland has breezed through the General Assembly, a move lauded by industry leaders pushing for renewable forms of energy in the state. The House of Delegates and Senate passed identical versions of the bill by overwhelming margins Friday. Gov. Martin O'Malley is reviewing the proposed legislation and is inclined to sign it into law, his spokesman, Rick Abbruzzese, said yesterday.
Lawmakers agreed Friday on a measure that will make it easier to build large wind power projects in Maryland, after the Senate voted 40-6 to agree to a similar bill passed in the House with amendments. The measure would allow developers to build wind farms that generate electricity for the wholesale market by eliminating environmental reviews looking at the potential impact on wildlife, endangered species and forest fragmentation that currently are part of the Public Service Commission's approval process.
Long-stalled efforts to develop wind-powered turbine fields in Western Maryland have shifted this year to the state capital, where the firepower behind the proposed legislation is potent. The Senate earlier this week passed a bill that would streamline the public approval process for wind-generating stations, which proponents argue will put Maryland on par with other states that have already invested millions of dollars in renewable energy. The key figure asking the state to relax its regulations is Wayne Rogers, a well-connected entrepreneur who has been a generous donor to Democratic campaigns across the state and the country, according to campaign finance figures. Rogers, a former state Democratic Party chairman, led Gov. Martin O'Malley's transition team on energy. His Annapolis firm, Synergics Energy Services LLC, wants to build a wind farm on Maryland's tallest mountain ridge in Garrett County.
States with renewable portfolio standards have generated growth in the renewable energy sector, but many of the Appalachian states don't have one. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York all have some fairly progressive goals, but West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee don't have a state RPS and wind projects often ignite battles.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and other leading Democrats are sponsoring a bill that would cut back the state's environmental review of proposals to build large wind turbines. Supporters of the bill include wind energy developer Wayne Rogers, former chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, whose proposal to build up to 20 turbines in Garrett County has drawn objections from the state Department of Natural Resources. Opponents of a streamlined permit process worry that it would eliminate the public hearings now required before developers can clear forested mountaintops to build 40-story turbines that mar scenic views.
Democracy and regulatory red tape can indeed be a tedious business. But that doesn’t excuse a move under way in the General Assembly to exempt a politically well-connected wind power developer from a long-established review process that has imposed thoughtful limits on his project. The proposal so thoroughly excludes citizen participation in reviewing this and future projects they wouldn’t even get a public hearing. Wind power may prove part of the answer to Maryland’s energy needs, but successful turbine projects must be able to withstand thorough scrutiny by the Public Service Commission, with the expert advice of all relevant state agencies and the comments of any interested citizens.
This document includes studies in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.