Articles filed under General from Maryland
U.S. Wind Force, a Pennsylvania-based company, has made a request of the state of Maryland to lease some 400 acres of state forestland to place 100 turbines atop Backbone and Meadow mountains. These would, of course, be in addition to dozens of other turbines tentatively scheduled to be erected on private property on Backbone. ...because this proposal calls for the use of "protected," state-owned (that is, technically, citizen-owned) lands for these projects, we have a whole new ballgame, and every single resident of Garrett County - even those who generally support wind-produced energy - should vehemently oppose it. If Governor O'Malley and the other two members of the Public Service Commission approve this (and the governor is really the only individual who has the power to stop it), it will be an absolute travesty. It would amount to our own governor selling us out here in Garrett County by opening this particular door that will lead to the degradation of our most pristine land; a door that would never again be closed.
During a week filled with concerns about protecting the environment comes the alarming news that state officials are considering exploiting one resource to develop another. As reported by The Sun's Tom Pelton, the O'Malley administration is weighing a request from Pennsylvania developers to lease and clear-cut 400 mountaintop acres in two state forests in Western Maryland so they can erect 100 wind turbines, 40 stories tall, to supply clean power to just 55,000 homes. This counterproductive proposal should be rejected out of hand. Publicly owned land should be not be leased to private developers for any purpose, much less one that by definition will deny access to and enjoyment of that land to the public. ...Wind power is very attractive because it offers a renewable energy source that does not emit the pollutants that contribute to global warming and poison the Chesapeake Bay. But windmills don't come without their own costs to the environment and to the quality of life of those who live nearby. Whether densely populated Maryland is an appropriate place for wind farms is still an open question. The only windmill project to win state approval so far got it through a General Assembly mandate to overrule environmental conditions applied by the Public Service Commission.
A Pennsylvania company is asking the O'Malley administration for leases in two Western Maryland state forests so it can clear up to 400 mountaintop acres to build about 100 wind turbines. The U.S. Wind Force structures would be about 40 stories tall and visible from some of the region's most popular tourist areas, including Deep Creek Lake and the Savage River Reservoir. ...Dan Boone, a former state wildlife biologist who has been fighting wind farms in Western Maryland, said the Savage River and Potomac state forests contain rare old-growth trees and threatened species. "You are talking about taking one of the most spectacular scenic overlooks in Maryland and industrializing it," Boone said of a proposed site on Meadow Mountain in the Savage River forest. "It would be a real tragedy to take state lands and convert them into an industrial theme park for U.S. Wind Force."
A Baltimore judge has affirmed a state Public Service Commission ruling favoring a proposed wind power project in Garrett County. ...Project opponent D. Daniel Boone had filed for judicial review of the decision. He claimed the change violated a settlement agreement the PSC accepted when it approved the project in 2003.
Bluewater Wind, the company that has plans to build a wind farm off Rehoboth Beach, says it also wants to build one off Ocean City, Md. Jim Lanard, spokesman for Bluewater Wind, said the company has recently been floating the idea to state officials and citizens. He said Maryland is expected to need an additional 1,890 megawatts of electricity by 2015, and a wind farm would help provide that electricity without the pollutants of a fossil fuel plant.
A company seeking to build an offshore wind farm off the Delaware coast has begun discussions about building the wind turbines in Maryland waters, too, according to state and company officials. Bluewater Wind, a New Jersey energy company, wants to put 150 turbines 11 1/2 miles off the coast of the resort town of Ocean City. ...Angel Conner, manager of the Shoreham Hotel on Ocean's City's boardwalk, said she doubted people would stop coming to Ocean City because of wind turbines. "I don't think it would affect us, as long as they could still see the water," Conner said.
Gov. Martin O'Malley inspected some proposed wind-power sites in the western Maryland mountains Friday and said he is seeking a balance between the need for clean, renewable energy and the potential for environmental damage from scores of giant windmills. ...But O'Malley said he hasn't yet decided whether he wants giant turbines lining Maryland's highest ridges at the chosen sites.
When his plan for clean energy ran smack into a rare habitat on a rocky Appalachian ridge, Annapolis businessman Wayne L. Rogers turned to people he knew could help: his contacts in the Maryland General Assembly. State law and the environmental protections it afforded all but scuttled his proposal last year for 24 windmills atop Backbone Mountain at the state's western edge. So Rogers waged a successful campaign to have the law changed -- and environmental review gutted -- for wind-energy projects such as his.
Legislators in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic passed a number of bills applying to the electric power industry, with several states committing to emissions reductions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other states making broad organizational changes to their regulatory processes.
