MD Paves Way to Renewable Electricity with Offshore Wind Energy Act
Historical Times for Maryland and Renewable Energy
March saw a historical moment in Maryland, when the state’s Senate passed a new wind energy law that will require a certain percentage of the state’s electricity consumption to be supplied by offshore wind energy. The move reflects a push in the state to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, most of which are transported into Maryland from other states. The Maryland Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPD) requires that the state receive at least 20% of its electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2022.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act, which was supported by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, will likely create a massive complex of wind turbines off the state’s coast to be used to power homes and businesses. The bill will allow for Maryland to become the first state in the mid-Atlantic to construct an offshore wind farm, positioning the state as a leader and first-mover in offshore wind. Specifically, the act creates a mechanism for the development of up to 500 megawatts (MW) of electric capacity located at least ten nautical miles off Maryland’s shore.
Environmental and Economic Impact
Utility customers will be helping to subsidize the act, which is clearly exposed as a $1.50 per month surcharge on all of Maryland public utilities’ customer bills. Despite the increase in charges, the economic and environmental impact is highly significant. Greenhouse gas emission are expected to be reduced by over 378,000 tons per year with just 200 MW of offshore wind, according to conducted studies. Cleaner air and water will allow for improved public health outcomes, which will save tax payers in the long run.
The total economic impact over five years, based on an analysis by the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, totals to almost $1.3 billion, with $5.6 million in additional state tax revenues. An estimated 850 manufacturing and construction jobs will be created over 5 years, with an additional 160 ongoing supply and operations jobs afterwards.
Maryland is the first state to create a guaranteed market for offshore wind energy and has the potential to lead the nation’s development of a new clean energy industry. The legislation also established a $10 million Offshore Wind Business Development Fund to promote emerging businesses.