Former Governor O’Malley’s efforts to approve offshore wind farms have been approved and are expected to help the economy in an environmentally friendly way.Thursday, May 11 marked a significant and historic day as state regulators officially approved the plans for offshore wind farms. The State hopes that the move will help propel Maryland to the forefront of the emerging industry. Energy credits were awarded by the Maryland Public Service Commission to two projects set to launch near Ocean City. Skipjack Offshore Energy and US Wind of Baltimore will be allowed to build a capacity of 368 megawatts total. Currently, there is only one offshore wind farm in the entire nation called Block Island, which is just off the shores of Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind, of which Skipjack Offshore Energy is a part of, owns the Rhode Island farm which has only a 30-megawatt capacity and five turbines. US Wind is proposing to build 62 turbines in a 15-mile stretch that will produce 248 megawatts, the cost of building the turbines is estimated at $1.4 billion. Meanwhile Skipjack plans to build 15 turbines in a 21-mile stretch, which will produce 120 megawatts and has a price tag of $720 million.
The framework of offshore wind was previously approved in 2013 by the Maryland General Assembly, then Governor Martin O’Malley made repeated efforts of approving the proposed projects. Once the wind farms start to produce electricity, the impact on utility bills will be a roughly $1.40 increase for residential customers while industrial and commercial customers’ bills will be no more than 1.4 percent higher annually. US Wind’s project is expected to be operational in early 2020 while Skipjack will likely begin functional operations by the latter part of 2022. While in the short term there are costs involved, the projects are also expected to generate revenue via the creation of 9,700 new jobs which is expected to yield $74 million in tax revenue in the next twenty years. The Maryland Public Service Commission also estimates that $1.8 billion will be spent in-state as the two projects convene. In addition to port facilities planned in Ocean City, developers will also be investing $76 billion towards the construction of a steel fabrication plant as well as a $39.6 million upgrade of the former Sparrows Point shipyard, now known as the Tradepoint Atlantic Shipyard. Beyond spurring economic growth and creating jobs, the project is good news for the State, residents and environmentalists as wind farms will help to enable Maryland to meet clean and renewable energy goals.
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