ANNAPOLIS – State officials are moving forward on plans to conduct a survey off the coast of Ocean City related to developing offshore wind.
The Board of Public Works approved the $3.3 million contract Jan. 2 with Coastal Planning & Engineering Inc. for a high-resolution geophysical survey.
The money for the contract will come from about $30 million the state of Maryland received in a settlement agreement with Exelon Corp. last year in its bid to takeover Baltimore’s Constellation Energy.
Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposals to develop offshore wind have stalled in the last two regular sessions of the Maryland General Assembly. A scaled-back version passed the House of Delegates last year, but did not clear the state Senate. O’Malley is expected to try again this year.
“This isn’t something just to talk about anymore. This is happening. This is going to become a reality,” said State Sen. Jim Mathias, D-38-Worcester, who was a co-sponsor on similar bills in past years in support of offshore wind projects.
Mathias, who also supports other green power-generating efforts, such as onshore wind and solar power, said he wants to ensure that putting giant wind turbines off the coastline of the seaside resort town make sense for everyone.
“We have to look at the coastal issues for Ocean City and Worcester County and certainly Assateague,” he said. “I’m a big believer in renewable, but we need to see how it call comes home to roost, especially in the farming community. We’re going to watch it closely.”
The U.S. Department of the Interior in February 2012 said federal impact studies show areas of the mid-Atlantic coast, where offshore wind turbines would have no significant environmental impact.
Plans for a large-scale wind farm off Maryland’s 17 miles of coastline have been discussed often in recent years.
A 2009 report by Environment Maryland said wind turbines dotting the mid-Atlantic coast could supply a third of the region’s annual electricity needs, help stabilize electricity prices and reduce the need for transmission lines.
Offshore wind could help to reduce global warming pollution, stabilize electricity prices and help boost our economy, the group said.
Locally, wind farm proponents say the turbines will be nearly invisible at a distance, even on a clear day. Those opposing the project, many of whom still agree that wind power is needed, voice their displeasure with seeing anything mar the horizon.
Offshore wind developer Bluewater Wind for several years has planned for a project that would install 200 wind turbines about 12 miles off the Maryland coastline that would provide electricity for about 135,000 homes in Maryland. The turbine towers each would be about 25 stories tall.
So far, there’s been no movement on that project of late. Project spokesman Dave Blazer did not return a call for comment.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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