Governor Martin O’Malley introduced the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013. Identical in all substantive respects to the bill that overwhelmingly passed the House of Delegates last year, this measure will operate within Maryland’s existing Renewable Portfolio Standard to create a framework that will support a major offshore wind project.
Based on a report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a major 200 MW project would create almost 850 manufacturing and construction jobs for five years and an additional 160 ongoing supply and Operations & Maintenance (O&M) jobs thereafter. Additional projects, both in Maryland and in the region, would lead to a significant new sustainable industry for Maryland workers.
“In this competitive New Economy, the states that win will be those that succeed in leveraging innovation into job creation and economic growth,” said Governor O’Malley. “In Maryland, our emerging green sector is a critically important part of our Innovation Economy, and therefore our ability to create jobs and compete globally. By choosing to move forward with this legislation, we’re not only creating jobs, but we are also laying the groundwork for a better, more sustainable future for our children.”
The Governor was joined by members of the General Assembly, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the NAACP, members of the Business Coalition for Maryland Offshore Wind, other business leaders, and members of the Maryland Climate Coalition.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, which has 24 co-sponsors in the Senate and 58 co-sponsors in the House of Delegates, creates a mechanism to incentivize the development of a major 200 megawatt offshore wind facility and establish a regulatory framework that will allow additional projects to interconnect in Maryland.
“Alternative energy is critical to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, cleaning the Chesapeake Bay, and maintaining the high quality of life that we enjoy here in Maryland,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.
“Creating offshore wind opportunities are not only good for the State’s long-term energy needs and the health of the environment, but also a good employment engine for Maryland,” said Speaker Michael E. Busch. “I commend Governor O’Malley for continuing to advance strong clean energy goals for the State.”
The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 provides the same “strike zone” of ratepayer protections as the bill that enjoyed 88-43 support in the House of Delegates in 2012. The bill will only allow the Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve a proposed offshore wind farm if it projects that the additional ratepayer impact is below $1.50 per household or 1.5 percent for non-residential customers.
Developers must demonstrate that any project proposed will demonstrate a net economic benefit to the state by creating jobs, economic development and protecting public health. The 2013 legislation also contains a $10 million Offshore Wind Business Development Fund targeted to small and minority businesses to assist them in preparing to participate in this new industry.
Working with the U.S. Department of Interior, Maryland agencies have helped designate a Maryland “Wind Energy Area” 10 nautical miles east of Ocean City that is expected to be leased to developers later this year.
The O’Malley-Brown Administration remains committed to creating a more sustainable future for Maryland. Through the third quarter of 2012, the EmPOWER Maryland initiative has saved 2.0 million megawatt-hours, an equivalent of taking about 167,000 houses off the grid. Since 2007, Maryland’s solar capacity has increased more than 700 times, adding more than 2,000 high-paying jobs, and the state has reduced peak electricity demand almost nine percent. To date, the Administration is more than a third of the way toward reaching its goal of reducing per capita electricity consumption by 15 percent in Maryland by 2015.