Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act is Key to MD Climate Future
Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act is Key to MD Climate Future
OFFSHORE WIND IS A CLIMATE SOLUTION!
As part of a coalition of climate advocates, CCAN helped pass the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, committing Maryland to reduce climate pollution by 60% by 2031. Developing more clean energy-especially offshore wind- in Maryland will be key to meeting that goal. Offshore wind is Maryland’s most abundant energy resource and the next few years hold huge opportunity – but we must act now!
That’s why we’re supporting the Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act of 2023 (Senate Bill 0781 / House Bill 0793). With this bill, Maryland policymakers can support the expansion of offshore wind power by setting an offshore wind goal of 8.5 GW by 2031, initiating a state process to coordinate transmission infrastructure, and investing in the full build-out of the existing lease areas.
Update: The Maryland Senate PASSED the Power Act! Now on to the House of Delegates. Read more here.
In April of 2022, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that they are in the process of developing additional commercial leasing areas for offshore wind. These potential wind energy lease areas include two areas (A and B) off of the Maryland cost, comprising approximately 235,222 and 652,218 acres respectively. These lease areas could come up for auction in 2023.
Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration has set a goal of 30 new gigawatts of domestic offshore wind by 2030. This would power 10 million homes, support 77,000 jobs, and spur economic development up and down the supply chain. And with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which extends the investment tax credit for renewable energy projects, the timing to expand offshore wind in Maryland couldn’t be better!
With strong offshore wind policy, we make Maryland a national clean energy leader!
The POWER Act: What It Does
- Creates An Offshore Wind Energy Goal. Many states, in our region and beyond, have established offshore wind development goals through executive orders or legislation. These goals help signal to the market and regulators on the federal and state level that the state is friendly to offshore wind and has aspirations for investments in the industry. Setting a total of 8.5 GW as our state’s goal will help establish Maryland as an epicenter for additional development.
- Transmission Improvements. Offshore wind projects in Maryland face a significant barrier to connecting to the grid. Transmission has been handled in the past on a project-by-project basis. To improve efficiency, experts recommend a more coordinated approach that would reduce congestion of multiple lines, increase carbon reduction potential and minimize environmental impacts. Passing legislation directing the state to manage a competitive transmission procurement, Maryland could establish a coordinated transmission network that solves the issue of interconnection and builds resilience and reliability.
- Building Out Existing Lease Areas. Both Orsted and US Wind have existing space in their lease areas for roughly 700 – 800 additional megawatts each but the current policy (largely the Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit price cap) does not allow for additional development without impacting ratepayers. If additional projects could be built without the cost or risk accruing to rate-payers, Maryland could benefit from up to 1600 MW of additional offshore wind energy. This would be possible with direct purchasing contracts by the state.
Offshore Wind, Onshore Benefits
Making Maryland a Manufacturing Leader
Maryland has the potential to become the East Coast manufacturing hub for this growing industry, putting us at the forefront of the clean energy transition and reducing our reliance on harmful fossil fuels.
Baltimore’s deepwater port and underused industrial areas make the region a prime location for wind turbine manufacturing and assembly. Maryland’s Public Service Commission required the two wind companies to invest $115 million in manufacturing facilities and port upgrades in and around Sparrows Point, or a similar port facility, and contribute $6 million to an offshore wind business development fund. This economic activity will prioritize small businesses and businesses owned by people of color.
In August of 2021, US Wind announced plans to build a new steel fabrication facility at the Tradepoint Atlantic site in Baltimore County, now called Sparrows Point Steel. With this announcement, they also announced a $77 million investment in a 90-acre port facility and labor agreements with the Baltimore-D.C. Building & Construction trades union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to provide union labor to support US Wind’s Maryland projects. Another wind developer, Orsted, has teamed up with Crystal Steel Fabricators, located in Federalsburg, MD, to supply steel components for wind turbines up and down the East Coast, further establishing Maryland as a supply hub for the offshore wind industry.
Offshore wind has the potential to create thousands of family-sustaining jobs in Baltimore and across the state. The U.S. Department of Energy has found that jobs associated with the offshore wind industry have average annual earnings (including benefits) of $141,000 for onsite workers.Already, we are seeing economic growth and job creation as a result of these pending projects, including bringing steel back to Baltimore.
