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Senate Minority Whip Steve Hershey brings Kent Commissioners into wind project process

On the Maryland Senate floor this morning, Senate Minority Whip Steve Hershey (36 -R-Upper Shore) introduced Senate Bill 938 providing the Kent County Commissioners with approval authority for a land-based wind project within the county. Hershey said, “The state’s public utility laws provide local governments with limited input in the Public Service Commission’s approval process for electric generation facilities. As the Apex Wind Project will span hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of Kent County, it makes sense that the Commissioners should have a say.”

Over the course of the last two weeks, Senator Hershey and Delegates of the 36th District have met with Kent County Commissioner Bill Short, representatives of the Public Service Commission, and Apex Wind. “Through these meetings, it became abundantly clear that we needed to protect the interests of, and the rural nature of, Kent County.” The Upper Shore Senator continued, “The best way to do that was to include the Commissioners in the process.”

Explained the Minority Whip, “Maryland created the approval process for electric generation plants long before a commercial wind-project of this size was viable. Historically, traditional generation plants powered by coal or natural gas required much smaller footprints, tens of acres, not thousands. So, to accommodate the broader public needs, it made sense for the state authority to preempt counties in the approval of such projects. Never did crafters of this policy envision that it would be used for the approval of a large-scale wind project such as this.”

“Furthermore, under current law, the whole project will be decided by appointed Public Service Commissioners in Baltimore City, with little say from local elected officials. This is no longer the best way to make policy. Senate Bill 938 will include the Kent County Commissioners in the decision-making process. I believe this will yield the best policy and outcome for Kent County,” concluded Hershey.