Senate passes bill for offshore wind project
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A measure to help develop a wind project off the coast of Ocean City by requiring electricity suppliers to buy offshore renewable energy credits passed the Maryland Senate on Friday.
The measure that passed 30-15 has been a priority for Gov. Martin O'Malley, who pushed unsuccessfully for the bill for two years before finally finding success with a scaled-back proposal. The bill was already passed this session by the House of Delegates, which will only have to sign off on several small changes the Senate made before sending it off to O'Malley to sign.
The Democratic governor has noted challenges clearly remain to get the project off the ground. Still, he has expressed confidence the measure will put Maryland on track to partner with neighboring states to lead an offshore wind project off the East Coast.
"It's an affirmative step by the Legislature, so it allows us to go out and look for the art of the deal that will get these things built," O'Malley said in a brief interview after the Senate vote.
All the supporting votes came from Democrats. Three Democrats joined 12 Republicans in opposing the bill.
Environmental groups cheered the vote. Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, described it as a significant victory for clean energy.
"This bill is to offshore wind power in the Mid-Atlantic what the early railroads were to American transportation," Tidwell said in a statement. "It's a driver of innovation that will create jobs, enhance our economy, improve public health and protect the climate."
The proposal, which will take years to develop, would increase monthly electricity bills for ratepayers by an estimated $1.50 a month. Commercial ratepayers could see increases of up to 1.5 percent.