County Council members Tuesday publicly chastised the council president for urging the state to delay a Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. project that would benefit the town of Perryman.
In a Nov. 15 letter to the Public Service Commission, Jeffrey D. Wilson, the council president, also said he favored proceeding immediately with another electricity-producing project -- one proposed by a BG&E competitor for South Baltimore.
"It looks to me like you're taking away from Harford the potential of $8 million in tax revenue, and it baffles me why a council member would suggest such a thing. I'm also surprised you didn't talk to me about it, since Perryman is in my district," said Councilman RobertS. Wagner, R-District E. "When the comments came to me from Perryman, I didn't know what was going on."
"I didn't realize you regardedme as your leader," a red-faced Wilson retorted at one point in the discussion. "Next time I'll try to do better."
In his letter to PSC Chairman Frank O. Heintz, Wilson stated he supported a proposal by Cogen Technologies Inc., a non-utility power generating company basedin Houston that wants to build a 500-megawatt co-generation plant inSouth Baltimore. Co-generation plants create electricity and steam that could be sold to provide power for area businesses.
In the letter, Wilson said:
"The County Council of Harford County has taken no corporate position at this time, and thus I represent myself only in my capacity as the countywide elected president of the Council . ..
"The further postponement of Baltimore Gas and Electric's proposal will allow Maryland to receive the benefit of an economic catalyst through the development of the Cogen Technologies cogeneration plant in South Baltimore."
Wilson also wrote that he was concerned about having both industrial and residential development in Perryman. Healso said in the letter that he believes BG&E's project should be postponed until "land use and environmental issues can be resolved."
Debate on the issue Tuesday was triggered when Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, made a motion at the end of the council session requesting that the minutes reflect that Wilson's position was not that of the council. Councilman Barry T. Glassman, R-District D, anemployee of BG&E, left the room during the discussion.
"My first and strongest point is that any member of the council is entitled to write a letter on this issue," said Wilson.
BG&E now operates four50-megawatt combustion turbines at the site. The utility is seeking permission from the PSC to build four natural-gas fired turbines thatwould initially add 600 megawatts of generating capacity at the Perryman site, along the Bush River near Aberdeen Proving Ground.
County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann has publicly supported the Perryman expansion since it was proposed, saying the project is important as the county tries to convince more industries, which will need power, torelocate here.
Frank Fulton, director of consumer assistance and public affairs for the PSC, said the proposal became complicated whenCogen Technologies made its own proposal known.
"Cogen Technologies wants to sell power to BG&E, and BG&E wants to add generating capacity at the Perryman installation to meet consumers' power needs. Cogen Technologies doesn't think BG&E should have to do that," said Fulton. "In a nutshell, Cogen is saying BG&E won't have to construct the generating plant in Harford County if BG&E buys power from them."
Art Slusark, a spokesman for BG&E, said the utility wants to proceed with the Perryman expansion, arguing it would be impractical to buy electricity from Cogen.