Articles filed under General from Maryland
The governor's proposal would have added $2 - later amended down to $1.50 in the House committee - to each residential customer's monthly bill, and tacked on a 2.5 percent fee to large commercial customers, in order to subsidize a wind farm off the coast of Ocean City.
A majority of the Frostburg Road residents in attendance at the Synergics Wind Energy LLC meeting on Tuesday were opposed to the proposed Fourmile Ridge Wind Energy Project, according to resident Jim McCann.
"My clients believe it would have a catastrophic environmental effect to bring a power line across that island, even if it's bored underneath," he said. "Leave Assateague alone. It's one of the few pristine places left on the East Coast. I just can't imagine putting a big transformer on there."
After three motions, Garrett County commissioners came to an impasse in regard to a decision on how to proceed with the public process of a draft land use management ordinance, a portion of which deals with wind turbine setbacks.
Somerset County Commissioners plan to make revisions to a controversial industrial wind energy ordinance, including increasing the setback from neighboring residential properties. The commissioners also will meet with Steve Smethurst, the attorney for a group of Marion Station opponents, during a work session this week.
Greater setback requirements were called "key" to offsetting potential problems from wind turbines as Somerset County Commissioners heard from residents on both sides of the issue during a work session.
Dan's Mountain Windforce is asking the Maryland Public Service Commission to extend the deadline to begin building the wind farm to Sept. 12, 2013.
Despite broad public support and overwhelming support in one branch of the Legislature, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's Offshore Wind Energy Act once again died in the Senate on the last day of the legislative calendar.
There is nothing in this bill or in any other Maryland law or regulation that will guarantee or limit how much a ratepayer will have to pay extra for offshore wind-generated energy. If this bill is passed and if a developer succeeds in building an offshore wind farm, don't be surprised if the surcharge exceeds $1.50 in 2012 dollars.
During floor debate Thursday, the House adopted an amendment from House Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-Dist. 37B) of Newcomb to exempt ratepayers who farm their land from paying the extra fee on the first 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity they use in a month.
The Maryland House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee has advanced a bill that would give the Garrett County commissioners the authority to enact ordinances relating to setbacks and the decommissioning of wind turbines, according to a news release.
Two consulting firms that work for the BPU said that "net benefits of the project were not demonstrated" and "key underlying assumptions of applicants' cost-benefit analysis were not adequately substantiated." Both firms said Fishermen's Energy did not factor in the possible loss of jobs if customers switch from conventional power plants to hydropower.
The $4.8 million is enough to cover the cost of construction, plus the Delmarva Power study because the project has been scaled down after officials at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County expressed concerns that turbines will interfere with radar systems.
Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-Howard, said he also has concerns about whether the $2-a-month cap is realistic. "My concern is the fact that when you piggyback all the costs together, it does get to be more than $2 a month," Kittleman said. O'Malley said it would probably be another five to six years before ratepayers even see a change in their utility bills.
But some, including a number of Republicans, are questioning both the $2-a-month cost figure and the forecast of jobs for Marylanders. In fact, searching through a number of studies shows how difficult it is to come up with reliable numbers on wind energy costs.
Like most Marylanders, I want electric power that is cheap and clean. However, I oppose offshore wind — because it is not cheap, and wind systems are not clean.
O'Malley, who failed to get a wind-power bill through the General Assembly last year, is expected to announce details of new legislation Monday. But this time around, O'Malley may have to take into account labor's demand to have its role guaranteed in the legislation. If not resolved, the issue could split the union-environmentalist coalition that backed the bill last year.
New Jersey-based NRG Energy, however, said in a statement Monday that the outlook for offshore wind has changed dramatically over the last two years. The company cited two decisions by Congress that could significantly affect financing for any offshore wind project. Not one has yet been built in the United States.
The group is a consortium of citizen/environment organizations from five states, and one of its goals is to inform the public about the science and the truth of wind farms. Wind energy is too costly for the taxpayer; too inefficient to keep its promises to generate electricity at the level claimed; and too destructive in its impact on the people and the environment in the vicinity of the turbine installations, said Spiggle.
The Senate Finance Committee will discuss the pros and cons of wind technology, which the governor has touted as a job-creating, environment-friendly alternative to fossil fuels while acknowledging that it likely will increase energy costs for consumers.