Maryland Offshore Wind Auction Announced

Maryland is well on its way to bringing offshore wind to the Free State. For nearly 3 years, the National Wildlife Federation has partnered with local conservation, faith, and civic organizations through the Maryland Climate Coalition striving to build momentum and support for the rapid, responsible development of our offshore wind energy resources.  On April 9, 2013 – Governor O’Malley signed the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 into law.  And yesterday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a Proposed Sale Notice for the Maryland Wind Energy Area (WEA).

With more than 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline and the majestic Chesapeake Bay mostly within its borders, the livelihood and lifestyles of Marylanders are intrinsically connected to the health of the state’s environment. In spite of this connection, Maryland overwhelmingly relies upon the planet’s dirtiest fossil fuel, coal, to meet its electricity needs. Nearly 60 percent of Maryland’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, much of which is imported from out of state.

Offshore Wind is Blowing into Maryland

Still, Maryland has clearly displayed its commitment to improving its energy choices. Maryland has set a Renewable Portfolio Standard, pledging that 20 percent of the state’s electricity needs will be met by renewable energy sources, including wind and solar power, by year 2022. Offshore wind is vital to Maryland meeting this ambitious goal.

Offshore wind turbines located near Denmark. Flickr photo by Kim Hansen.
Offshore wind turbines located near Denmark. Flickr photo by Kim Hansen.
A moderate sized offshore wind park could bring 1,550 jobs to the state and there are more than 1,000 Maryland businesses that have the potential to provide component parts or services to support a new, homegrown offshore wind energy industry. Because the fuel is free, offshore wind offers the ability to lock-in long-term (25 years or more) energy costs without the threat of rising fossil fuel prices.  As offshore wind power will always be available to us, we’ll be creating jobs and locking in more and more energy at stable prices for years to come.  By moving forward as one of the first states in this industry, Maryland can establish itself as an industry hub for offshore wind in the United States.

These auctions are the products of persistent leadership by the Department of Interior, BOEM, and state officials, who recognize the great value of offshore wind power. America’s Atlantic Coast has some of the best and most plentiful wind in the world.  In fact, the wind blowing off Maryland’s Atlantic coast is a vast, untapped energy source and offshore wind has the power to provide clean energy, to create long-term jobs, promote clean air and clean water, and protect wildlife and future generations from the dangerous impacts of climate change and produce the equivalent of two thirds of Maryland’s current electricity needs.

We have 30 days to contact BOEM as they prepare a Final Sale Notice that will provide the final details of the lease sale for the Maryland WEA – submit your comments here. Now is the time to speak up and voice your support for responsibly-sited offshore wind power off Maryland’s coast!

About the author

larissa_johnsonLarissa Johnson is the Coordinator for the Maryland Climate Coalition, a coalition of Maryland environmental, faith, business, and other community groups who have joined together to unite Marylanders to mitigate climate change to protect our environment, health, and economy. In April of this year, the Coalition had a major win when the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act was passed into law, now offshore wind energy is coming to Maryland.