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Wind energy proponents vow bill will return despite setback  

Credit:  By KERRY DAVIS, Capital News Service, www.somdnews.com 27 April 2011 ~~

ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Martin O’Malley’s key piece of green legislation this session was effectively killed for the year after being held for study in the Senate Finance Committee just before the end of the session.

The wind energy bill would have contractually obligated utility companies to purchase energy from offshore wind production companies for 20 years. The wind turbines would have been built after the bill’s passage, about 12 miles offshore of Ocean City.

The legislation had been stuck in committees in both the House and Senate, with each group holding working sessions for the last two weeks of the session.

Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the bill’s complexity was too dense to take on a few days before the end of the legislative session April 11.

“I suggested in committee that we have no additional work sessions because we’re in the final days of the session,” Middleton said. “We’ve got all this legislation moving around that we just won’t have time to engage in work sessions.”

The governor’s office, steelworkers and environmentalists had been united in a lobbying effort to pass the bill. A spokesman for the governor said the move isn’t entirely unexpected.

“If you look in the past, things like deregulation, that took three years to pass, greenhouse gas reduction took two years – it’s relatively standard for big, complex issues like this to take more than one session,” said Shaun Adamec, spokesman for O’Malley.

The bill will be studied over the summer.

The governor had added amendments to the bill two weeks ago to try to address cost concerns to both the state and ratepayers. The ratepayer amendment would have capped potential increases to $2 a month for electricity.

Middleton said that while those late amendments helped, he thinks legislators were initially scared off the bill by reports that rate increases could have gone up to $8 a month for electricity consumers.

“For me personally, I had real reservations with the bill myself, just looking at the cost. But the more we got into it, I got a lot more of a comfort level with it,” Middleton said.

Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) sponsored the bill in the Senate and said he is disappointed that neither the House nor Senate committees voted on the bill before it was killed.

“Work was being done in both chambers, but each committee was saying we don’t want to move forward unless there’s a clear majority on the other side,” Pinsky said.

Source:  By KERRY DAVIS, Capital News Service, www.somdnews.com 27 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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