Library from Maryland
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.
An alert was issued to the birding community in Maryland about a bill that has been proposed in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate that would expedite the construction of wind farms at will. If you live in Maryland and care about the environment and wildlife, please contact your representatives in Annapolis and urge them to oppose this bill. The bill would eliminate any requirement for any public review or notification — or even informing adjacent land owners whose property values could plummet. Nor would there be any environmental review of the impact on wildlife, endangered species, or forest fragmentation. All an applicant for a wind project would have to do is request a construction permit from the Public Service Commission. Nobody is trying to keep wind farms out of the state — only to keep them subject to adequate review to ensure that the locations and construction methods that are chosen will not harm birds and other wildlife and plants.
Edison Mission Group and a private Pennsylvania-based wind farm developer said they have agreed to develop up to 1,000 megawatts of mostly onshore wind energy throughout the U.S. mid-Atlantic. Edison Mission, which manages the power business of Edison International, made the agreement with US Wind Force LLC to develop wind farms over the next several years that would feed PJM power grid that includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia and parts of North Carolina.
The public is invited to attend an informative meeting about the possibilities of wind and solar energy in Western Maryland during a Renewable Energy Focus Group meeting at 5 p.m. Jan. 18 in the FSU Compton Science Building, room 226.
Rube Goldberg would admire the utter purity of the pretensions of wind technology in pursuit of a safer modern world, claiming to be saving the environment while wreaking havoc upon it. But even he might be astonished by the spin of wind industry spokesmen. Consider the comments made by the American Wind Industry Association.s Christina Real de Azua in the wake of the virtual nonperformance of California.s more than 13,000 wind turbines in mitigating the electricity crisis precipitated by last July.s .heat storm.. .You really don.t count on wind energy as capacity,. she said. .It is different from other technologies because it can.t be dispatched.. (84) The press reported her comments solemnly without question, without even a risible chortle. Because they perceive time to be running out on fossil fuels, and the lure of non-polluting wind power is so seductive, otherwise sensible people are promoting it at any cost, without investigating potential negative consequences-- and with no apparent knowledge of even recent environmental history or grid operations. Eventually, the pedal of wishful thinking and political demagoguery will meet the renitent metal of reality in the form of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (85) and public resistance, as it has in Denmark and Germany. Ironically, support for industrial wind energy because of a desire for reductions in fossil-fueled power and their polluting emissions leads ineluctably to nuclear power, particularly under pressure of relentlessly increasing demand for reliable electricity. Environmentalists who demand dependable power generation at minimum environmental risk should take care about what they wish for, more aware that, with Rube Goldberg machines, the desired outcome is unlikely to be achieved. Subsidies given to industrial wind technology divert resources that could otherwise support effective measures, while uninformed rhetoric on its behalf distracts from the discourse.and political action-- necessary for achieving more enlightened policy.
Bowie-based conservation biologist D. Daniel Boone, another Synergics intervenor, said Rogers’ call for less regulation indicates that amid growing opposition, the wind industry “wants to short-circuit any meaningful public participation and review process.” Opposition to wind farms has increased, even in wind-friendly Pennsylvania, which Rogers cited as a model. Kerry L. Campbell, wind-energy specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, told the Maryland Wind Working Group workshop in Bethesda that people reared in his state’s mountainous coal country tend to welcome wind farms as a cleaner, less destructive energy source. But he said city folks who have moved to the countryside “don’t want to see turbines.”
Maryland may be lagging behind some Appalachian neighbors in terms of wind energy development, but officials, regulators and developers in the state are determined to improve the climate. There are no commercial wind projects in the ground here yet, though developers have proposed three projects that would produce 180 megawatts of power.
Be wary of individuals preaching the benefits while avoiding mention of ill effects from wind turbines. They probably are set to make a bundle off the things.
The state’s attempt to balance wind power generation with wildlife protection on a western Maryland mountaintop is under attack from both sides. Annapolis-based developer Synergics Inc. is appealing a Public Service Commission hearing examiner’s Oct. 30 recommendation for approval of the company’s 17-turbine project atop Backbone Mountain in Garrett County. Synergics’ appeal will focus on conditions proposed by the Department of Natural Resources to protect habitat for rare and endangered species, the company’s spokesman said Friday. Five opponents of the project, including Baltimore-based environmental activist Ajax Eastman and the Maryland Alliance for Greenway Improvement and Conservation, also have appealed the recommended order. Most of them believe the environmental restrictions don’t go far enough.
Synergics Wind Energy is appealing the Oct. 30 decision made by hearing examiner David L. Moore, Maryland Public Service Commission. The examiner had approved the company’s application to build wind turbines in Garrett County, but with several environmental restrictions. At the October hearing, Moore okayed 24 conditions recommended by the Department of Natural Resources, including one that would prevent construction of the wind turbines in two areas in order to help preserve habitat for rare species.
No matter what conclusions the PSC reaches, the fate of the commission's members seems to be sealed. Leaders of both the Senate and House want them replaced, and so does O'Malley. The second-ranking person on O'Malley's transition team is Baltimore City Solicitor Ralph Tyler, who represented the city in a lawsuit against the PSC. Legislation to reform and replace the commission seems like a certainty, and O'Malley aides are drawing up a list of potential replacements, according to political consultants and analysts. Neumann says she is drawing up a list of candidates for a new PSC. The candidates include a former Maryland state energy official, an expert on wind power and an expert on energy efficiency.
A state Public Service Commission hearing examiner has recommended approval of a western Maryland wind power project - but with environmental restrictions that the developer has said could force it to reconsider. The proposed order will become final on November 30th unless it is appealed before then.
FPL Group, Inc. (NYSE: FPL) and Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) today announced they have reached a joint and amicable agreement to terminate their plans to merge. Constellation Energy initiated a request to end the planned merger, citing continued uncertainty over regulatory and judicial matters in Maryland and the potential for a protracted and open-ended merger review process.
The state says it is now accepting applications for a new program that loans anemometers, or devices that measures wind resources. The Maryland Energy Administration hopes the devices will support landowners who are interested in wind energy as an alternative energy source.