The wind power law allows developers to build wind farms without a certificate of public convenience from the Maryland Public Service Commission. While critics argued it will cut out public input on wind projects, the law's supporters said the law only removes extra environmental reviews that were stifling wind power development in Maryland. Frank Maisano, a spokesman for a coalition of Mid-Atlantic wind-power developers, said the law was needed to help the state meet goals for Maryland-produced renewable power. But critics say that under the new law, strides toward renewable power could come at the expense of wildlife.
Frederick County's federal elected representatives are keeping an open mind about a proposed power line that would end in Kemptown. U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-6) touted the benefits of the proposed twin-500 volt power line that will run through parts of the county in a statement Friday. "Residents and businesses in the Sixth District expect to have electricity for heat, light and air conditioning when they need it," he said. "In addition to these benefits, an upgraded transmission system could accommodate more renewable energy generation, such as wind or solar power." The state's two senators, however, were more reserved when discussing the line.
Opponents of a wind turbine facility in Garrett County went zero-for-two Thursday when the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled a second time that their challenge had not been properly executed. In both cases, local business and land-owners challenged the way the Public Service Commission approved Clipper Windpower Inc.'s construction of a 41-acre project along Backbone Mountain. In the latest appeal, dubbed "Clipper II," the state's highest court upheld a lower court's dismissal of the opponents' request for a declaratory judgment against the project. The Garrett County Circuit Court found that it would be "inappropriate" to consider a declaratory judgment while another case involving the same parties and issues, called Clipper I, was pending before the Court of Special Appeals. Thus, the circuit court argued, the petitioners did not exhaust all other remedies provided them under state law.
WASHINGTON - The House rejected a resolution Wednesday that would block government plans to spur construction of major new power lines in many states regardless of local opposition. The issue has been contentious in parts of the East Coast and in the Southwest, where two high priority transmission corridors for power lines were proposed. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., warned colleagues that unwanted power lines could come to their district.
The state Court of Appeals cleared a California energy company yesterday to build what would be Maryland's first windmill farm, a 42-turbine facility along Backbone Mountain in Garrett County. The wind farm was approved by the Public Service Commission in 2003, though it was not built because the developer, Clipper Windpower Inc., initially was unable to induce utility companies to buy power from the facility. The project now has utility customers and is expected to proceed.
Maryland's highest court on Friday cleared the way for a wind-power project in Garrett County that was challenged by a neighbor. The court unanimously ruled that the challenge by Eric Tribbey to the 67-turbine project was not valid.
Clipper Windpower Inc.'s quest to put a wind turbine project in Western Maryland was deflated again - this time by the Court of Special Appeals, which revived a claim that the company reneged on its earlier settlement agreement. Objector D. Daniel Boone claims that California-based Clipper reconfigured the project it agreed to in 2003, in an agreement that allowed the project to move forward. "They unilaterally changed the plans," said Boone, a former employee of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He is challenging the Public Service Commission's 2005 approval of Clipper's request to build larger, but fewer, turbines at the Criterion project in Garrett County.
A bill to reduce environmental reviews required of wind turbine proposals in Maryland has breezed through the General Assembly, a move lauded by industry leaders pushing for renewable forms of energy in the state. The House of Delegates and Senate passed identical versions of the bill by overwhelming margins Friday. Gov. Martin O'Malley is reviewing the proposed legislation and is inclined to sign it into law, his spokesman, Rick Abbruzzese, said yesterday.
Lawmakers agreed Friday on a measure that will make it easier to build large wind power projects in Maryland, after the Senate voted 40-6 to agree to a similar bill passed in the House with amendments. The measure would allow developers to build wind farms that generate electricity for the wholesale market by eliminating environmental reviews looking at the potential impact on wildlife, endangered species and forest fragmentation that currently are part of the Public Service Commission's approval process.
Long-stalled efforts to develop wind-powered turbine fields in Western Maryland have shifted this year to the state capital, where the firepower behind the proposed legislation is potent. The Senate earlier this week passed a bill that would streamline the public approval process for wind-generating stations, which proponents argue will put Maryland on par with other states that have already invested millions of dollars in renewable energy. The key figure asking the state to relax its regulations is Wayne Rogers, a well-connected entrepreneur who has been a generous donor to Democratic campaigns across the state and the country, according to campaign finance figures. Rogers, a former state Democratic Party chairman, led Gov. Martin O'Malley's transition team on energy. His Annapolis firm, Synergics Energy Services LLC, wants to build a wind farm on Maryland's tallest mountain ridge in Garrett County.
States with renewable portfolio standards have generated growth in the renewable energy sector, but many of the Appalachian states don't have one. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York all have some fairly progressive goals, but West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee don't have a state RPS and wind projects often ignite battles.