Hogan-appointed commission can legally speed up approval of clean energy projects, creating thousands of jobs. Voters in poll conducted by Patrick Gonzales support faster action. Biggest support comes from Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.
TAKOMA PARK, MD – With over half a million Marylanders newly out of work due to COVID-19, a new poll shows that voters want the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to move faster in approving solar farms and wind farms. Over 40 solar projects are currently held up on regulatory wait lists — as are three wind farms on either end of the state. A new Gonzales Poll shows the public wants a change, with nearly two-thirds of both Democrats and Republicans saying the PSC should move faster.
The poll arrives at a pivotal moment for the PSC. Its five commissioners, appointed by Republican Governor Larry Hogan, reopened hearings last week related to two offshore wind farms. The commission will also vote on Wednesday of this week on a long-delayed wind farm in Allegany County in Western Maryland. Meanwhile, 40 solar projects proposed for the state are in various stages of “shovel readiness” but are tied up in PSC red tape with help from another government agency called the Power Plant Research Project.
“In an era marked by political division, this new poll shows incredible bipartisan consensus that the Maryland PSC should act faster for workers and clean air,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the group that commissioned the survey. “Perhaps never in Maryland’s history have government regulators been in a better position to help so many suffering families while protecting the planet.”
In the Gonzales poll, 64% percent of Maryland voters surveyed said the PSC should move faster in approving wind and solar generation projects in the state. The numbers were highest in Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore, the two majority-Republican parts of the state where many of the largest wind and solar projects are being proposed. In Western Maryland, 70%of voters say the PSC should act faster. On the Eastern Shore/Southern Maryland, the number was 73%. Clearly Republican voters are eager to see faster economic development and jobs from wind and solar power. Statewide, 63% of Republican voters said the PSC should move faster. Sixty-five percent of Democrats said the same as did 66% of independents.
For more background on the PSC’s slowness in approving clean energy projects, read Mike Tidwell’s oped in the Washington Post from June 5.
Here is the Gonzales poll question: “450,000 Marylanders have filed for unemployment benefits with the Covid-19 shutdown. Meanwhile, over 40 solar energy farms have been proposed for construction in Maryland but are tied up in bureaucratic delays. It now takes one and half years to get a solar farm approved. Similar delays could affect a proposed land-based wind farm and two offshore projects. The Maryland Public Service Commission, which regulates these projects, can by law speed up this process and create thousands of jobs. With the recession, do you think the Public Service Commission should act faster, or not?”
The Gonzales Research & Media Services firm surveyed 810 registered voters in Maryland between May 19 and May 23, 2020. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5%.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.chesapeakeclimate.org.CCAN-Report-May-2020