O'Malley: Wind project will produce affordable, clean energy

March 31, 2011

We all can agree that Maryland needs clean, new electricity plants to fuel a growing economy and replace dirty coal-fired generators. And we can all agree that the current de-regulated energy market has failed to produce this much-needed new generation.

That is why I have proposed the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act — to advance a safe, reliable, clean energy source that will help secure our energy future, create thousands of jobs and protect Maryland ratepayers over the long-term.

Offshore wind is a win-win for the state. The economic benefits will be felt on the Eastern Shore and throughout Maryland. The turbines will be assembled locally and installed off the coast of Ocean City. And many of the 8,000 component parts will be manufactured right here in Maryland.

All told, our experts project that the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act will have a total economic impact on Maryland of $1.9 billion. It will create 2,000 manufacturing and construction jobs and 400 permanent positions after construction is complete.

This also will have an impact on our competitive position in the new economy. In the competition among states for jobs and opportunity, the states that win will be the states that succeed in leveraging and advancing innovation for job creation and economic growth. By creating green jobs and making this investment in the emerging green-tech sector of our economy, together we can position our state as a national leader in wind technology.

I realize many, including The Sun's Jay Hancock, have raised concerns about the cost of the project ("Stop O'Malley's offshore wind folly now, not later," March 27). It is important to remember that the price of electricity from wind will not fluctuate. When the Public Service Commission approves the contract, we will know how much we will be paying for 2.5 percent of our State's energy load for the next 20-25 years, a claim we can't make about the other 97.5 percent of our energy needs.

The Offshore Wind Energy Act also builds-in safeguards for ratepayers to ensure that citizens are protected against unreasonable prices. First, the PSC would be required to kick out any proposal that is projected to cost the average residential ratepayer more than $2 per month. In addition, the PSC would conduct a competitive process that ensures that the state gets the best possible price and that prices are comparable to other offshore wind projects of similar size.

As we work to secure America's and Maryland's energy future, we cannot sit idly by and let other states win the offshore wind race. Thousands of green manufacturing, assembly and servicing jobs, millions of dollars in research and development, and innumerable tax revenue will go to the states that create the policies necessary to foster offshore wind. Maryland will be one of those states.

Martin O'Malley, Annapolis

The writer, a Democrat, is Maryland's governor.

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