Research recently published by the Gabel Associates highlights that 6,000 MW of offshore wind energy deployed in Maryland would result in significant avoided lifetime air emissions including
- 361,445,105 tons of avoided CO2
- 120,508 of avoided SO2
- 128,931 of avoided NOX.
This amounts to roughly $23,750 million in avoided damages.
Offshore wind energy offers the potential to lower energy bills for Maryland consumers by generating revenue in energy markets and wholesale capacity markets.
What do Marylanders really think about offshore wind? They love it!
There is widespread support for offshore wind across Maryland. In December 2017, OpinionWorks found that 72% of residents of the Lower Eastern Shore supported US Wind’s project, and between February 11th – 17th, 2020, Bellwether Research conducted interviews statewide among Maryland voters which found that:
- More than seven in ten (72%) voters statewide (and 65% of voters in Worcester County) favor the Skipjack offshore wind farm.
- Beachfront property owners in Ocean City are as supportive (67%) as those who live inland (65%).
- Nearly all (86%) Ocean City vacationers say they would continue to vacation in Ocean City if there were wind turbines off the coast.
- Most voters (67%) think tourism in Ocean City will largely stay the same, while 11% say it will increase.
Despite this broad support, some elected officials in Ocean City have come out in opposition to the wind farms as “visual pollution” that could harm tourism and property values. And fossil fuel interests have been pushing the false narrative that offshore wind is harmful to whales.
These concerns are unfounded. NOAA and BOEM have firmly stated that there are no known connections between offshore wind activities and recent whale strandings, and Baltimore Sun referred to the “visual pollution” concerns as “ludicrous.” First, the visual impacts of the wind turbines will be minimal, since they will be built 19+ miles off the coast, appearing to be about the size of your thumbnail held at arm’s length on the horizon as you can see in these visual simulations of various sizes of turbines. Second, 64% of Marylanders polled by Gonzales Research & Media Services said that offshore wind projects would not affect their decision to rent or buy property in Ocean City. And 16% said that offshore wind projects would make them more likely to rent or purchase seaside property.
Furthermore, many people see wind turbines as beautiful symbols of the clean energy future, not “visual pollution.” In May 2018, CCAN worked with a coalition of artists and faith leaders to put on two art shows that highlighted the beauty of wind power. Learn more about the “Wonders of the Wind” art show here.
TAKE ACTION: VOLUNTEER WITH US
Want to up your climate impact and join the movement to bring more offshore wind to Maryland? Sign up to volunteer or become an Action Member today.
- MD Senate Passes Landmark Offshore Wind Legislation That Would Create Good Jobs, Lower Energy Costs, and Reduce Pollution, 3/20/23
- Md. Public Service Commission Decision Expand Offshore Wind Development, 12/17/21
- Hundreds Attend Offshore Wind Hearing In Ocean City Maryland Coast Dispatch, 1/20/20
- Ocean City wrong to oppose offshore wind project, Delmarva Now, 1/29/20
- Inside the fight over Maryland offshore wind project, Energywire, 1/24/20
- Huge Crowd Has its Say on Wind Farms off Maryland and Delaware Coast, Now the Wait Begins, WBOC, 1/18/20
- What Md.’s Clean Energy Jobs Act means for offshore wind developers. Baltimore Business Journal. 5/29/19.
- Rodricks: Wind resistance in Ocean City is ludicrous. The Baltimore Sun. 6/12/18.
- Ocean City’s effort to keep windmills far offshore fails as Maryland delegates reject proposal. The Baltimore Sun. 3/12/18.
- Maryland regulators greenlight two major offshore wind projects. The Washington Post. 5/12/17.
- Offshore Wind Energy is a Breeze: Environmental & Wildlife Impacts
- Offshore Wind Energy is a Breeze: Economic Benefits
- Offshore Wind Energy is a Breeze: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Bringing Offshore Wind to MD: Inspiration from Block Island
- How clean energy policy is bringing steel back to Baltimore
- Fact sheet: The POWER Act
- Senate Bill 781
- House Bill 793
- Fact sheet: Coalition support for The POWER Act
- Report: Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Offshore Wind Energy Development in Maryland
- Offshore Wind is Protecting Whales
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Potential Offshore Wind Developments in Delaware and Maryland
- Blog: How Clean Energy Policy is Bringing Steel Back to Baltimore
This page’s featured image is offshore wind in the United Kingdom (Ashley Cooper/Barcroft Media/Getty Images)