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Wind energy standards bill gaining support

Delegate Wendell Beitzel has submitted a bill that would require the development of general performance standards for commercial wind turbines across the state. Last year's solo effort failed to get out of the House Economic Matters Committee. This year, the bill already has 22 co-sponsors, including the influential Montgomery County Democrat.

CUMBERLAND - Delegate Wendell Beitzel has submitted a bill that would require the development of general performance standards for commercial wind turbines across the state.

Last year's solo effort failed to get out of the House Economic Matters Committee. This year, the bill already has 22 co-sponsors, including the influential Montgomery County Democrat Brian Feldman, a member of the Economic Matters Committee, as well as Democrat Barbara Frush, of Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties.

Delegates KevinKelly and LeRoy Myers also have signed on as co-sponsors.

The bill, introduced Friday, does not attempt to indicate what those performance standards might be. Instead, Beitzel said the bill would require the state Public Service Commission and the Department of Natural Resources to jointly develop standards to regulate tower height, number and size of blades, rotor diameter, noise, lighting on and near turbines, and setbacks.

"I really sensed that Ihad quite a bit of support last year,"Beitzel said. "What it boils down to ... Ifelt the administration didn't want anything standing in the way of windmill development."

Beitzel said Gov. Martin O'Malley "viewed these bills as maybe something... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CUMBERLAND - Delegate Wendell Beitzel has submitted a bill that would require the development of general performance standards for commercial wind turbines across the state.

Last year's solo effort failed to get out of the House Economic Matters Committee. This year, the bill already has 22 co-sponsors, including the influential Montgomery County Democrat Brian Feldman, a member of the Economic Matters Committee, as well as Democrat Barbara Frush, of Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties.

Delegates Kevin Kelly and LeRoy Myers also have signed on as co-sponsors.

The bill, introduced Friday, does not attempt to indicate what those performance standards might be. Instead, Beitzel said the bill would require the state Public Service Commission and the Department of Natural Resources to jointly develop standards to regulate tower height, number and size of blades, rotor diameter, noise, lighting on and near turbines, and setbacks.

"I really sensed that I had quite a bit of support last year," Beitzel said. "What it boils down to ... I felt the administration didn't want anything standing in the way of windmill development."

Beitzel said Gov. Martin O'Malley "viewed these bills as maybe something that would put conditions ... that would restrict the development of windmills."

This time, however, there are "quite a few colleagues on both sides of the aisle that have signed on to the bill that I think will help quite a bit."

And the cause of the turnaround?

"I think there's becoming more of an awareness from the environmental community that you need an alternative energy source but in some cases, to develop this alternative energy may add to the cost of electricity (and) create environmental problems that they didn't envision," Beitzel said.

Wind energy industry spokesman Frank Maisano said he is "skeptical" of any so-called good intentions Beitzel might have. Maisano said Beitzel has been a lead advocate against any wind projects in the state.

He said it "doesn't make sense" to have detailed performance standards, because changes in technology are "advancing so rapidly."

A commercial wind project in Fayette County, Pa., was delayed for more than two years when new technology called for turbines to sit 12 feet higher than existing local ordinances.

Maisano said that any general performance standards on wind projects could jeopardize wind energy companies from receiving financing for such projects when "some sort of arbitrary standards" are put in place.

Support from metro-area lawmakers didn't surprise Maisano, who said legislators from those urban areas aren't "going to have any wind turbine projects" in their areas anyway.

"This is intended to prevent wind projects from being built in Western Maryland," Maisano said.

Maisano said Beitzel has never been interested in talking with industry representatives but that they are willing to do so.

"We're always willing to be a participant in working on things that will improve the process of siting wind turbines," Maisano said. "We have an open mind. So far, we've been treated with nothing but disappointment and delay."


Source: http://www.times-news.com/l...

FEB 8 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/24545-wind-energy-standards-bill-gaining-support
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