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After last year’s offshore wind bill failed to pass, Gov. Martin O’Malley went back to the drawing board, lifted a few moves from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and returned to the General Assembly today with a modified bill.
The new plan (like the old one) will likely raise residential electricity bills $1.50 to $2.00 per month. The portion of their power that wholesalers would have to purchase from wind farms beginning in 2017? 2.5 percent. Does that seem like small potatoes to anybody else?
And not to get too conservative on you, but how are we going to make a large-scale move to “green” energy if it requires a state mandate and a measurably larger electricity bill just to move wind to 2.5 percent? Just sayin’.
Oh, by the way, after he presents his revamped wind plan, he is going to introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
Things have gone from bad to worse for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s offshore wind farm initiative.
Last year, O’Malley introduced a plan to subsidize the devlopment of an offshore wind farm that would have signed up Marylanders to pay more on their utility bills for the next twenty years in exchange for the governor’s projection of 2,000 new jobs and securing a position for Maryland in the nascent alternative energies market.
The Democrat-controlled legislature rejected the measure during their 2011 session, which closed last spring. Since then, California saw a federally backed solar company tank in a big way, and Congress has cut off its own green energy subsidies. If anything, it will only be harder now to approve an expensive subsidy for an uncertain market.
Nevertheless, O’Malley is trying again with a restructured plan. The cost to consumers would be nearly the same, but instead of appearing as a separate cost in their monthly utility bills (as it would have under the original plan), it would be hidden.
It’s hard to believe that this would be enough to make the multi-billion dollar measure politically palatable, but who knows?
Sustainable Maryland Certified is the name of a new statewide community greening effort launched by the University of Maryland. It’s a voluntary program that awards points to participating municipalities as they adopt environmentally friendly practices. At 150 points a municipality is awarded certification by the program and is eligible to receive grant money. It’s based on Sustainable Jersey, a similar program that has already had success in the Garden State.
Greening actions will be tailored to each community, and in addition to certification and extra funds, the program promises participating cities and towns savings to their utility bills and stimulation to their local economy through the implementation of Sustainable Maryland’s recommended actions.
Sustainable Maryland’s website conscientiously disclaims, “Certification does not indicate that a municipality is ‘sustainable.’ Rather it indicates that the municipality has taken the first significant step on the journey toward sustainability.” Unfortunately, the website doesn’t define “sustainable.” Neither does it convey how far we are from truly responsible environmental stewardship in Maryland.
Throughout the program’s materials “green” is equated with simply better management of assets and resources. This could be a good start, but ultimately we’ll need to do better than better. A true understanding of sustainability would be useful here, one that’s not relative to our present rate of pollution and waste of resources. We could do plenty “better” and still be on a negative trend environmentally. The fact is that achieving sustainability is a much more enormous undertaking than we typically acknowledge, requiring no less than turning the tide on at least centuries of irresponsible practices.
For more information on Sustainable Maryland Certified and to find out how your locale can participate, visit www.sustainablemaryland.com.