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The Maryland Senate recently voted in favor (40-6) of the House of Representatives' changes to Senate Bill (S.B.) 566, which would allow a developer to build a wind farm without acquiring a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN).

The bill - which was sponsored by Senators Thomas Mike Miller Jr., John Astle, Rob Garagiola, Delores Kelley, Katherine Klausmeier, Thomas Middleton and Katherine Pugh - was first passed by the Senate on March 24 in a 42-4 vote. The House then passed the bill on March 31 in a 124-14 vote; however, the House included amendments. The Senate then approved the House's amendments on April 2 with a 40-6 vote.

The House's amendments include a second section that states the Public Service Commission (PSC) must report to the governor, the Senate Finance Committee and the House of Economic Matters Committee by February 1 of each year for three years to review the number of wind farm applications and their locations, the status of their applications, as well as the status of regulatory actions undertaken by the Senate or local agencies.

According to the Maryland legislation, certain criteria must be met for developers to forego the CPCN. The capacity of a wind farm must not exceed 70 MW, and the excess electricity must be sold on the wholesale market through an interconnection, operation and maintenance agreement with the local electricity company. In addition, PSC must provide an opportunity for public comment hearings within a county or municipality where the proposed wind farm would be located. The legislation adds that Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., must sign the bill in order for it to be in effect by July 1 of this year.

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