Maryland labor and environmental leaders today praised Governor Martin O
Initiative would create thousands of jobs, protect climate
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network 240.460.5838
Jim Strong, United Steelworkers, 410.209.0483
Brad Heavner, Environment Maryland, 410.227.8949
Pete Johnson, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, 240.654.7084
Dave O’Leary, Maryland Sierra Club, 301.580.8673
Jen Mihills, National Wildlife Federation, 302.367.6368
ANNAPOLIS – Maryland labor and environmental leaders today praised Governor Martin O’Malley for introducing legislation which, if passed, would greatly incentivize offshore wind power and create related jobs. Among other benefits, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act (HB 1054) would help stabilize electricity rates, spawn thousands of construction and operations jobs, and reduce pollution equivalent to taking nearly 200,000 Maryland cars off the road.
“Today the Governor has taken a big step toward a new clean-energy economy in Maryland that creates real jobs for our workers,” said Jim Strong, sub-district director for the United Steelworkers in Maryland. “This commitment lays the groundwork for a new strategy to bring manufacturing back to our state.”
The O’Malley bill directs the state’s largest utilities to enter into 20-year purchase agreements with offshore wind developers, who are expected to place wind turbines ten miles or more off the coast of Ocean City, Md. The bill would require between 400 and 600 megawatts of offshore wind development, enough to power nearly all the homes on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
According to the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), the cost to ratepayers would be low — about $1.44 per month in the initial year, or the same as the monthly savings of changing just two traditional light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Relative costs would decline from there, and would likely be cheaper than fossil fuel generation over time.
Meanwhile, the bill would create about 2,000 manufacturing and construction jobs over five years and 400 long-term operations jobs, according to the MEA. The total economic impact of offshore wind for the state could surpass $1.9 billion and generate $14 million in state tax revenues.
“If passed – and we’re confident it will – the O’Malley bill will be the strongest, most sensible offshore wind legislation ever adopted by a U.S. state,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN). “Governor O’Malley is showing that states can lead the way, a critical factor as congressional efforts and international treaty talks on climate change are momentarily stalled.”
Five of Maryland’s top environmental groups strongly endorsed the O’Malley bill Friday. These include CCAN, Environment Maryland, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Maryland Sierra Club, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Environmentalists point out that under this bill, for the first time, the Maryland Public Service Commission will be required to factor in the public health and climate benefits of wind farms when comparing the total cost of wind power development versus new fossil fuel generation. For example, a Delaware study found that a 200-megawatt offshore wind farm would save the state $1 billion in health costs and prevent at least 200 premature deaths related to fossil fuel pollution.
The governor’s bill has already garnered strong support in the General Assembly, including 13 senate and 35 house co-sponsors as of Thursday afternoon, including Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola and House Majority Leader Kumar Barve. Senator Paul Pinsky and Delegate Tom Hucker are lead co-sponsors on the bill.
Learn more about the coalition of Maryland labor and environmental groups promoting wind energy at www.marylandoffshorewind.org.