Articles 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.
At a hearing on the bill last week, Kevin Hughes, chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission, suggested that one of the wind farm projects could come before the panel again because developer U.S. Wind has said it plans to use larger wind turbines than it initially proposed. Del. Christopher Adams, an Eastern Shore Republican who sponsored the bill that was voted down, said he thinks that possible new review “suggests that there will be further deliberation” on Maryland wind farm proposals.
The battle over the proposed distance of offshore wind energy turbines from the Ocean City shoreline moved to the General Assembly this week with a hearing before a Senate committee that would require the distance to be at least 26 nautical miles.
“The two most important factors of Ocean City property values are location and view," Michael James, an Ocean City hotel executive, told the Finance Committee. “Seven-hundred-foot turbines will undoubtedly hurt property values.” Town officials say they support offshore wind energy but not wind turbines visible from condo and hotel balconies.
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.
“Ocean City supports clean, unseen energy,” the mayor’s letter reads. “What that means is that we would like the turbines to be constructed at least 26 miles offshore, rather than the 12.9 to 17 miles as one developer is proposing. Our leadership is interested in both promoting green energy and providing job opportunities, but is also our duty as the Mayor and Council to preserve all that we have at stake, including the natural beauty of the beaches and waters in and adjacent to Ocean City.
“This is a big project that will be there for many, many years, and we only get one chance to make it right,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “Let’s not go build something we’re all going to regret.” The town's rejection is a political blow to America's first large-scale offshore wind development. But it is largely a symbolic one; the turbines are being planned in federal waters.
OCEAN CITY — Reiterating a position they have fostered for years, the Mayor and Council this week unanimously passed a resolution opposing the development of offshore wind energy turbines within view of the resort’s coastline.
The view of waters off Ocean City remains clear, while the possibility of electricity-generating wind turbines jutting up from the horizon is somewhat less so, as local government continued its effort either to kill the idea or push the turbines farther offshore and out of sight.
The researchers found that all three species were more likely to enter areas the government has established for offshore wind development during migration than during the winter. The gannets, in particular, trafficked the wind development areas most extensively while heading to or from breeding grounds in eastern Canada or wintering spots as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.
“Our committee has become concerned that the planned wind farm development off the coast of Ocean City, as currently conceived, could have a serious, negative impact on Ocean Pines Association property owners, as well as a majority of county residents and businesses,” Wolf said. “Our apprehension is based on certain findings of a study by North Carolina State University regarding the impact of wind farms on coastal tourism.”
In November 2011, then Maryland Governor O'Malley attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 50kw wind turbine. By February, 2017 the turbine’s generator suffered a catastrophic failure. The repair cost was deemed too expensive to undertake.
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.
At least one of two offshore wind projects approved by Maryland utility regulators in May could be in jeopardy after an amendment sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) that seeks to push the turbines farther from the coast was approved by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee in the past week.
The Harris amendment bars federal funding from being spent on government reviews of wind projects built within 24 miles of Maryland's shoreline. Any construction that takes place farther out to sea would be unaffected.
When the House Appropriations Committee approved the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018 on Tuesday, it also OK’d an amendment opposing the development of offshore wind in Maryland.
Harris cited Ocean City’s concerns about impacts on views from the shoreline as the catalyst for the amendment. It’s important to note while Ocean City officials are not opposed to the offshore wind farm projects conceptually, they continue to express concern about the potential impact on the views from the shore and have pushed the companies to move the turbines back at least 26 miles.
The amendment restricts the use of federal funds to conduct a site assessment or construction and operation plans for wind turbines less than 24 nautical miles from Maryland’s shoreline – the distance at which the turbines would not be visible from the beach.
A wind energy developer is seeking judicial review of the Maryland Public Service Commission’s decision denying its request to construct a 17-turbine wind farm atop Dan’s Mountain.
"We want them to be moved back to the horizon, so we don't see the towers. I really believe people come to Ocean City because they want to look out into the ocean, the undisturbed natural state of the ocean, and this will dramatically change that." -- Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan