ANNAPOLIS – The Board of Public Works on Wednesday unanimously approved a contract that will allow the state to survey land ten miles off the coast of Ocean City for use as an offshore wind farm.
St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Coastal Planning & Engineering Inc. will “conduct a high-resolution geophysical survey” of the area designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as the area where energy-producing wind turbines could be built, according to the state spending panel’s agenda.
The $3.3 million award authorizes Coastal Planning & Engineering to conduct the survey and provide the state with data that it will in turn give to a future developer. The data will help that developer speed construction and operation of the wind farm, said Abigail R. Hopper, acting director of the Maryland Energy Administration.
Comptroller Peter Franchot showed some concern that the state was conducting the survey for that future developer, but Hopper said companies might be reluctant to apply to develop Maryland’s offshore wind farm without some investment by the state.
Hopper said nine companies have interest in developing an offshore wind farm in Maryland waters. An application should be ready in the first quarter of 2013, and the land could be leased this summer.
Legislation pushed by Gov. Martin O’Malley last year that would have guaranteed wind energy developers a market passed in the House of Delegates but did failed to come to a vote in the Senate. O’Malley intends to introduce a similar bill in the upcoming General Assembly.
One major hurdle for the industry was cleared late New Year’s Day, when Congress included an extension of tax credits for wind energy production and investment in its far-reaching “fiscal cliff” agreement that also prevented broad federal tax increases and spending cuts.
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