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November 9, 2010

Boost for Maryland offshore wind hopes

Maryland has taken a significant step toward bringing offshore wind power generation to its coast.

Governor Martin O'Malley and the Maryland Energy Administration yesterday joined BOEMRE to announce that the federal government has accepted the planning recommendations of the Maryland Offshore Wind Task Force and yesterday. Yesterday it issued both a Request for Interest (RFI) and a map of an offshore wind leasing area in federal waters adjacent to Maryland's Atlantic Coast. Maryland is the second state in the U.S. to reach this point in the process.

"Today's announcement marks another step forward for Maryland's new economy," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "By harnessing the outstanding wind resources off of Maryland's coast, we can create thousands of green collar jobs, reduce harmful air pollution, and bring much needed, additional clean energy to Maryland."

Governor O'Malley has made offshore wind a priority in Maryland's efforts to generate 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2022, citing the potential for job creation and the abundant wind resources available. A one gigawatt offshore wind farm off of the Maryland coast could create as many as 4,000 jobs in manufacturing and construction during the five year development period, with an additional 800 permanent jobs once the turbines are spinning.

Yesterday's announcement follows nearly two years of planning. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources worked with the Maryland Energy Administration, the Maryland Offshore Wind Task Force, and other outside partners like the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative and Environmental Research, to develop a comprehensive understanding of the various environmental and stakeholder concerns that would impact any proposed offshore wind development. The result was a draft marine spatial planning area that represented the collective input of federal, state, and local stakeholders and formed the basis for the map released by BOEMRE.

The western edge of the RFI area for proposed wind generation is located approximately 10 nautical miles from the Ocean City coast and the eastern edge is approximately 27 nautical miles from the Ocean City coast.

Maryland offshore wind advocates say the state's proximity to planned wind farms in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as the deep water port and manufacturing infrastructure in Baltimore, position it to be a leader not only in offshore wind energy generation, but also in ongoing construction and maintenance.

This summer, Governor O'Malley and Delaware Governor Jack Markell wrote to President Obama proposing a federal-state partnership for the development of a power purchase agreement for offshore wind energy. The development of one gigawatt of wind energy in the mid-Atlantic region could lead to the creation of thousands of clean energy jobs.

Also this summer, Governor O'Malley formally entered Maryland into a formal partnership in the newly formed Atlantic Offshore Wind Consortium. The group, comprising states along the Atlantic coastline and the United States Department of the Interior, will work to coordinate regionally prominent issues surrounding the development of off shore wind along the Atlantic outer continental shelf.

"Thanks to Governor O'Malley's leadership Maryland is exceptionally well positioned to become leader in the emerging offshore wind industry, which has the potential to create or secure thousands of jobs and keep Maryland Smart, Green, and Growing," said Malcolm Woolf, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration.


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