Are we there yet?The state of Maryland has been pushing for at least 3 years to build a 200-megawatt offshore wind farm off its coast, 10 to 20 miles from Ocean City. Getting all their ducks in a row hasn't been easy. The governor Martin O’Malley is leading the charge, with support from the state's citizens who's support for the project hit 72% in a recent poll and the state Senate. The latest piece of the puzzle to fall into place was a positive vote at the General Assembly (88 yays, 48 nays) allowing to set the financial foundation of the project. The Baltimore Sun writes:
The bill will require suppliers of electricity in the state to get up to 2.5 percent of their power from offshore wind as early as 2017. And it would offer a successful developer a subsidy of up to $1.7 billion over 20 years — paid for by Maryland's residential and commercial electric ratepayers through slightly higher bills.
To pay for the subsidy, the Public Service Commission could authorize an additional charge of up to $1.50 a month for residential electricity customers. Commercial customers could see a charge of up to 1.5 percent of their electric bills.
Now they have to get approval from the Federal government to lease nearly 80,000 acres of ocean off Maryland, and then get some wind developers interested in actually building the turbines... Construction could still be 4 to 7 years away. But at least things are moving in the right direction, and hopefully future wind projects will go more smoothly, as the U.S. East Coast has a huge untapped wind energy potential that - if exploited properly - could help clean up the power grid with minimal impact compared to most alternatives.
The image above is from this slideshow showing Siemens building giant wind turbines offshore with a special ship.