Atlantic Offshore Wind Power Within Reach for Maryland
Annapolis, MD — Over 1.5 million acres off the Atlantic coast have been designated for offshore wind power development, enough to produce over 16,000 megawatts of electricity and power more than five million homes, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation and Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center released in partnership with the Maryland Climate Coalition. “Catching the Wind: State Actions Needed to Seize the Golden Opportunity of Atlantic Offshore Wind Power” also contains a new analysis showing how the strong, consistent winds offshore can provide power to Maryland right when we need it most – bringing down energy costs and local pollution. The report comes on the heels of an announcement last week by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management of an August 19 auction of the Maryland Wind Energy Area, which covers about 94 square nautical miles of ocean beginning roughly 11 miles off the shores of Ocean City. According to analysis prepared by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if fully developed, the Maryland Wind Energy Area could support between 800 and 1200 megawatts of commercial wind generation, enough electricity to power 300,000 homes.
“The Maryland Climate Coalition urges state leaders not to fall into the trap of other states, like New Jersey, whose wind energy programs have lagged,” said Joanna Diamond, Executive Director of Environment Maryland. “A strong commitment by state leaders is needed to keep momentum steady and ensure this is a robust auction that results in swift movement towards actual construction of turbines. Maryland must lead our country in creating a clean energy future powered by American workers that can protect our communities from the dangers of climate change.”
Catching the Wind highlights key progress made to date along the coast, finding a strong correlation between proactive state efforts and tangible steps forward in advancing offshore wind power.
The report challenges Maryland leaders to move forward with the following key actions to bring transformational offshore wind power online:
1. Ensure that Maryland’s bold commitment to offshore wind and other renewable energy sources continues to be a dominant feature of the state’s energy plans.
2. Take action to ensure a competitive market for offshore wind power by passing and implementing policies to directly advance offshore wind power and reduce pollution across the electricity sector, pursuing regional market-building opportunities, and supporting key federal incentives.
3. Advance critical contracts for offshore wind projects, including facilitating and approving necessary power purchase contracts and rate recovery proposals and pursuing regional procurement opportunities.
4. Ensure an efficient, environmentally responsible leasing process, working closely with the federal government and key experts and stakeholders to ensure transparency and strong protections for coastal and marine wildlife as offshore wind development moves forward.
5. Invest in key research, initiatives, and infrastructure helpful for advancing offshore wind development including baseline environmental data, stakeholder engagement initiatives, opportunities to maximize local supply chain and job creation, and upgrades to transmission or port facilities.
“The Atlantic Ocean is a clean energy, job-producing goldmine and this auction represents a critical moment for state leaders,” said Jen Mihills, Associate Director of the National Wildlife Federation Mid-Atlantic Regional Center in Annapolis. “We urge Maryland leaders to seize this golden opportunity and move this process forward in the most efficient and environmentally responsible manner. With miles upon miles of shoreline, Maryland is particularly vulnerable to the dangers of climate change, so there is no time to waste.”
The Maryland Climate Coalition, composed of environmental, health, faith, and business groups has called on state lawmakers to double Maryland’s clean energy requirement from its current level of 20% by 2022 to 40% by 2025. Growing Maryland’s investment in renewable energy, including Atlantic offshore wind, will have an overwhelming net positive impact for Marylanders’ health, environment and economy.