SALISBURY – Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot urged Gov. Martin O’Malley Wednesday to veto a bill that would be a roadblock to major wind-farm projects not far from Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
Much is riding on the governor’s decision for Somerset County, where the Great Bay Wind project faces potential limbo. At stake: potentially hundreds of jobs and the future of wind power on the Eastern Shore.
“It is with profound concern over the devastating effect that this new law would have on the economy of one of our most impoverished rural jurisdictions, and with a deepening sense of frustration that the State of Maryland would miss this opportunity to take a major step toward the attainment of its own renewable energy goals, that I respectfully ask you to veto House Bill 1168,” Franchot wrote to the governor.
He cited estimates of more than 500 construction jobs, $44 million in tax revenues and $200 million in new investment in Somerset County, where 2013 unemployment averaged 10.2 percent and more than 1-in-5 residents live in poverty.
“It cannot be overstated what a project of this magnitude would mean for a jurisdiction that has taken far too many economic hits in recent years,” the comptroller wrote.
The bill has pitted Eastern Shore legislators who support the wind project against southern Maryland legislators concerned about operations at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
If signed by the governor, the bill would delay the Public Service commission from giving approval for the Great Bay Wind farm to move forward until after June 2015.
The developers of the 25-turbine Somerset wind farm, Pioneer Green Energy, have repeatedly said after several years and $4 million in investment, if the bill passes, it will kill the project. A veto would also put O’Malley on the opposite side from Maryland U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, who have joined with Congressman Steny Hoyer in supporting the bill.
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