Maryland regulators OK nation's largest offshore wind plan

Frederick Owens
May 13, 2017

The Maryland Public Service Commission has awarded offshore wind renewable energy credits (OREC) to two power projects to be constructed off the coast of Maryland, US.

The Maryland Public Service Commission awarded renewable energy credits for two projects off Maryland's Eastern Shore near Ocean City.

The decision, announced on 11 May 2017, enables US Wind Inc and Skipjack Offshore Energy LLC to construct 368 megawatts (MW) of capacity.

Those projects significantly outrank by size the nation's sole offshore wind farm known as Block Island off Rhode Island.

Comprising 150 wind turbines situated some 85 km (53 miles) north of the Dutch city of Groningen, Gemini wind park has a 600 MW generating capacity and is thought to be one of the world's largest offshore wind farms. We believe it represents a step forward in proving offshore wind as a means of renewable power generation, but also in delivering a new industry to the state of Maryland that has potential to create meaningful manufacturing and logistics jobs.

US Wind is expected to spend United States dollars 1.375 billion on building its offshore wind park.

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The Maryland General Assembly approved a regulatory framework for offshore wind in 2013, after repeated efforts by then-Gov.

The plan comes at some cost for electricity ratepayers, once electricity is produced by the wind farms.

Michael James, who chairs Ocean City's economic-development committee, said business owners and residents will push to ensure that the turbines are as small and as far away from the shoreline as possible. "Offshore wind projects are a crucial part of America's energy future".

"This decision cements Maryland as a first-mover - we will now be the epicenter of this exciting new industry for decades to come", said Paul Rich, director of project development for US Wind.

Together, the two projects are seen yielding over Dollars 1.8 billion of in-state spending. "88192-Case-No. -9431-Offshore-Wind.pdf">order included more than two dozen conditions, including requirements that the developers create nearly 5,000 direct jobs during the development, construction and operating phases of the projects. The company will begin the installation process for the tower immediately and next focus on its application for a Construction and Operations Plan to be submitted later this year to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The developers must invest collectively at least US$76 million in a steel fabrication plant in Maryland and together fund at least US$39.6 million to support port upgrades at the Tradepoint Atlantic (formerly Sparrows Point) shipyard in Baltimore County.

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