The coast of Maryland may sport some new assets soon, as evaluations for offshore windmills begin to be accepted.
Karla Raettig of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters said the move to begin evaluations was the final step towards construction of the windmills, according to a press release from the Maryland Public Service Commission,
“Maryland is excited to utilize this tremendous clean energy and become a leader with this new U.S. industry,” Raettig said.
The Maryland Offshore Energy Wind Act, passed in 2013, opened up doors for the new renewable energy marketplace, including opportunities for small businesses to participate.
Josh Berman of the Sierra Club said the new market will bring an economic boom to coastal Maryland.
““The wind blowing off the Atlantic coast is a tremendous untapped clean energy source that will create thousands of local jobs and help stabilize electric rates throughout the state,” Berman said, in a release.
According to a study by Synapse Energy Economics, the potential economic impact could be quite large. Economic benefits for a 200-megawatt wind plant could hit $75 million annually, while a 1,000-megawatt plant, the largest proposed, could provide $240 million total.
While the prospect of off-shore wind farms, not only on the eastern shore but nationally, have floated around for decades, the plans, until recently, have mostly fluttered away in the breeze. In July 2015, Block Island, a tourist destination in Rhode Island, began construction on what would become the first off-shore wind farm in the United States.
Maryland may be next to follow suit. Applications for projects opened on Feb. 25 and closed on Nov. 18. The applications now enter a 180-day evaluation, which will check to see which projects fit the legislative criteria outlined in the Offshore Energy Wind Act. These include having long-term price stability, benefits for the environment and public health and providing the lowest price, or not exceeding $1.50 per month in cost.
Should an application is found to meet the criteria and approved, construction of the windmills could begin in 2019, with the plants up and running by 2020, according to the Public Service Commission.
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