OCEAN CITY, Md. – The governors of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday promising to work together in the pursuit of growing the offshore wind industry off the coast of their three states.
The memorandum of understanding calls for the creation of a joint partnership called the Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources (SMART-POWER), according to a copy of the agreement.
That partnership will include a new leadership team made up of representatives from each of the three states to coordinate efforts, according to the agreement.
Each state promises to work more closely with one another to rapidly develop offshore wind energy projects off the coast of each state, according to the agreement.
The agreement calls for a reduction in administrative “burdens” for the offshore wind industry, streamlining regulations, greater sharing of information between the parties and more joint communication between the three states and federal regulators, according to the agreement.
The partnership also seeks to “Promote the Mid-Atlantic and southeast United States as an offshore wind energy and industry hub.”
Three wind turbines from the Deepwater Wind project stand off Block Island, Rhode Island. So far, it’s the nation’s only offshore wind farm.
Maryland has led the way in providing “real, bipartisan, common sense solutions” when it comes to dealing with the environment, said Gov. Larry Hogan in a joint statement with Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia and Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina.
“Joining this multi-state partnership to expand offshore wind development will further our strong record of supporting responsible energy projects that provide jobs, clean air benefits and energy independence,” Hogan said.
The agreement between the three states will help Virginia continue on its path toward 100% clean energy by 2050, and also provide “tremendous” economic and environmental benefits to the state, Northam said.
The partnership will allow North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland to leverage their resources to work together on a common goal, Cooper said.
“Offshore wind development combined with our strong solar capacity will bring more high paying, clean energy jobs to North Carolina while we continue to ramp up our fight against climate change,” Cooper said.
All three governors said the partnership will allow their three states to better capitalize on the growing offshore wind industry, according to the joint statement.
The United States Department of Energy estimates the coast of the Atlantic Ocean can support upwards of 86,000 jobs, $57 billion in investments and $25 billion in economic output by 2030, according to the joint statement.
Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina are all currently in the process of building offshore wind farms.
Maryland currently has two projects in the planning and regulatory review stages. The Skipjack Wind Farm Project, being built by Ørsted, will be located more than 20 miles off the coast of Ocean City and the Delaware beaches.
In August Ørsted received approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission to use General Electric’s 12-megawatt Haliade-X wind turbine.
The turbine selection settled a year-long disagreement between the wind energy company, Ocean City and state officials, and will allow the project to continue through the federal regulatory review.
Federal officials are also reviewing plans for the MarWin Wind Farm project, which is being built by U.S. Wind. The MarWin project will sit roughly 17 miles directly off the coast of Ocean City.
Both projects have been met with staunch disapproval by Ocean City officials and residents, but both U.S. Wind and Ørsted say their wind farms will be operational sometime after 2023.
Virginia has already completed construction of a 12-megawatt wind farm off its coast, but the state is looking to scale up its use of offshore wind in the coming years, Northam said.
Virginia and Dominion Energy are using the 12-megawatt wind farm as a test run as both entities plan for “large-scale commercial wind deployment” in the adjacent Virginia Wind Energy Area, which rests 27 miles off the coast, according to Dominion Energy.
North Carolina, like Maryland, already has its large-scale wind energy project in the planning stages.
Avangrid Renewables is planning to build a 2,500 megawatt wind farm approximately 27 miles off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, according to the wind developer. The project will be called Kitty Hawk Offshore, and will sit in an approximately 200-square mile offshore wind energy area, which was acquired from the federal government in 2017.
The memorandum of understanding isn’t a legal contract and each of the three states can leave the agreement, according to the agreement.
Other Mid-Atlantic or southeastern states can join the partnership in the future, as long as all states in the agreement approve, according to the agreement.
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