Maryland Regulators Approve Nation’s Largest Offshore Wind Proposals to Date
The Public Service Commission (PSC) granted Skipjack Offshore Energy and U.S. Wind offshore wind renewable energy credits (ORECs) today enabling them to move forward with their proposals to build 368 megawatts of offshore wind, located off the coast of Ocean City and Delaware, and creating 9,700 jobs in the process. The approval of these projects puts Maryland in the running for the nation’s largest offshore wind farms.
In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation that paved the way for the state to launch its own offshore wind industry. Just last month, more than 250 people showed up to PSC hearings in Berlin and Annapolis underscoring the widespread support of offshore wind across the state. Various environmental organizations are looking forward to continuing work with the developers to ensure wildlife is protected throughout the construction and operation of the projects.
In addition to jumpstarting the East Coast’s clean energy industry by bringing local jobs and economic development to the state, the inclusion of offshore wind in Maryland’s energy production helps reduce the state’s reliance on coal and other dirty fossil fuels, safeguarding our environment, saving ratepayers’ money and protecting our health.
In response, the following organizations provided the below comments:
“This is a monumental win for the economy and the environment in Maryland,” David Smedick, Maryland Beyond Coal Campaign and Policy Representative for the Sierra Club said. “The people have shown up and spoken out in support of offshore wind and now it’s clear that the state is ready to move forward too. We have been working to get offshore wind to Maryland for over five years so this decision from the PSC is truly one of our biggest moments.”
“By harnessing the power of the wind blowing off our coast, Maryland is creating a clean energy future that protects wildlife and their habitats and communities in the Free State,” Jennifer Mihills, Mid-Atlantic Associate Director, National Wildlife Federation said. “Guided by strong conservation principles, offshore wind can be sited, constructed, and operated in a manner that is protective of our coastal and marine wildlife.”
“With today’s decision by the Public Service Commission, Maryland’s clean energy future couldn’t be brighter. These projects will not only unlock a huge, untapped source of renewable energy, they will create thousands of new jobs in manufacturing and other sectors—all within earshot of President Trump’s White House,” Susan Stevens Miller, staff attorney with Earthjustice's clean energy program said. “Earthjustice is proud to stand with the thousands of Marylanders who worked so hard to make this decision happen. The message from Maryland is clear—clean, renewable, job-creating energy is our future.”
“We applaud the Public Service Commission for putting Maryland at the forefront of the offshore wind industry in the United States,” Karla Raettig, Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters said. “With wide public support and a large grassroots coalition, we passed statewide legislation in 2013 and these projects are an essential part of Maryland's efforts to combat climate change."
“Marylanders suffer from a very high incidence of asthma, cardiovascular disease, and premature death from air pollution emitted by Maryland’s coal-fired power plants. Offshore wind will greatly reduce these health risks by providing pollution-free power,” Sara Via, PhD, Professor and Extension Specialist, University of Maryland, College Park and Co-lead, Climate Health Action Team, at Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility said. “A recent study from Harvard estimates that the health benefits of an offshore wind project approximately the size proposed by US Wind will amount to about $120/month/family, at a cost the PSC estimates will be only about $1/month. That’s a great return on investment!”
“The Maryland Environmental Health Network supports the decision of the PSC to bring large scale offshore wind to Maryland because it is real opportunity to displace pollution that increases poor health outcomes,” Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, Executive Director at the Maryland Environmental Health Network said. “Maryland ranks fifth in the nation in adult asthma and has some of the worst ground level ozone pollution in our region. It's high time to act on climate, and embrace renewable energy as a means to cleaner air and better health for all.”