United States

United States

Maryland looks ahead to 200MW offshore project

Lease planned later this year for site off Ocean City

A draft bill designed to encourage the construction of a 200MW wind farm in waters off the US state of Maryland has been unveiled by the state's governor, and a development area has been designated 10 miles (16km) off Ocean City.

The site "is expected to be leased to developers later this year", according to state governor Martin O'Malley.

Presenting the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 on 22 January, O'Malley emphasised that an offshore wind farm would create local jobs. "In Maryland, our emerging green sector is a critically important part of our Innovation Economy, and therefore our ability to create jobs and compete globally," said O'Malley.

If a 200MW offshore wind farm is built, O'Malley argues that almost 850 manufacturing and construction jobs would be created over a five-year period, with an additional 160 longer-term supply and operation and maintenance (O&M) posts also on the cards.

Maryland's intention to support offshore wind development became clear last year, when state agencies announced a full programme of marine environmental surveys.

The draft legislation would allow the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve plans for an offshore wind farm if the project's impact on state ratepayers is forecast to be below $1.50 (€1.13) per household or 1.5% for non-residential ratepayers. In addition, developers will have to provide evidence that their project would have a "net economic benefit" via job creation, economic development and "protecting public health".

The act would also establish a $10m offshore wind business development fund, which would support small and minority businesses in winning relevant contracts.

Further north along the US east coast, the state of New Jersey is seeking to end a stalemate that has kept it from introducing a financial mechanism that would support offshore wind such as Fishermen's Energy's Atlantic City project. Meanwhile, Bechtel and Alstom have been commissioned by Atlantic Wind Connection to build an offshore electricity transmission cable off New Jersey in order to support offshore wind development in the area.

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