Offshore Wind in Maryland
Maryland is well on its way to bringing offshore wind to the Free State. The wind blowing off Maryland’s Atlantic coast is a vast, untapped energy source and offshore wind has the power to provide clean energy, create family-supporting jobs, reduce pollution, and help future generations from the dangerous impacts of climate change.
In 2013, with the passage of the Maryland Offshore Wind Act, Maryland put the building blocks in place for offshore wind development. Now Maryland is on its way to harnessing the power of offshore wind to build a modern clean energy economy.
The 2013 legislation provided safeguards for ratepayers, incentivizes the construction of a 248 megawatt wind farm, requires electricity suppliers to purchase Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credits (OREC), and carves out up to 2.5% of the state’s energy supply for offshore wind energy, creating a demand for the new clean energy source. The legislation also includes provisions for Maryland’s small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, to ensure that they are ready to participate in the offshore wind supply chain.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) granted Skipjack Offshore Energy and U.S. Wind offshore wind renewable energy credits (ORECs) today enabling them to move forward with their proposals to build 368 megawatts of offshore wind, located off the coast of Ocean City and and Delaware, and creating 9,700 jobs in the process. The approval of these projects puts Maryland in the running for the nation’s largest offshore wind farms.
Harnessing the power of offshore wind will build a modern clean energy economy with thousands of skilled, family-supporting jobs.
Manufacturing turbines and the associated equipment like foundations, sub-stations, and new transmission lines will create jobs. New jobs to construct, maintain and operate an offshore wind energy farm will be created. In addition, the offshore wind industry will utilize and further invest in the infrastructure and skilled workforce of the Port of Baltimore and the Lower Eastern Shore.
Maryland As An Atlantic Offshore Wind Hub
While Europe has over 80 offshore wind projects producing over 11,000 megawatts of clean energy, the burgeoning U.S. industry is just beginning to develop this tremendous untapped offshore wind resource. This presents an opportunity for Maryland to put our businesses and our workers at the forefront of this imminent American industry.
Maryland offers a central location in the Mid-Atlantic and is ideal to be central hub for supporting other Atlantic offshore wind projects. If Maryland is the first state in the U.S. to move forward with a large wind farm, other future Atlantic offshore wind projects will also utilize Maryland’s infrastructure and workforce skills to meet operational needs for the industry that don’t yet exist in the U.S.
In Europe, Denmark was the first country to develop offshore wind. In doing so it developed offshore wind expertise and infrastructure, and as a result, has become the hub for all offshore wind projects in Europe. Maryland has an opportunity to become a leader on offshore wind in the U.S. The federal government has leased over 1 million acres of offshore wind area on the East Coast, including Maryland’s 80,000 acres.
Maryland is poised to be a leader in offshore wind in the U.S., but it is important that we move forward with offshore wind now in order to gain that position. If the Public Service Commission approves an offshore wind project Maryland will be the first state in the U.S. moving forward with a large wind farm. However, other states are not far behind Maryland in offshore wind development. Maryland must move first to seize this opportunity.
Using more clean, renewable energy means cleaner air and water for Marylanders. Dirty energy from burning of fossil fuels is one of the main reasons that 75% of Marylanders live in an areas that received a D or F air quality grade from the American Lung Association in 2015.
According to a recent report by Synapse Energy Economics, a 200MW offshore wind farm in Maryland would result in $75 million in benefits from avoided mortality due to reduced SO2 and NOx emissions, as well as the climate benefits from reduced carbon pollution.
Electric Reliability Benefits
Offshore wind development off Maryland’s coast will also help to bring long-term electric price stability to Maryland customers. Diversifying the east coast’s energy mix is critical for protecting customers from price spikes in the volatile fossil fuel markets. Offshore wind provides steady, reliable, and strong wind resources with no fuel costs. Through the Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit, Maryland will lock in stable electric rates for twenty years. A Maryland offshore wind project will also reduce costs to customers by providing electric congestion relief on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Offshore wind also provides steady, reliable, and strong wind resources presenting a massive, local clean power opportunity. It is a key part of transitioning our nation off of dirty energy sources like coal and natural gas and towards a clean energy future. Offshore wind produces the most energy when we need it the most – during hot summer days and cold winters. Today, utilities must use the dirtiest and costliest sources of power to supply those periods of peak demand.