LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS®
RSC (2012-4) Environment
OFF-SHORE WIND ENERGY ACT OF 2012 - SB 237 and HB 441
This year's Offshore Wind Energy Act specifies that a portion of Maryland's Renewable Portfolio Standard be met using the energy generated by offshore wind turbines and proposes to do this with a different funding mechanism than was proposed in the Governor's bill last year. Governor O'Malley himself testified.
The offshore wind plan is expected to create 1,800 construction jobs and increase electricity production, but will likely add to Marylanders' monthly bills from 2017 through 2037. Sen. Thomas M. "Mac" Middleton, who heads the Finance Committee, gave a favorable appraisal of the bill.
One hang-up by some legislators this year, as last, is the up-to-$2 monthly charge on residential utility bills to help subsidize the costs of wind turbine facilities. Proponents point out that this amount is approximately the cost of replacing one or two incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, and that prices are unstable and mostly rising for oil and gas under economic and political pressures as well as from the fact that the world is probably past "peak oil" and facing a decreasing supply.
Newspaper articles and editorials have been accumulating. One set of examples is that in mid-February the Washington Post had first a favorable article on the widespread interest and coalitions involved and then an editorial shortly thereafter challenging the practicality of the project. Since then, however, there have been articles around the state pointing out positive effects on the economy, including on minority businesses, and the likelihood that Baltimore could become a base for wind companies; in addition, several mayors in Prince George’s County have announced their support. The House bill was scheduled to be heard in Economic Matters on Thursday, February 23, but that hearing was canceled.
As mentioned in an earlier issue, the proposed wind turbines would be built 10 miles off the shore of Ocean City in areas leased by the federal government. The MD-Wind coalition is currently organizing another demonstration in Annapolis for Monday, April 2. Individuals who want to follow the planning activities more closely can join the e-group firstname.lastname@example.org.