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Advancing wind energy reaps environmental, economic benefits


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Published on: Thursday, October 20, 2011

By Gov. Martin O'Malley

There are some challenges so large that we can only tackle them by working together. Creating and saving jobs is one of those challenges, and building a stronger, more sustainable Maryland for future generations is another.

To achieve our goals, we are working together to harness the planet-saving, job-creating power of clean, green, renewable energy in Maryland. Renewable energy is a win for jobs and for our economy. It’s a win for ratepayers. And it’s a win for our land, water and air.

One of the most promising types of renewable energy we are pursuing is wind energy. It is safe, clean, reliable and affordable … and it will bring us jobs.

It has been projected that there are enough wind resources off the Eastern Seaboard to generate more power than the region currently uses. In Maryland, we want to lead the region, and the nation, in bringing wind power to our shores.

We have set some of the most aggressive goals in the country for reducing our energy consumption, and increasing our use of renewable energy. We’ve set a goal that requires Maryland’s electricity suppliers provide 20 percent of their total electricity from renewable sources, including wind, by 2022. And we’ve set an aggressive goal for decreasing our state’s carbon footprint.

Today, we already have nearly 50 onshore wind turbines spinning in Western Maryland, and with their help, we’re on track to generate enough wind energy to power 37,000 homes.

To build on our progress, we’ve proposed new off-shore wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City. With these new turbines, we will be able to provide power for 196,000 Maryland homes. We will also be able to create as many as 2,000 manufacturing, construction and assembly jobs each year, on top of the 400 permanent jobs we would create upon completion. That helps produce an economic impact of $1.9 billion. 

To help us kick start clean power generation in our state, we have also entered into power purchase agreements through an initiative called “Clean Horizons.” That means, as a state, we agreed to purchase 20-years’ worth of power, including onshore wind power, from companies who agree, in turn, to build new renewable energy facilities.

Through this initiative, we are projecting that we will bring enough clean power onto our grid to support 20,000 homes — or 16 percent of our state government’s energy load. By entering these agreements, we have been able to create 250 construction jobs and leverage more than $320 million in private investment.

Our power purchase agreements have been so successful that, together with our neighbors in Delaware, we are reaching out to the federal government to forge more of these types of agreements for off-shore wind energy.

In Maryland, we have the resources to lead the way when it comes to creating clean energy jobs and securing a greater market share than our neighbors here at home and around the world.

We are recognized by the Milken Institute as being one of the top two states for science and technology. The Kauffman Index puts us in the top three in the nation for our ability to win in the new economy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says we are a Top 5 State for growth. We have the coastline conducive to offshore wind and are home to the most innovative and creative people on earth.

Working together, and by advancing wind energy in Maryland, we can create jobs and power our way into a better, more balanced and more sustainable future for generations to come.

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