Large-scale offshore wind energy will soon be a reality in the state of Maryland, thanks to the recent approval of the historic “Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013.” The bill will earmark $1.7 billion dollars for the development of an offshore wind farm along Maryland’s coast. The wind farm will be funded by a $1.50 monthly surcharge on consumer electricity bills.
All that remains now is for the bill to be signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley.
Maryland is a prime location for offshore wind energy thanks to its large expanse of shallow water, significant wind resources, and its already existing industrial infrastructure. When combined with the substantial support in the state for renewable energy, it’s no surprise that the bill passed. As Climate Progress notes, “a 2013 poll [showed that] 72 percent of Maryland residents would be willing to pay $2 more per month for their electricity bills to develop an offshore wind industry.”
Even with the surcharge, the bill should be an economic boon to the region. Climate Progress adds:
The Governor’s office estimates the project would create 850 construction jobs and 160 supply and operation and maintenance jobs. According to an analysis completed by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, a 200 megawatt project would create $1.3 billion in economic activity over a five year period, generating $5.6 million in state tax revenue. And data from the National Academy of Sciences suggests Maryland stands to gain $17 million in annual public health benefits as a result of reduced fossil fuel use for electricity production.
The U.S. is lagging rather far behind many other countries with regards to offshore wind energy. Hopefully the approval of this bill will help to catalyze the development of a national offshore wind industry.
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