Library filed under Energy Policy from Maryland
CUMBERLAND - Industrial wind turbines' efficiency and reliability are getting better as technology improves, according to an Annapolis-based wind industry engineer.
It took legislators decades to establish agencies and laws to protect the environment, and Gov. O'Malley one legislative session to strip Allegany and Garrett counties of these protections. The 2008 Fast-Track legislation denies review and restrictions for wind turbine development by the Department of Environment, Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland Energy Administration and the Department of Natural Resources, and of obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Public Service Commission (PSC). All other counties in Maryland have these agencies protecting them.
Despite living in a state that hopes to become a leader in energy efficiency, people like the Flesches are discovering that obtaining approval to install turbines is difficult. The struggle is not with the state or even the power companies. The struggle is with county and local governments - many of which do not have laws in effect to deal with wind turbines.
The Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday resumed discussion of the bonding and interference policies related to potential commercial or industrial wind energy installations. ...At issue is the bond amount the county could require wind energy companies to post. Hager presented a draft proposal to the county's zoning text that would require a $150,000 bond until an abandoned wind turbine has been taken down and the land restored similar to its original condition.
Gov. Martin O'Malley has garnered national attention for his goal of reducing Maryland's energy consumption 15 percent by 2015, but his Public Service Commission, which regulates the industry, has rejected nearly every power-saving program proposed by BGE, the state's largest utility. The commission, in an order last week, sent Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. back to the drawing board on all but one of the conservation and energy-efficiency programs submitted for approval. The commission said it would not saddle ratepayers with the total cost - $274 million - after determining that administrative expenses are too high and the payoff in terms of the number of people who would benefit is too uncertain.
Gov. Martin O'Malley admits he's not really sure how to best solve complex problems relating to looming energy shortfalls. But he said Saturday that state regulators are exploring how to direct utilities to find or produce new power generation sources. O'Malley said regulators are looking at ways to make companies address any "supply shortfalls that the market is not reasonably expected to deliver in time for us to keep the lights on in 2011 or 2012 and the years that follow."
A Maryland company and another in New Jersey hope to build wind farms at opposite ends of Maryland.
Frostburg resident John Bambacus wrote Delegate Wendell Beitzel in February, asking him to sponsor the repeal of a law passed in 2007 that exempts industrial wind farms from public scrutiny. He asked again this week in light of Gov. Martin O'Malley's apparent willingness to consider being a part of an industrial wind energy facility off the shores of Ocean City. This time, the former state senator received the answer he wanted. ...Right now, "land-based wind turbines are on a fast-track (approval process). They get no environmental, health or safety review" from the Maryland Public Service Commission, the Department of the Environment or other agencies, much less the general public.
Illegal, unhealthful noise and devaluations of nearby property are only two of the many documented adverse consequences that flow out from massive wind installations. The Criterion project in particular will also devastate hundreds of acres of sensitive habitat, putting at risk much wildlife, some species of which are extremely vulnerable. The county commissioners endorsed this project last month without investigating what it would do to people and property here; this is a chilling take of how avarice overwhelms the common good. Pimping these beautiful mountains away for unsecured revenues represents values I neither understand nor respect.
Jon Boone, an intervenor on the Clipper Wind proposal before the Maryland PSC presented these comments to the PSC in regard to Case No: 8938 Criterion Wind. The Criterion Wind project is the same project as the Clipper Wind proposal only reduced down to 70MW to qualify for fast-track review.
The Maryland Public Service Commission will make the official decision on the Criterion Power Partners, LLC wind project on Backbone Mountain next week, but already PSC staff is recommending the company's request. "Staff recommends that the Commission grant Criterion's application," the recommendation reads. "... and advise Criterion that an exemption from the (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) requirement does not limit the authority of any state or local authority ..." The document, available through the PSC Web site, states that Criterion, a subsidiary of Clipper Windpower Inc. of Carpinteria, Calif., will have to go through the necessary permitting processes, and that it should also include the approval of a stormwater/sediment erosion permit by Garrett County agencies, as the county had requested be done prior to the acceptance of the application.
"The announcement the other day wasn't an announcement against wind energy or alternative energy. It was an announcement to preserve the public lands that we hold in trust for future generations," said Rick Abbruzzese, an O'Malley spokesman. "The governor is interested in doing all that we can to find alternative energy sources here in Maryland," he said. "But it didn't make sense to do at this particular state park." O'Malley's decision has "absolutely no impact" on the renewable portfolio standards or RPS bill ..."
