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Maryland makes a play for the offshore wind crown

13 May 2017

The Commission attached almost 30 conditions to the approval, including requirements that the developers create a minimum of 4,977 direct jobs during the development, construction and operating phases of the projects; pass 80 per cent of any construction costs savings to ratepayers; and contribute US$ 6 million each to the Maryland Offshore Wind Business Development Fund. It is expected to go online in January 2020.

David Smedick, a policy expert with the Sierra Club, called the decision on Thursday a "monumental win for the economy and the environment in Maryland".

The partnership of the two companies is expected to bring extensive wind expertise and substantial financial firepower to the Commonwealth's initiative to build offshore wind projects in MA.

The MPSC says the decision will enable U.S. Wind, Inc. and Skipjack Offshore Energy, LLC to construct 368 megawatts of capacity, together yielding over $1.8 billion of in-state spending, spurring the creation of nearly 9,700 new direct and indirect jobs and contributing $74 million in state tax revenues over 20 years. They are expected to cost residential ratepayers less than $1.40 per month while increasing the electricity bills of commercial and industrial customers by less than 1.4 percent a year, according to the commission.

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The wind farm, dubbed as the Gemini Offshore Wind Park, boasts 150 turbines located 85 kilometers north of the Groningen coast.

"The approval today of the first large-scale offshore wind projects in the United States brings to fruition the general assembly's efforts to establish Maryland as a regional hub for this burgeoning industry", said W Kevin Hughes, commission chairman.

As a result the commission said it was placing the turbines the furthest out from the shoreline as possible. "Why would we want to have risk of deteriorating the most valuable and income-producing real estate in Worcester County?"

In making its decision the commission did note the concerns of Ocean City officials about the impact on the sight of the turbine from the resort.

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As proposed, the U.S. Wind offshore wind farm would cost about $1.375 billion to develop with 62 turbines about 12 to 15 miles off the Maryland coast.

"It's going to cement Maryland as the epicenter of the offshore wind industry for decades to come", he said.

The two facilities are expected to reduce carbon emissions by a minimum of 19,000t each year for 20 years, helping Maryland reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network estimates that the reduction is equal to taking 3,600 cars off the road each year.

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Maryland makes a play for the offshore wind crown