The Dernogalizer

November 11, 2010

MD Offshore Wind now at Request for Interest Stage

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:54 am
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See the exciting press release below, and check out the MD Department of Natural Resources website about the entire stakeholder process to this point.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (November 8, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland Energy Administration today joined the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in announcing a significant step forward in bringing offshore wind power generation to Maryland’s coast. The federal government, which controls the Outer Continental Shelf, has accepted the planning recommendations of the Maryland Offshore Wind Task Force and today issued both a Request for Interest (RFI) and a map of an offshore wind leasing area in federal waters adjacent to Maryland’s Atlantic Coast.  Today’s announcement makes Maryland only the second state in the nation to reach this point in the process.

“Today’s announcement marks another step forward for Maryland’s new economy,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “By harnessing the outstanding wind resources off of Maryland’s coast, we can create thousands of green collar jobs, reduce harmful air pollution, and bring much needed, additional clean energy to Maryland.” (more…)

November 1, 2010

My Op-Ed: Wind energy: A matter of priorities

Filed under: Dernoga,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:21 am
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I have a column out today in the Diamondback about what needs to be done for Maryland to get offshore wind turbines off its coast.  Enjoy!

Wind energy: A matter of priorities

By Matt Dernoga

There’s a growing buzz in the state over the enormous potential for offshore wind development off our coast. In early October, Gov. Martin O’Malley  held a rally with the United Steelworkers to tout the 4,000 manufacturing jobs and 800 permanent jobs that could be created from a 1,000 megawatt wind farm off our coasts. Google recently joined a partnership to build a $5 billion network of transmission lines along the East Coast. In 10 years, this system will allow mid-Atlantic states to share wind energy when one area of the coast is windy and the other isn’t.

Environmental groups have held town hall meetings around the state with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Energy Administration to inform citizens about offshore wind. At one I attended, they were been joined by NRG Bluewater Wind, a wind energy developer poised to build a 200 megawatt wind farm off the coast of Delaware. Many questions and concerns about offshore wind were answered.

How much wind potential exists off our coast? Enough to meet 67 percent of the state’s electricity needs. What’s the cost? Although offshore wind is a little more expensive than prices in the current state market, you’re locked in to paying for it at the same rate for 25 years because the wind isn’t getting more expensive. Given the volatility of our electricity prices in recent years, this should be a welcome development and will most likely save money in the end. What about birds, fish and the view? The state government has partnered with conservation groups such as the Nature Conservancy and fishermen to map out the ocean and rule out areas that are sensitive to migratory birds and watermen. The areas that are being considered happen to be more than 10 miles off the coast.

The state is sorely lacking one thing: a firm commitment from government to be not just a partner with the offshore wind developers but also a customer. A reason Delaware is ahead of Maryland on offshore wind is because it approved a 200 megawatt Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Delmarva Power and NRG Bluewater Wind. Wind energy companies need a guaranteed buyer in line before they are willing to risk a major upfront investment into energy infrastructure. Otherwise it’s like buying a house and taking on a mortgage when you don’t have a job.

O’Malley knows this. In July, he co-authored a letter with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell to President Barack Obama asking for the federal government to enter into a PPA for 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind. The letter said this state has already committed to 55 megawatts, alongside Delaware’s 200. What O’Malley glossed over is that the PPA in this state is actually with this university and NRG Bluewater Wind, and it’s for the Delaware project! What a small world in a big ocean.

There are a lot of state government buildings in Annapolis. If we are asking the federal government to commit its buildings to a PPA, why can’t we do it here? We need a significant enough draw for a developer such as NRG Bluewater Wind, which is interested in building a 600 megawatt wind farm off the state’s coast. If the state wants to be on the forefront of the emerging clean energy economy, a PPA for offshore wind needs to be a priority for the newly elected governor and legislature in 2011.