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced yesterday morning that he will bar commercial wind turbines from state-owned land, satisfying Western Maryland opponents of the turbines but disappointing supporters of the wind energy industry. Speaking at a scenic overlook in the Savage River State Forest in Garrett County, O'Malley said the state remains committed to exploring renewable energy sources but said the wind energy industry should look to other land for large-scale wind farms. "While we must continue to explore and make progress on creating a more sustainable and independent energy future for Maryland, we will not do so at the expense of the special land we hold in the public trust," he said. ...The idea attracted considerable opposition from residents who feared the turbines would mar the area's natural beauty and hurt tourism. "A big part of our economy is based on tourism. You'd have to put in roads, dig up property to put these things in," said Sen. George C. Edwards (R-Garrett). "It would distract from the scenery of the forestlands."
In all, nearly 100 people attended the 45-minute presentation. After the meeting, Fannie Johnson, an Oakland native, thanked Griffin for helping to preserve "God's country." Delegate Wendell Beitzel, who in January joined state Sen. George Edwards in opposing the placement of wind turbines on public lands, called O'Malley's news "a wonderful announcement." "We were real concerned about the potential loss of our state parks and public lands," Beitzel said. "This city guy gets it," Griffin told Beitzel of O'Malley, a former Baltimore mayor. Edgerley noted that projects such as the one proposed by U.S. Wind Force on Meadow Mountain could create jobs. But much of the criticism of this particular project was its placement on public land, he said. "I think the issue of where they go has been resolved," Edgerley said. ...Former state Sen. John Bambacus, an opponent of wind turbines on state land, felt his concerns had been listened to by local officials and O'Malley, who noted Bambacus' effort during his remarks. Bambacus said he woke up Saturday morning "cautiously optimistic" about O'Malley's announcement.
Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to announce today that his administration will prohibit the construction of wind turbines in Maryland's state forests and parks, according to administration sources. The decision ends a hotly protested proposal by a Pennsylvania company to clear about 400 mountaintop acres in two Western Maryland state forests to build 100 wind turbines. O'Malley is scheduled to announce his decision this morning atop a scenic mountain overlook in Savage River State Forest that would have been altered by 40-story windmills. ...O'Malley listened to both sides but finally sided with preserving open space. "The governor feels very strongly that ... we need to protect our conservation lands because we hold them in trust for future generations," said one administration source. Maryland has no wind farms today.
Gov. Martin O'Malley is to announce his administration's long-awaited decision on Saturday in western Maryland about whether to allow wind farms in state forests. State officials won't say what the decision is in this long-running debate, which has divided environmentalists and drawn overflow crowds to public meetings in western Maryland and in Annapolis. ...Some think he may announce a "split decision," saying that wind turbines may be permitted on state lands but only if they pass strict environmental review. The head of the Maryland Energy Administration, Malcolm Woolf, will be with O'Malley for the announcement, according to an invitation e-mailed to one person by Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin. That makes some think O'Malley's likely to give a nudge of some sort to wind power ...But others take heart from O'Malley's choice of locations for his announcement ...
Gov. Martin O'Malley has decided against allowing private companies to build windmills on state park land in western Maryland, WBAL TV 11 News has learned. The governor strongly supports developing solar and wind energy. Wind power is a pollution-free energy source that can generate enough electricity to power 55,000 households. But clear-cutting acres of state forests to install the windmills is being met with overwhelming public opposition, and the governor is choosing to put the quality-of-life of those most impacted ahead of profits, 11 News reporter David Collins said.
The governor's office will not reveal its decision until Saturday morning, but he is expected to say no to wind turbines on public land. "The picture people have now of the beautiful cascading mountains; 450-million-year-old mountains rising up out of the mist will be completely replaced by massive, skyscraper-sized industrial development, and that is all that people will see," said Jon Boone, Friends of Backbone Mountain. "What are the drivers for the windmills; it is money. ..."
Gov. Martin O'Malley has scheduled a trip to western Maryland to announce whether his administration will allow wind turbines on state forest land. ...The planned announcement will cap four months of heated debate over a company's proposal to lease and clear hundreds of acres in the western mountains to erect about 100 turbines for electricity generation.
A bill that would have committed Maryland to fight global warming died in a House committee last night after lobbying from industry and from factory workers fearful for their jobs. The Economic Matters Committee voted against the measure, which had been endorsed by Gov. Martin O'Malley and had passed the Senate, albeit in a weakened form. The bill would have mandated a 25 percent reduction by 2020 in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which scientific authorities say are warming the climate. It also would have set a goal of curbing emissions 90 percent by 2050. O'Malley said he was disappointed that the bill failed, but "glad we had the debate." He predicted that the bill would be back.