The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act continues to pick up momentum as it heads into a Senate hearing Tuesday.
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 – The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act continues to pick up momentum as it heads into a Senate hearing Tuesday. In the past week, a new manufacturing study showed Maryland’s economy stands to make big gains from offshore wind power, while a Maryland company announced plans for a turbine blade manufacturing facility on the Eastern Shore. Finally, a “price cap” amendment has led the Public Service Commission to significantly reduce its estimate of the possible costs to ratepayers.
“Offshore wind power is no longer about promises,’ said Jim Strong, sub-district director for the United Steelworkers in Maryland. “As we’ve seen in recent days, real manufacturing jobs are coming – and Governor O’Malley’s legislation will make that happen faster as part of a beginning strategy to bring manufacturing back to our state.”
Leaders from Maryland’s labor, manufacturing, health, and environmental communities will testify in favor of the bill before the Senate Finance committee on March 15th. Among other benefits, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act (HB 1054/SB 861) would help stabilize electricity rates, spawn thousands of construction and operations jobs, and result in pollution reductions equivalent to removing 200,000 cars off Maryland’s roads.
The bill gained momentum with word that the Public Service Commission will dramatically reduce its projections of possible price impacts on ratepayers in testimony before the Senate Finance committee on Tuesday. The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) and PSC estimate that the cost of a 500-megawatt wind farm under this bill will be just $1.44 per average Maryland household for the year 2016, and this cost will continually decrease in subsequent years. That is the same amount of money saved by replacing just two standard fluorescent light bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs.
Also boosting momentum was a report last week that more than 1,000 existing Maryland businesses, employing more than 27,000 workers, could provide many of the 8,000 component parts needed for modern wind turbine manufacturing and wind farm construction. Indeed, one Maryland company, AC Wind, last week announced plans to construct a $10 million facility to make turbine blades in Salisbury, employing at least 200 people.
“No other industry in Maryland – none – promises this level of job creation,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “That this also prevents air pollution and helps to solve global warming is the ultimate win-win for our state.”
The total economic benefits of offshore wind energy for the state could surpass $1.9 billion and generate $14 million in state tax revenues, according to the MEA. State health expenditures would benefit too. A Delaware study found that a 200-megawatt offshore wind farm would save that 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.