Library filed under Offshore Wind from Maryland
In May, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved electricity-rate increases to fund two wind projects off the Ocean City shoreline. Over their 20-year life spans, these projects will cost Maryland electricity consumers more than $2 billion. Will they deliver economic benefits that justify their costs? Almost certainly not.
The developers of two wind farms planned off the coast of Ocean City are moving forward with their projects, accepting terms Maryland regulators laid out earlier this month in allowing them to collect subsidies from the state's electricity customers.
“Think about what 200 windmills would do to the sunrise,” James said to Harris on May 11. “People come here to enjoy that. They’ll be walking on the beach, seeing these things that are 670 feet tall. They say we’ll benefit from this, but it’s Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey beaches that’s going to benefit.”
The PSC decision comes just a week after the Mayor and Council fired off another strongly worded letter to the regulatory agency expressing a desire to have the offshore turbines sited at least 26 miles off the coast, or a distance determined to far enough out to have a zero visual impact from the shoreline.
Maryland waters could be home to some of the nation's first — and by far its largest — offshore wind farms under a decision issued Thursday by the state Public Service Commission to approve two projects.
“US Wind understands the council’s opinions regarding viewshed impacts of the offshore wind project and has taken these publicly expressed concerns seriously,” the letter reads. “To further address your concerns, US Wind remains willing to discuss altering the current wind project layout in an attempt to reduce viewshed impacts for Ocean City."
This is a photosimulation of U.S. Wind's proposed offshore wind facility to be sited 12-miles off the coast of Maryland. U.S. Wind secured the lease rights to two locations off the coast of Ocean City. In total the company is seeking permission to erect up to 187 turbines (750 MW) within an 80,000-acre area.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan says he may have underestimated how big a "thumbnail" would be when it comes to gauging the visual impact of a proposed wind project off the coast. "They always talked about thumbnails," Meehan said. "Well, they're a little bigger than a thumbnail."
The Maryland Public Service Commission will begin what could be two weeks of hearings on proposals from two developers to build wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean off Maryland. The two developers are competing for up to $1.9 billion in subsidies over 20 years, paid for by the state’s electricity ratepayers, a crucial financing mechanism for developers to recoup the cost of building the massive wind farms.
The commission said it had opened its formal review of proposals from US Wind Inc., a subsidiary of Italian energy and construction giant Toto Holdings SpA, and Skipjack Offshore Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Deepwater Wind Holdings LLC. Approval from the commission is necessary for either project to secure offshore renewable energy credits.
After weeks of surveying the offshore area and mapping the sea floor, followed by months of interpreting data and polishing a formal report on the project, Paul Rich, director of project development at U.S. Wind, reports the Shearwater survey vessel didn’t find much of anything on the leased site of a proposed wind farm off the coast of Ocean City.
Other wind projects have been proposed along the Atlantic coast in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Delaware, but all have been slowed or stalled by regulatory, political and financial challenges. ...Nevertheless, US Wind is "very bullish" on the prospects for offshore wind in the United States.
Virginia company earlier won auction for project off the coast of its home state
Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill promoting offshore wind farms is moving through the state Senate ...Republicans also got the floor leader for the bill, Sen. Thomas Middleton, D-Charles, to concede that offshore wind power is the most expensive form of renewable energy.
Gov. Martin O'Malley's Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 passed in the House of Delegates by a 86-48 vote on Friday, much to the chagrin of some Eastern Shore delegation members. The bill proposes to build an offshore wind energy facility at least 10 miles off the coast of Ocean City.
Maryland's bid to become the first state to build an offshore wind farm took a step forward this week when the House of Delegates approved a wind energy infrastructure bill.
The measure sidestepped eight amendments proposed by House Republicans, aiming to restrict the project's cost on the state and taxpayers. Republican Delegate Patrick McDonough of Baltimore and Harford counties noted that the offshore wind bill, if successful, would fail to meet the state's energy needs.
Jeff Zellmer of the Maryland Retailers Association told committee members the measure would cost jobs, not create them. The bill would limit rate increases for residential customers to $1.50 a month and businesses to 1.5 percent. However, Zellmer said supermarkets operate on a 2 percent profit margin and electricity is the second-largest cost for grocery chains.
Offshore wind has been a harder sell. Installing turbines that can withstand harsh maritime environments is more costly than planting them in the middle of a field, said Chris Long, manager of offshore wind and siting policy for AWEA, a Washington-based trade group whose members include General Electric Co. and the U.S. unit of Spain’s Iberdrola SA.
Backers of offshore development point out that the winds off Maryland's coast are strong, a nearby energy resource that the state should exploit. But if the most efficient way to meet the mandate is to build offshore wind farms, then offshore wind farms will prosper under existing policy. If it's not, then they should not be built.