ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O'Malley's mission to make Maryland a leader in offshore wind development took a positive step Wednesday when the House of Delegates approved a bill on the energy source.
The bill would create the infrastructure for an offshore wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean. There are currently no offshore wind farms in the U.S., although several are in development in states such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware.
The bill, which is expected to pass this year after two failed attempts, could receive final approval in the House by the end of the week.
The proposal, which would take years to develop, would also potentially increase monthly electricity bills for ratepayers by up to $1.50 a month. Businesses could see increases of up to 1.5 percent. However, ratepayers would not begin paying more until electricity is produced, which likely wouldn't be until 2017 at the earliest. The bill also requires utilities to buy offshore renewable energy credits.
If passed, about 40 turbines would be built off the coast of Ocean City.
"We have goals for 2020 to have 20 percent of our energy coming from renewable sources," said Delegate Dereck Davis, chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee. "Offshore wind represents the best opportunity to be able to meet those goals with in-state resources."
The measure sidestepped eight amendments proposed by House Republicans, aiming to restrict the project's cost on the state and taxpayers.