Matt Dernoga is a graduate student in public policy. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com


October 27, 2010

My Offshore Wind Question for Governor O’Malley, and Candidate Ehrlich

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 8:28 pm
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I’m very pleased that the College Park Patch’s interview with Governor O’Malley started off by asking my question “Do you support offshore wind, and if so what will you do to make it a reality over these next four years”. Not only did Governor O’Malley answer the question in support of offshore wind and list steps he has taken, but he proceeded to discuss clean energy and energy efficiency policy for a full six minutes!  This is pretty good for an election where the the environment and clean energy policy has scarcely come up in debates or the media.  For more background on why O’Malley should be re-elected Governor, see my op-ed in the Diamondback from a few weeks ago.  On an even more positive note, the question after mine was about the Purple Line Light Rail.

Interestingly, my offshore wind question also was asked by the Patch to Ehrlich, although in a slightly different format.  He somehow starts at offshore wind and ends at drilling for oil in ANWAR.  See the video at the 2:25 mark…


October 20, 2010

Environment Maryland endorses Gov. O’Malley

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:20 am
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An excellent articulation by Brad Heavner of Environment Maryland on why it’s important that voters choose Martin O’Malley over Bob Ehrlich if they want to see progress on environmental issues such as the Chesapeake Bay.

October 15, 2010

First MD Wind Farm to Begin Operating

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:20 am
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Photo from

Who says we can’t do onshore wind in Maryland?   Check out this article by the Cumberland Times-News.  Notable excerpts below

“Maryland’s first-ever commercial wind farm is set to begin partial operations in less than one week, according to developer Constellation Energy.  In recent months a total of 28 bright white wind turbines, stretching 415 feet into the air from base to vertical blade tip, sprung up along eight miles of Backbone Mountain in Garrett County.”

“At its peak in mid-summer the project employed about 200 individuals, Wagner said. But that number has declined, and will continue to drop off as the project nears commissioning.
When it becomes operational, the facility will have nine full-time employees permanently assigned to the site, including Shilobod.  They will work out of a headquarters building now being constructed beside the electrical substation along Eagle Rock Road.”

“Wagner acknowledged that Constellation had anticipated a high level of statewide interest in and scrutiny of the project, because it was effectively blazing a new trail in Maryland energy production.

“From the very beginning we were aware that we were going to be looked at, as the first facility of its kind in the state,” he said.”

September 30, 2010

Offshore Wind and Maryland

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 5:24 pm
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I’m real excited about the possibility of and offshore wind project happening in Maryland, now that Cape Wind is a go in Massachusetts.  A number of state environmental groups organzied a town hall in Ocean City last week about the offshore wind proposal on the table, and the steps the Maryland government is taking to moving the ball forward.  Below is a cross-post from CCAN’s Tom about the event and the potential for offshore wind. (more…)

September 22, 2010

Action Alert: Prince George’s County Clean Water Bill

In March 2010 Maryland witnessed cowardice in Annapolis as its General Assembly voted to roll back storm water regulations passed in 2007 at the request of developers.  Montgomery County passed legislation enacting the stronger standards which the state shelved.  Now Prince George’s County is attempting to follow suit.  See the Action Alert below for information about this legislation.

Attention Anacostia Advocates-

This Thursday at 10am the Prince George’s County Council’s Transportation, Housing, and Environment (THE) committee will take up CB-80, the clean water bill. Earlier this summer, advocates achieved a major victory for clean water in the Anacostia with the unanimous passage of Montgomery County’s new stormwater regulation. It is now Prince George’s County’s turn to step up to the plate and do its part. (more…)

September 15, 2010

End of Maryland Primary Day, More Blogging!

Filed under: MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:00 pm
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Well, primary day ended yesterday in Maryland, and a lot of exciting and interesting races came to a finish.  I myself was managing the Prince Georges County Council District 1 campaign of Mary Lehman, and she was victorious yesterday night, taking 41% of the vote in a 5-way race.  All around there were some races that ended the way I wanted them to and others that disappointed.  I was surprised to see very low turnout by the Democrats, poll workers at most locations in District 1 told me that things were very slow for most of the day.  A couple seasoned  politicians I talked to at polling locations exclaimed they hadn’t seen such low turnout at polls in quite awhile.  This concerns me as it doesn’t bode well for the Democrats in November for the Governor’s race in Maryland.  I hope turnout has been better in other areas of the country, but based off what I’ve read it has not.

