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Betting big on offshore wind could reduce the cost of electricity in Maryland, environmentalists say

Three of the five turbines of America’s first offshore wind farm, owned by the Danish company, Orsted, are seen from a tour boat off the coast of Block Island, R.I., Monday, Oct. 17, 2022.

Posted on December 13, 2022

Environmental activists pushing for more development of offshore wind turbines in the Atlantic ocean released a report exploring potential economic windfalls for electric consumers in Maryland. The new report estimates that if regulators approve 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects, three times as much that’s already permitted, electric consumers may see a smaller bill. That calculation is based on what’s known as the standard offer service rate, which is how much electric utility companies charge, but does not include extra fees or other considerations.

New Jersey-based energy consulting firm Gable Associates, estimates that by 2031 if Maryland bets big on offshore wind the price for standard offer service could drop from 8 cents per kilowatt to 4 cents per kilowatt.

The type of electricity generation that costs 8 cents per kilowatt is a mix of fossil fuels and nuclear power. The largest net electricity generation in Maryland by source is natural gas-fired power plants, as of August 2022, according the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The second most common source is nuclear power, followed by non-hydroelectric renewable energy, federal data shows. 

Isaac Gabel-Frank, a vice president of the firm and the lead author of the study, said there would be other benefits from reducing pollution as offshore wind could replace fossil fuel burning electricity generators.

“There’s a lot of air pollution avoided,” he said. “When quantified in a monetary way, it could be $24 billion over the [30-year] period of offshore wind.”

The Gable Associates report was released by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, an environmental advocacy nonprofit. It was funded by The Clayton Baker Foundation and the Abell Foundation.

While the report’s findings rely on the estimate of 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind being pumped into the electric grid, the Maryland Public Service Commission has approved permits for roughly 2,000 megawatts.

Read more (and listen) at WYPR.


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