The Washington Post reports:
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's childhood friend and right-hand man for a decade stands to gain from the governor's ambitious plan to subsidize development of an estimated $1.5 billion offshore wind farm...As the governor's chief of staff, Enright was deeply involved with energy issues but later said he never significantly contributed to the administration's wind energy policy. Before he left the governor's office in January 2010, he requested an ethics review clearing him and his new employer to work on the wind energy initiative. Weeks later, Beowulf Energy and Enright filed paperwork with the state identifying the company as an interested developer of offshore wind.
According to the Post, Enright "became fast friends with O'Malley at age 14, was a football buddy in high school and became O'Malley's first deputy mayor in Baltimore and ultimately his chief of staff in Annapolis."
The story focuses on the appearance of impropriety. But the main impropriety is not in the possibility that the friend will make profits off policies he helped encourage. The impropriety is that ratepayers won't have a choice (other than at the ballot box) whether to subsidize such an extravagance. If wind power is such a good idea, why do rates have to go up to fund it?
The article does note "the cost of the subsidy in Maryland, however, would be spread among nearly every ratepayer for the next quarter-century. The monthly cost for most has been estimated at $1.44 to $3.61."
By framing it as a monthly cost it sounds small. But $3.61 a month for 25 years is $1,083. If some individual wants to spend $1,083 on a windmill, that's one thing, but for the government to take it from individuals who'd prefer to spend it on other things and then give the money to the governor's friend so that he can build windmills with it.