Maryland’s bid to become the first state to build an offshore wind farm took a step forward this week when the House of Delegates approved a wind energy infrastructure bill.
If signed into law, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 would help create about 40 wind turbines off Ocean City's coast, according to The Washington Post. The Post also notes that several states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware, are currently working towards developing offshore wind programs. Maryland's proposal passed a second reading in the House of Delegates Wednesday.
Gov. Martin O’Malley is a strong advocate for the wind power legislation, which has failed twice in recent years in the General Assembly.
“Wind is one of Maryland’s two most abundant natural resources,” O'Malley said in a finance committee hearing on the proposal. “The U.S. Department of Energy estimates we could be generating 10,000 megawatts off the coast of our state alone. That’s enough energy to power every home in Maryland. This bill would get the ball rolling with 200 megawatts.”
Earlier this month, the House Economic Matters Committee passed the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 out of committee with a vote of 14 to 7.
The state Senate, where the bill failed last year, has not had its second reading on its companion bill. Senate President Mike Miller has said he supports the measure.
Most state house observers expect wind power legislation to pass both houses and be signed into law.
The wind power proposal could eventually cost rate payers up to an additional $1.50 a month and include a 1.5 percent rate increase for businesses starting in 2017, once turbines begin generating electricity — still years away. However, Del. John Olszewski Jr. in a recent Op-Ed said ultimately that cost of wind power will come down in relation to fossil fuels:
“Much has been made of what could be up to $1.50 a month to support these projects,” Olszewski wrote in a piece published on the Dundalk Patch website. “While many feel that the investment is worth the employment, health, and national security improvements alone, the truth is that this cost will be reduced over time as the cost of fossil fuels continues to rise.”
A Dundalk Democrat, Olszewski added that he believes an offshore wind energy program can create local jobs while providing clean energy, “improving our health, establishing long-term electric price stability, and keeping our air and water clean.”