In testimony before Senate Finance Committee and House Economic Matters Committee of the Maryland General Assembly, US Wind Country Manager Salvo Vitale urged House and Senate committee members to support HB 1158 and its Senate companion, SB 516 - The Clean Jobs Act of 2019 - citing the significant economic benefits that the legislation would make possible by incentivizing the development of 1,200 MegaWatts of additional offshore wind energy off the coast of Maryland.
"This transformational legislation would serve to reassert Maryland's leadership position in the fast-developing offshore wind energy sector underway in the United States, creating an additional 5,000-7,000 direct jobs; an additional $18 million to be deposited in the Offshore Wind Business Development Fund; approximately $5 billion in new capital expenditures; and thousands of tons more of carbon emissions reduced or avoided altogether," said Mr. Vitale. "With only 358 megawatts currently available for development here in our state (which amounts to 0.358 gigawatts), and no further incentive to develop more, Maryland risks ceding its leadership position as other states along the eastern seaboard move aggressively to increase the proportion that offshore wind energy accounts for in their own state renewable energy goals."
A wide variety of economic incentives have recently been made available to offshore wind developers as New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, along with other states, move to incentivize nearly 20 gigawatts of offshore wind energy development.
Mr. Vitale cited the number of supply chain companies of all sizes seeking to locate new facilities throughout the East Coast in order to meet the growing needs of a burgeoning energy sector. These include turbine and cable manufacturing, steel fabricators, and marine construction companies, among others. "Without question, the primary driver for these supply companies is the offshore wind development capacity, and it all comes down to the question of how many mega- or gigawatts can they rely on. Right now, the answer is clear, and Maryland is falling behind," said Mr. Vitale.
Mr. Vitale further noted that Maryland was the forerunner in offshore wind development with the passage of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013. US Wind was successful in securing the federal lease to develop a total of 1,000 Megawatts of offshore wind energy through a competitive bid process. In May, 2017, US Wind's project was approved to receive offshore renewable energy credits (ORECs) for an initial phase, involving the placement of approximately 32 wind turbines in federal water off the coast of Maryland (as far east in its federally-designated wind energy area as possible). The MarWin project, as it's known, will generate approximately 270 Megawatt (MW) of energy, enough to power more than 76,000 homes each and every day of the year. During this Construction phase, approximately 1,298 direct jobs will be created, generating over $370 million in economic development activity in Baltimore City and Baltimore County alone.
During the Operation and Maintenance phase, expected to last 20 to 25 years, it is estimated by the independent third-party management consulting firm hired by the Maryland Public Service Commission that US Wind's project will result in nearly $850 million of in-state economic impact, and the creation of 4,116 Full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs. Mr. Vitale concluded: "The time has come for Maryland to again act boldly. We can still capture large sectors of the offshore wind industry. Our world-class assets, expansive port infrastructure, skilled workforce - and the potential to develop an even larger skilled workforce, in addition to top research and development universities. Hopefully, Maryland will once again take the lead."
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