14 Feb 2011 10:02:31
O'Malley gears up for energy act
Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley has introduced the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2011 in order to boost offshore wind development.
The bill will require public utilities to leverage Maryland's offshore wind resources by entering into long-term purchase agreements with wind power generation facilities off of the Mid-Atlantic coast. The bill was scheduled to be submitted before the General Assembly on Friday.
Such agreements, according to O'Malley, will shift the focus from short-term profit to Maryland's long-term energy security. The Act requires a long-term contract, which is expected to enhance the stability of Maryland energy prices and provide a reliable hedge against volatile fossil fuel prices.
While offshore wind capital costs are high compared to traditional fossil fuel generation, the fuel cost is zero, rendering the operational costs highly competitive. Using the Delaware offshore wind contract as a model, the initial rate impact for a 500 MW project is expected to be approximately US$1.44 on residential monthly bills in 2016.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2011 requires development of 400–600 MW of offshore wind capacity, approximately 10 nautical miles off of Maryland's coast. This would require the installation of between 80 and 200 wind turbines, depending on project scope and turbine capacity.
The Maryland/Federal Offshore Wind Task Force recommended a 207-square nautical mile (nm) area beginning 10nm East of the Maryland's Atlantic Coast. This area falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Interior.