During what has become dubbed as “Wind Week” environmental advocates, business leaders, and local stakeholders up and down the Atlantic coast have joined in the release of a new offshore wind report and to call on leaders at both the state and federal level to ensure our swift transition to clean, renewable energy.
Maryland has immense untapped offshore wind energy resources, and the new report “The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy: Time for Action to Create Jobs, Protect Wildlife, & Secure America’s Energy Future”, written by the National Wildlife Federation and released today in Annapolis with Environment Maryland, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, identifies key building blocks that local, state, and federal officials have put in place to usher in a future with offshore wind.
“In the race up and down the Atlantic to have the first offshore wind project, Maryland could make history,” said Tommy Landers, director of Environment Maryland. “To get us over the finish line so we can start producing pollution-free energy and creating local jobs from offshore wind development, our leaders must act now, first by demanding that Congress extend the offshore wind tax credit before it expires at the end of the year, and pass a strong offshore wind bill in Annapolis.”
Offshore wind energy can and must be developed in a wildlife-friendly manner. Not only do scientific studies show that properly locating turbines and requiring best management practices can minimize impacts on birds, bats, sea turtles and marine mammals, but transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy benefits all wildlife from cleaner air and water and cutting the carbon pollution that causes climate change.
“America’s Atlantic coast has some of the best offshore wind energy resources in the world, the technology to harvest it is ready right now, and we have workers ready to do the job,” said Justin Allegro, National Wildlife Federation’s Renewable Energy and Wildlife Program Manager. “We need to take advantage of this golden opportunity to make our electricity supply cleaner, more wildlife-friendly, and more secure.”
The Atlantic coast is an ideal location for offshore wind energy because of its high electricity demand and population density along the coast. Offshore wind will be an economic powerhouse for Maryland. A report prepared by the University of Delaware found that Maryland could install 14,625 MW of offshore wind energy using current technology —– enough power to satisfy 67% of Maryland’s current energy needs —– while bringing manufacturing jobs to the state and stimulate the economy.
“As states along the East Coast move forward toward offshore wind development, the time is now for Maryland leaders to put our businesses at the forefront of the industry,” said Vernon Wade, Green Technology Chair of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce. “Business across the state, including many minority businesses, are poised to participate in the vast supply chain opportunities.”
Offshore wind can help Maryland meet its energy needs without creating more pollution. “Offshore wind power is the state’s most abundant homegrown energy source and will help us satisfy the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires 20% of the state’s electricity be generated by renewable sources by 2022,” said Fred Hoover, Director of Clean Energy for the Maryland Energy Administration.
Maryland’s leaders have been laying the groundwork to ramp up offshore wind. The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012 which would encourage the development of 200 MW of offshore wind energy off the Eastern Shore, passed the House of Delegates 88 to 47, but did not come to a vote in the Senate. Stakeholders are committed to securing passage of offshore wind legislation during the 2013 legislative session.
“Offshore wind is a tremendous opportunity for us to reduce pollution. We need to pass a bill in 2013 that will set us up to build offshore wind turbines off our shores. It’s about being ready and having everything in place so we can act,” said Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton (District 28), Chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee.
The broad base of support for offshore wind continues to grow across Maryland and along the entire Atlantic coast. In late July more than two-hundred environmental organizations, businesses, and local and state officials from up and down the Atlantic coast wrote a letter to federal officials calling for bold action to accelerate the development of offshore wind.
The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy: Time for Action to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, Protect Wildlife & Secure America’s Energy Future is available online at: www.nwf.org/offshorewind
The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.
Environment Maryland is a state-based environmental advocacy organization working to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and wind real results for our environment.