Offshore wind in Maryland has the potential for 850 manufacturing and construction jobs over five years, and 160 jobs after that. It will offer competitively priced energy to Maryland consumers- when the fuel cost is 0, and not subject to the demand problems of fossil fuels, there is less fluctuation in the market, and a stable energy supply, with a stable price tag. The bill that was passed by Governor O’Malley, at the long time behest of citizen’s groups, environmentalists, and electric vehicle enthusiasts, ensures that the initial kilowatt hour cost of the new wind energy cannot be much more expensive than the fossil fuel equivalent. As the volume of wind energy produced increases, the price will lower to reflect that. The fact that it took until 2013, when investors and developers have been vying for the leasing rights since 2009 and activists clamoring for the development before even that, speaks to the power of fossil fuels in government, even one as typically liberal as Maryland’s.
This bill is a boon to Maryland. Nine companies are volleying for the leasing rights to construct these turbines, and a decision is expected sometime this year. It will lighten the load of imported electricity- Maryland currently imports 30% of the energy it uses. Imported energy is more expensive per kilowatt because of transmission congestion and line losses, so a stable, renewable source of energy right at home will be a cost effective solution to the problem of energy demand in Maryland. Moreover, the 200 kilowatt project could power 1/3 of the homes on the Eastern Shore- and that’s a bright idea.
Edit: Thanks to Charlie Garlow for his point about activists’ role in the bill’s passing and Maryland’s future role as a leader in clean energy.