Senate Committee Debates Renewable Energy Bills

A slew of bills clearing the way for investments in renewable energy received mixed reviews in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.
A bill requested by Gov. Martin O'Malley's Administration, which would amend Maryland law to allow the installation of underground energy lines in beach erosion control districts upon approval, received mixed reviews from the committee. Legislators remain open to alternative energy suggestions with the goal of having 20 percent of the state's energy produced by renewable sources by 2022, but not at the cost of inconveniencing their constituents.
Sen. George W. Della Jr., D-Baltimore, expressed concern that the construction of energy lines connecting offshore energy generators to Maryland's energy grids could affect Maryland residents' activities on the shore and hurt the environment.
In addition to the submerged energy lines bill, which would benefit possible offshore wind energy project proposals, a bill that provides a framework for the state's energy policy goals was introduced.
"It would provide a statement of our state's energy goals," the bill's sponsor, Sen. Michael G. "Mike" Lenett, D-Montgomery, said. "It's not a question anymore whether we'll transition from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy, it's just a matter of when."
The goal of the bill is to establish a climate for investment in renewable energy. The bill's proponents were quick to emphasize the proposed act isn't a mandate, but simply a framework all of the state's renewable energy goals could fall under.
The overarching issue for legislators seems to be how progress towards the state's Renewable Standards Program, which aims to lessen the state's reliance on foreign oil, can be made without negatively affecting constituents or the environment.

By Capital News Service's Adam Kerlin