ANNAPOLIS – The House Speaker, legislators and energy advocates said Tuesday there are no losers in proposed legislation to spark growth of clean, renewable energy sources in Maryland.
The proponents showcased the initiative’s support and benefits at a news conference held hours before the House Economic Matters Committee heard testimony for the energy proposal.
“This brings together a diverse group of individuals and constituencies to do what we believe is in the best long-term interest of Maryland’s energy supplies,” said House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel. “It brings a clean source of energy. It’s renewable, reusable (and) it also brings jobs to an area of the state that needs it.”
The renewable energy standards bill sponsored by Busch and 30 cosponsors would increase the requirement that electric companies generate some power from “green” sources from 1 percent to 7.5 percent by 2014. It also would offer credits to utilities for renewable energy production.
The bill would encourage energy generation from chicken droppings, an abundant resource in the Eastern Shore, with an aim to preserving the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem and helping farmers meet nutrient management regulations.
It would also stimulate growth of wind-generated, reusable power in Western Maryland. Wind turbines and their plants could create jobs, pay landowners for using land to set up the technology and help control utility costs.
Some Maryland manufacturers have concerns about the cost of energy under the proposal, but supporters said alternative generation is getting cheaper.
Clean energy advocates, environmental and public interest groups who helped shape the bill acknowledged the woes of the Maryland manufacturing industry — many companies are leaving the state or going bankrupt. But they said the measure was designed to lower any potential energy price impact on manufacturers.
David McAnally, chief executive officer of US Windforce, a builder of wind turbine facilities in Western Maryland, said there are few drawbacks to such a well-supported energy proposal.
Proponents were optimistic of the bill’s passage with the speaker’s backing.
“This is an exciting time to have the leadership behind passing a renewable energy bill,” said Delegate Carol Petzold, D-Montgomery. “As our energy needs increase and our ability to import oil becomes less sure, developing renewable resources becomes more critical to us. These are all good reasons for Maryland to step up and be a leader in the nation.”
Fourteen other states have passed similar legislation, said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has concerns about the bill said Maryland Energy Administration officials.
The MEA’s report to the House Economic Matters Committee addressed issues of overlap between the proposed energy bill and current energy and utility practices. It also said the timing of the bill was a concern: the upcoming removal of electric rate caps and the higher costs of renewable power sources could both hit Marylanders in the pocketbook.
The MEA said the administration would support the bill if it were changed to address its concerns.
Former House Speaker Casper Taylor, D-Allegany, said there were many benefits to the bill.
“When you try to create new public policy you wind up with winners and losers,” he said. “There are no losers here — the environment wins, economic development wins . . . the state treasury wins.”