Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Maryland
Rick Meehan vetoed his first city ordinance as mayor of Ocean City this week, sending a message to the council that its stance on wind turbine usage in Ocean City was a bit too conservative. In a rare occurrence in local government, Meehan flexed his veto power on the recent passage of the ordinance allowing wind turbines in Ocean City after one of the area's most vocal proponents of the alternative energy conduits was finding it difficult to move forward with his planned project.
Allegany County government is refusing to accept any permit related to industrial wind energy facilities until the state Public Service Commission determines the fate of a project atop Dan's Mountain. The PSC conducted a public hearing Jan. 21 at Frostburg State University to gather public input on a U.S. Wind Force project ...Judge Joel M. Bright, chief hearing examiner for the commission, said the issue at hand was whether "the safety and reliability of the grid system is not jeopardized" by the project.
The 4-1 vote Wednesday, with members Bill David and Ted Robinette absent, came despite commission member Lois Crossland's objections to the zoning code text amendments as proposed. The document, still in its original form as presented to the public in January, will go before the Allegany County Commission. Thursday, the commissioners scheduled a public hearing on the issue for March 19 at 7 p.m. Crossland said the amendments don't go far enough "to protect citizens" and that blasting isn't mentioned in the document.
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."
Two western Maryland lawmakers have introduced legislation reversing a 2007 law that allows wind power projects to breeze through the review process. The bills introduced by Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel would end the possibility of "fast-track" regulatory approval for wind farms.
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."
Disputing what's been called a "dialogue," several guests at Monday's US WindForce community meeting felt questions have gone unanswered just as the company recently announced its intention to file an application with the Public Service Commission for 23 wind turbines comprising the Pinnacle Wind Farm.
The Hagerstown Planning Commission decided Wednesday to look into adopting state-recommended regulations for appearance, lot size, setbacks, sound levels and ground clearance for wind turbines. Research presented at Wednesday's meeting showed wind turbines probably would not be cost-efficient in the city, where wind is limited and electric rates are already low.
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. ...
After listening to all the comments presented and after reading articles and editorials on the internet, I have come to the conclusion that this process is moving way too fast. ...Please deny this request and force Dan's Mountain Windforce LLC to full, open hearings on the merits of its proposal. If their proposal is viable and safe, then it will withstand "... the interests of the people" and their full inspection of it.
And it was with a heavy heart, perhaps, that the Frostburg State University professor went against her gut feeling and asked that the Maryland Public Service Commission deny a request by Dan's Mountain Wind Force LLC for an exemption from obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Granting the request would make the 60-megawatt project able to streamline the permit and construction process. Denial of the request would cause the project to undergo scrutiny by several state agencies.
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.
A public hearing will be conducted Jan. 22 in Frostburg on a company's proposal to construct up to 29 wind energy conversion systems near Vale Summit along the ridge of Dan's Mountain. The hearing is prompted by Dan's Mountain Windforce LLC's application to the Maryland Public Service Commission for an exemption from the requirement to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and for approval to construct up to 29 wind turbines.
What do you plan to do with the commissioners' request for [wind turbine] setback authority? ...Today's land-use challenges cannot be met by silence, ignorance, and obfuscation. Accountability and leadership are needed at the state level. With the passage of SB566, this is no longer a matter of local concern, and you know it. You have a historic responsibility to provide leadership where none now exists.
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.
There is still some doubt over who has the authority to establish certain regulations for industrial wind turbines. ...On the list was the allowance for the commissioners to create regulations to require a certain distance from surrounding properties.
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.
Maryland regulators have, for the first time, granted fast-track status to a wind-power project in the state's mountainous western panhandle. The 5-0 vote Wednesday by the Public Service Commission exempts California-based Clipper Windpower Inc. and its Criterion Power Partners subsidiary from having to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for its 40-turbine project in Garrett County, as power plant developers must do.
The latest draft on wind turbines (as distributed at the Sept. 18 meeting) by the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission staff reflects an impressive continuation of the strife for succinct, but yet sufficient rules.