Library filed under Energy Policy from Maryland
Anne Grealy, FirstEnergy’s executive director of state affairs, told the House Economic Matters and Senate Finance committees last week that the cost of buying renewable energy credits to meet the elevated standard would raise the cost of compliance for Potomac Edison by about $208 million. That cost would be paid by its ratepayers over the next 11 years, she said.
The town of Ocean City's objections to two offshore wind farm proposals are getting an airing in Annapolis. A new Maryland General Assembly bill would prohibit any turbines from being erected within 26 miles of the coast, mirroring a resolution that sailed through the Town Council last month.
So why are Maryland politicians and environmental groups pushing increasingly tougher renewables mandates? The answer involves a common dynamic in politics: the “bootleggers and Baptists coalition.” In Southern “dry” counties, alcohol prohibition is favored by both Baptists and bootleggers (for very different reasons). Likewise, renewable energy mandates are favored by both high-minded (but sometimes naïve) environmentalists and not-so-high-minded but very shrewd energy companies and their Wall Street backers. Maryland’s mandate ensures those companies and financiers will have a profitable market for their expensive electricity.
The requirement is expected to make electricity more expensive, but it's not clear by how much. ...The governor derided the new renewable energy requirement as a "sunshine and wind tax," and his campaign paid for a website that enabled Marylanders to send emails asking lawmakers to stop it.
The House on Tuesday special ordered the bill until Jan. 31, for the second time this session, in order to swear in new members filling recent vacancies and gather the 85 votes needed for an override. Hershey said Senate President Mike Miller honored his commitment and “extended the courtesy to us today.”
Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor has consistently supported efforts that promote clean air and clean water. "However, the governor will not do this at the expense of Maryland's ratepayers," Chasse said. ...Chasse said proponents of the bill "need to get their facts straight." She noted Hogan signed legislation in 2015 to expand the Maryland Commission on Climate Change.
“The goal of House Bill 1106 to increase the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio (RPS) to 25% by 2020 is laudable, but increasing taxes to achieve this goal is the wrong approach. In 2014, Maryland ratepayers already were assessed over $104 million dollars for renewable energy credits (RECs),” the last year for which data is available.
Tom Dennison, a spokesman for the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, said companies are making big investments just to reach the current goal of 20 percent by 2022, and additional mandates will cost ratepayers more. Dennison noted that southern Maryland now gets about 10 percent of its electricity from renewables.
Two of the state's most powerful elected officials in Washington, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Rep. Steny Hoyer, back the delay. Southern Maryland lawmakers say more time is needed to complete a study of whether there's a way to mitigate the impacts of spinning turbines on a sensitive radar system used at the naval air station in St. Mary's County. It tests the way aircraft appear to enemy radar.
House Bill 1168 would prevent the state from approving construction of wind turbines that exceed a range of heights within the Atlantic Test Range used by the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. If approved, the legislation would suspend construction of the 70 megawatt Great Bay wind project in Somerset County.
Governor Martin O’Malley’s aggressive green agenda has favored expensive renewable-energy sources, driving up the cost of electricity. The 784,000 Marylanders who are living in poverty, and many more on the brink of it, have been particularly hard hit, even though sometimes the cost is offset by subsidies. Since O’Malley assumed office in January 2007, residents’ electricity rates have increased by 43 percent.
O'Malley's latest proposal will cost electric consumers more than $2 billion. It will raise the price of electric power for all Marylanders. Particularly hard hit will be supermarket chains, which consume huge amounts of electricity, industrial plants and small businesses that can ill afford another government-mandated expense.
The measure sidestepped eight amendments proposed by House Republicans, aiming to restrict the project's cost on the state and taxpayers. Republican Delegate Patrick McDonough of Baltimore and Harford counties noted that the offshore wind bill, if successful, would fail to meet the state's energy needs.
Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to establish an offshore wind farm might be poised to breeze through the General Assembly this year, but it will be at least five years before any turbines are constructed off the coast of Ocean City.
One of the remaining two African American lawmakers who had opposed the governor's plan, Sen. Catherine E. Pugh (D-Baltimore) ,helped negotiate $10 million in aid to minority-owned businesses that made the proposal palatable to the NAACP, said Maryland state conference president Gerald Stansbury.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Tuesday he will consider changes to the Senate Finance Committee, if that is necessary to advance an offshore wind measure to the full Senate for debate in the upcoming legislative session.
The case is one of several nationwide, including similar fraud cases in Texas and Alabama, that have led to calls in Congress for a review of the program. It has also prompted a lawsuit against the EPA by those defrauded by the Maryland company because the federal agency is not recognizing the credits they thought were genuine.
The legislation passed the House but has remained stuck in the Senate Finance Committee since Valentine's Day. WBAL-TV 11 News reporter David Collins said six votes are needed for passage, but the vote count stood at five on Wednesday.
Despite a push from the governor, Republicans and many Democrats have been reluctant to accept the proposal because of the strong likelihood that implementing offshore wind - which is currently a more expensive energy source than coal or natural gas - will cause residents' energy bills to go up.
Among too many political leaders, the argument that carbon-free energy is as much — or more — about “green jobs” as it is about addressing global warming has turned from a politically expedient talking point into an economically dubious article of faith. Confusing the goals of clean energy leads politicians to saddle their states with expensive policies, such as Mr. O’Malley’s green-power protectionism, instead of seeking to secure the best deal for electricity consumers and the environment.