ANNAPOLIS, MD (March 23, 2011) – Governor Martin O'Malley today joined local steelworkers, environmental advocates, and legislative leaders at Annapolis’ City Dock to promote the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2011 as Sine Die approaches. Governor O’Malley announced at today’s event the introduction of new amendments that will limit the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) ability to approve projects to only those projects with pricing impacts on Maryland families of less than $2 per month. The O’Malley-Brown Administration and the PSC have each, independently estimated the potential price impact to be even lower than that.
The bill will require that public utilities leverage Maryland's outstanding offshore wind resources by entering into long-term purchase agreements with wind power generation facilities off of the Mid-Atlantic coast. The Governor underscored the importance of offshore wind in leveraging Maryland’s natural assets to promote ‘green’ job creation and generate much needed clean, renewable energy.
“Thanks to the tough choices we’ve made over the last four years, Maryland has emerged as one of the leaders in the effort to harness the power of offshore wind – an industry with the potential to create thousands of jobs and power hundreds of thousands of homes,” said Governor O'Malley. “By requiring the utilities to enter into long-term agreements, we can finally shift our focus from short term profit to our state's long-term energy security, and put these steelworkers back to work building the energy infrastructure of the future.”
Today the O’Malley-Brown Administration is proposing several amendments to the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act. Most importantly, the Governor has proposed a threshold test in which the PSC would kick out any proposals that are projected to raise an average family's electricity bill by more than $2 per month in the first year. It is anticipated that the impact will decrease after that first year, as fossil fuel prices continue to rise. Another important amendment related to price would require the developer of the project to pass along any savings from federal tax incentives to our ratepayers. The Governor has also proposed amendments that would require the PSC to consider, as a criterion of choosing the project, a developer's plan to include minority, women-owned, and small businesses in the development and distribution of offshore wind energy.
Offshore wind could create more than twenty direct jobs per annual megawatt, including jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and skilled labor. A 500MW wind generation facility in the waters off of the Delmarva coast could generate as many as 2,000 manufacturing and construction jobs during the five-year development period, with an additional 400 permanent jobs once the turbines are spinning.
Due to its ideal location in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as the deep-water port and manufacturing infrastructure in Baltimore, Maryland is well positioned to be a leader not only in offshore wind energy generation, but also in ongoing construction and maintenance.
Governor O’Malley was joined by members of the United Steelworkers of Maryland, many of which are headed back to work following the successful acquisition of Baltimore County’s Sparrow’s Point steel mill by New York-based Renco Group.
“I'm proud to stand here today with Governor O'Malley on behalf of the men and women of the United Steelworkers,” said James Strong, local District Director of the United Steelworkers. “Offshore wind presents a tremendous opportunity to secure and expand the steel industry in Maryland and throughout the region.”
In addition to creating new ‘green’ jobs, harnessing the potential of offshore wind power will generate much needed clean, renewable energy, and promote long-term price stability while helping to ensure that Maryland meets its Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of generating 20% of its energy from renewable resources by 2022.
The bill would require that public utilities purchase between 400-600 megawatts (MW) of power from offshore wind generation facilities in federal waters adjacent to the PJM Control Area for a period of 25 years. For residential ratepayer, the PSC currently directs the utilities to procure approximately 25% of their power at a time, in two year contracts, making ratepayers vulnerable to periodic increases in the market price of energy–particularly electricity based on fossil fuel resources. 500 MW of offshore wind energy is enough to power more than half of the homes in the City of Baltimore, or 79% of the homes on Maryland's Eastern Shore.