The other thing I’ll address is that since I’ve been so consumed by the elections, I have blogged less consistently and done more re-posts than usual as opposed to original posts.  Although I’ll be catching my breath this week from the campaigning, I expect to pick up the pace of my writing next week and write about some important environmental issues facing us in the elections nationwide as well as Maryland with the November elections right around the corner.

Stay tuned

August 26, 2010

Tidwell: It’s Not Pepco’s Fault the Weather is Changing

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:22 pm
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I want to cross-post parts of an excellent article by CCAN’s Mike Tidwell.  There have been many outages in the Washington DC region, and lawmakers have started saber-rattling at PEPCO, one of the local utilities for their inability to keep the lights on.  As Tidwell rightly points out, the outages are predominantly coming from extreme weather that is a sign of increased precipitation from a warming planet.

“A hotter planet also means more evaporation of ocean water. And a hotter atmosphere can hold more of that water as vapor in the air. It’s basic physics. And what goes up must come down. It’s not our imagination that rainstorm intensity is rising in our region. In a study released last March, scientists examined precipitation patterns from Maine to New Jersey over the past 60 years. The study revealed an amazing uptick in multi-inch rain events across the region, with strong evidence pointing to rising temperatures as a key culprit.

Trends are what are important here, and Pepco itself has identified an unsettling pattern this summer. Unusually high winds, it says, have repeatedly assaulted trees whose roots are themselves anchored in unusually loose and soft soil thanks to the “anomalously” high rainfall this summer. So branches and trunks are coming down at very high rates. Hmmmm.

But what about the snowfall last winter? The power went out twice due to extreme white stuff. Global warming? How? Well, first, we didn’t set records for cold temperatures last winter. Not even close. What we did do was shatter records for precipitation in the form of snow. Again, an overall warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and significant snowfall events are on the upswing in the United States even as temperatures rise significantly. It’s all the extra water in the air. Since 1970, global warming has added at least four percent more moisture to the atmosphere, according to studies.”

“It’s finally time to come out of the dark on severe weather. If Pepco is to blame for anything, it is this: the company invests woefully insufficient resources into solar and wind power. The same applies to all the region’s utilities. .

Better service means more than rapid repair crews. It means better energy flowing through the wires, rain or shine.”

Prospects dim for third Calvert Cliffs nuclear unit

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 9:26 pm
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As I said in my column on the economics of nuclear power, it’s just too expensive to build.  The Calvert Cliffs plant in Maryland is in doubt, and that’s with the expectation there will be a multi-billion dollar loan guarantee for the project.

As I wrote last fall…

A common perception of nuclear power is that it’s an affordable, carbon-free energy source that could meet a lot of America’s demand for electricity, if only those darn environmentalists would get out of the way. Unfortunately for nuclear power advocates and Maryland ratepayers, this statement crumbles upon contact with reality.”

Reality bites hard

Constellation Energy and the French EDF Group say they’re committed to building an enormous nuclear-power plant next to the one Constellation already operates at Calvert Cliffs on the Chesapeake Bay. But the $9 billion project looks less and less certain with each month that goes by.

It’s not just the delayed Department of Energy review of the government-backed financing. (Without that financing, the unit is dead. Constellation complained last week about the procrastination.)

It’s not just the usual political catfight for government resources, although with Calvert Cliffs in his district, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is a formidable ally.

It’s that the very economics of nuclear power look vastly different than they did two years ago. Or two weeks ago, for that matter. It’s far from sure that the Calvert Cliffs expansion, proposed by the Constellation-EDF joint venture known as UniStar Nuclear, will proceed even if it gets government money.”

Read the rest of the article

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