ANNAPOLIS – A broad coalition of civic, environmental, faith, and business groups today applauded Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s introduction of legislation to incentivize the development of offshore wind power along the state’s coastline.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012 would set up a market-driven process to incentivize the construction of approximately 100 ocean-based wind turbines capable of producing electricity equivalent to 71 percent of the Maryland Eastern Shore's current demand. Responding to concerns expressed by legislators during the 2011 General Assembly session, this year’s bill includes several provisions to protect consumers and stimulate Maryland’s economy. The bill is modeled on an approach already adopted by New Jersey’s state legislature with bipartisan support.
“Maryland is sitting next a treasure chest of offshore wind. Right now we have the technology to tap this resource and power a million homes in Maryland with clean, local offshore wind power. It’s just a matter of getting started,” said Tommy Landers, Campaign Director for Environment Maryland.
“Wind works for our environment, our health, and our economy, and Gov. O’Malley is showing great leadership by making this a top priority in Annapolis in 2012. He’s coming back this year with an approach that’s market-driven and already underway in New Jersey. It’s time to put Maryland at the front of the curve and bring this emerging industry to our state, residents and businesses,” added Landers.
“Governor O’Malley today renewed his commitment to making Maryland a hub of the emerging offshore wind power industry in America. This forward-thinking legislation will help protect our air, water and public health for years to come, as it creates thousands of jobs and helps revive Maryland’s economy,” said Josh Tulkin, State Director of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Marylanders support offshore wind energy. Other states are already looking to tap the tremendous potential of the wind blowing off our coast. This is the year for Maryland to get ahead of the curve and move forward with clean, local offshore wind power.”
Recent polling shows that a strong majority of Marylanders support offshore wind development and are ready to invest in this clean-energy resource. A moderate-sized 450 megawatt offshore wind farm would create 2,150 jobs and save the state $4 billion in health costs linked to coal-fired electricity.
“Maryland should continue to work towards becoming one of the first states to deploy offshore wind; it will us in the best position for job creation in this new industry,” says Ross Tyler, organizer of the newly-formed Business Coalition for Maryland Offshore Wind. “I encourage the General Assembly to do the right thing for Maryland’s business community and our workers by passing this important legislation.”
Marylanders for Offshore Wind – a statewide coalition of pro-wind organizations -- held a series of six town hall meetings across the state this past fall to highlight the economic and environmental merits of ocean-based wind energy. The coalition also held a rally on the opening day of this year’s General Assembly in support of offshore wind legislation. More than 100 activists chanted and applauded outside the State House as elected officials declared their support, including House Majority Leader Kumar Barve and Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola.