Maryland’s Offshore wind’s future remains uncertain despite expected passage of bill

Source: E&E • Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is positioned to see his plan to build offshore wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean win approval from state lawmakers.

But the small-scale project — O’Malley’s third attempt to pass offshore wind legislation — will be able to generate only half the energy of a power plant and has developers casting doubts on the future of the project. Developers say they may not be able to acquire needed financing for the costly project after the legislative process resulted in a reduced project size and a scaled-back subsidy from Maryland households.

Virginia and several other states have been in similar situations with stalled projects due to bureaucratic, financial and legal hurdles.

At least six wind farms have been proposed in the Atlantic, but not a single one has been built.

In the United States, offshore wind energy has garnered widespread support among environmentalists and others, who cite it as a sustainable alternative to coal and gas. But it has shown to be difficult to get the young wind industry up and going.

To win support from some lawmakers, O’Malley has accepted a financing model involving renewable energy credits. To gain the support of others, he has restricted the cost of the subsidy to about $1.50 a month per household, which would amount to $2.5 billion over 20 years (Aaron Davis, Washington Post, Feb. 4). — KJ