Maryland regulators OK nation's largest offshore wind plan

Wind's turbines stand in the water off Block Island R.I. Maryland regulators on Thursday

The commission approved offshore renewable energy credits for 368 megawatts of capacity spread across two projects, proposed by U.S. Wind and a subsidiary of Deepwater Wind.

Looking at the economic benefits of just these two Maryland projects makes it clear why leaders on both sides of the aisle recognize the value of offshore wind energy.

The only other offshore wind project in the country, located off the coast of Rhode Island, has five turbines. All applications to the PSC are required to meet criteria spelled out in the 2013 Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act.

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Thanks to the scale of the project, the much-reduced costs of building wind farms, and improved efficiencies of the technology, Gemini's owners anticipate that it will lead to a significant reduction in the price of this source of renewable energy. It will cost about $720 million to build.

Commission chairman W. Kevin Hughes says the decision brings to fruition the General Assembly's efforts to establish Maryland as a regional hub for the developing offshore wind industry. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.

Michael James, who chairs Ocean City's economic-development committee, said business owners and residents will push to ensure that the turbines are as small and as far away from the shoreline as possible. "Offshore wind is coming to the Atlantic Coast, and we want to be part of this exciting new industry".

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Skipjack estimates opening its operation near the end of 2022.

Expected to generate more than $1.8bn of in-state spending, the two projects will create opportunities for approximately 9,700 new direct and indirect jobs, as well as contribute $74m in state tax revenues over a period of 20 years.

Together, the two projects are seen yielding over Dollars 1.8 billion of in-state spending. The company will begin the installation process for the tower immediately and next focus on its application for a Construction and Operations Plan to be submitted later this year to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

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The companies will be required to use port facilities in the Baltimore region and Ocean City for construction, operations and maintenance, fund nearly $40 million in upgrades at the Tradepoint Atlantic (formerly Sparrows Point) shipyard in Baltimore County and invest at least $76 million in a steel fabrication plant in the state (Case No. 9431). It calls for developers to invest at least $76 million in a steel fabrication plant in Maryland and at least $39.6 million for upgrades at Baltimore County's Tradepoint Atlantic shipyard, formerly Sparrows Point.

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