September 19, 2010

Meeting to focus on offshore wind farm

By Laura Dignan, Staff Writer, The Daily Times, 19 September 2010

OCEAN CITY – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is scheduled to meet with environmentalists and concerned residents Thursday to discuss the possible construction of a wind farm off Maryland’s coast.

Catherine McCall, section chief for planning and technical services at DNR, said the Maryland Energy Administration released a plan in March to increase the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard by 20 percent.

“The state has to meet a certain percentage of its power goals by 2022,” she said. “If (the state) took all of its land space sources that currently existed, it wouldn’t meet that goal, so offshore wind was identified as a potential source of alternative energy.”

Tom Carlson, Maryland campaign director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network – a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting global warming – said the meeting aims to provide attendees with as much information as possible about offshore wind power and the benefits it could bring to Ocean City and other Maryland towns.

The meeting will consist of informational displays, presentations from DNR, MEA and Bluewater Wind representatives and a question-and-answer session.

“DNR has already done a lot of work in terms of mapping out Maryland’s coast and where the best resources are for offshore wind,” said Alana Wase, conservation program coordinator for the Maryland Sierra Club, a grass-roots environmental organization.

Wase said preliminary numbers show 300 wind turbines could be placed about 12 miles offshore. The project has the potential to power 65,000 homes.

According to McCall, a project of this caliber takes at least five years to complete. The cost has not yet been determined, she said.

“Maryland is trying to be proactive and start the process early,” she said. “We have already started, so the clock is ticking.”

Carlson said the turbines could potentially supply one-third of Maryland’s electricity.

“The fuel for offshore wind is free,” he said. “It allows the state to lock in stable energy prices because we’ve seen incredible price hikes for energy over the last decade. Offshore wind is a good way to offer price protection.”

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