The third time could be the charm for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's push to get state legislators to support a 200-MW offshore wind project. Passage of enabling legislation now appears likely as the primary statehouse opponent of two past efforts has exited a key committee.
Two bills introduced in the House of Delegates and state Senate on Jan. 28 are substantially identical to legislation that was blocked in the Senate Finance Committee by Sen. Anthony Muse. With his departure, the committee's chairman, Sen. Thomas Middleton (D), says the bill has enough votes to clear the panel. O'Malley (D) said on Jan. 29 that 24 Maryland senators are co-sponsors, enough for passage. The House approved the bill last year by a 2-1 margin.
The legislation would support a wind farm off the Maryland coast using offshore-wind renewable-energy credits. Utilities would be required to purchase enough credits to supply 2.5% of the state's energy. The Maryland Public Service Commission could approve projects that limit residents' added cost to $1.50 on average and non-residential customer's cost to 1.5% of current bills.
O'Malley said state collaboration was important to push wind projects, noting outreach last month to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D). Robert Mitchell, CEO of the Atlantic Wind Connection, which last month announced contracts to build the first leg of a mid-Atlantic undersea transmission cable to support offshore wind generation, said he is hopeful the Maryland legislation will pass.
O'Malley's bill is "meant to kick-start the industry," Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Takoma Park, Md., told ENR. Noting the lack of federal standards, he says states must move development forward (see story, p. 10). Tidwell says efforts in Maryland, New Jersey and, on the Cape Wind project, Massachusetts "will be a sign to the market that this is the next big thing."