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Maryland lawmakers, Gov. Moore set goal to quadruple offshore wind power

Posted on April 11, 2023

Maryland leaders are making a big commitment to offshore windmills in an effort to reach state goals increasing the use of renewable energy sources and making the state a leader in the wind energy industry.

Both Gov. Wes Moore and the General Assembly are pushing those efforts, with Moore reaffirming the state’s effort to reach 100% of energy supplied by renewable sources by 2035 last month at the International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum.

A key part of this development involves increasing the amount of energy produced by offshore wind in the state to 8.5 gigawatts from the roughly two gigawatts under construction. A single gigawatt can power 750,000 homes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The comprehensive four-part bill, one of the last agreements lawmakers struck on Monday, would establish a non-binding state goal of 8.5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2031. The bill has cleared both chambers and is on its way to Moore’s desk despite opposition from Eastern Shore communities, who are worried about the impact on Ocean City tourism and marine wildlife.

That number, the goal of 8.5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2031, is extremely vital, according to Jamie DeMarco of the Chesapeake Climate Network.

The Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management uses these goals to determine how many lease areas will be granted to the state. Leases are granted for 30 years; those within the industry expect Central Atlantic region decisions sometime in late 2023 or early in 2024.

Communicating how much offshore wind power Maryland intends to build could set the tone for the future of the industry.

A second facet of the bill involves transmission, or the process of transporting the power produced by wind turbines to the land.

Currently, two different companies — Baltimore-based U.S. Wind and the Danish company Ørsted — are working in Maryland. Each company is developing its own project and an accompanying transmission line. When future projects are built, each will also require a transmission line.

But, DeMarco says, having each turbine run its own line back to the shore is an expensive and inefficient way to operate. The goal here is to create the equivalent of a giant power strip to which all future transmission lines can connect.

To achieve this, the Public Service Commission would coordinate with the state’s regional transmission grid to solicit proposals for building the transmission line. Developers could then bid to build the line, the state would pick a winner that fit its list of criteria, and they would collaborate to actually build it. The result would be a shared transmission line, owned and operated by a private entity, that could support future offshore wind infrastructure.


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