Maryland Public Service Commission Starts Reviewing Offshore Wind Applications

The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) began a 180-day proceeding to evaluate two offshore wind project proposals on Monday, 21 November.

PSC opened an application period for a USD 1.9 billion Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit (OREC) in February 2016.

The initial application was submitted by US Wind in the same month. PSC received the second and final OREC application from an unnamed developer at the end of October. The name of the second applicant has not yet been disclosed.

PSC will now evaluate the applications based on the legislative net benefit criteria. Once a project is approved, construction could begin as soon as 2019 and wind turbines could be spinning off of the Atlantic coast in 2020.

Offshore wind applications are required to meet a set of legislated criteria that provide a net benefit to Marylanders including: long-term price stability, environmental and public health benefits, creating in-state jobs, producing positive economic benefits, reducing transmission congestion costs for consumers, and providing the lowest price (not to exceed USD 1.50 per month in 2012 dollars).

“This is the last step for Maryland to move forward with an offshore wind project,” said Karla Raettig of Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

“Maryland is excited to utilize this tremendous clean energy and become a leader with this new U.S. industry.”

The passage of the 2013 Maryland Offshore Energy Wind Act created a framework for Maryland to utilize offshore wind as a clean and renewable energy source.

The law established a number of provisions for a qualified offshore wind project, which is required to be located on the outer continental shelf, between 10 and 30 miles off the coast.

“The wind blowing off the Atlantic coast is a tremendous untapped clean energy source that will create thousands of local jobs and help stabilize electric rates throughout the state,” said Josh Berman of the Sierra Club.

According to a report by Synapse Energy Economics, a 200 megawatt offshore wind farm in Maryland would result in USD 75 million in benefits, helping reduce premature death by lowering sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions–harmful pollutants emitted from fossil fuels–and benefiting the climate by reducing carbon pollution.

In August 2014, BOEM awarded the Baltimore-headquartered US Wind with a lease sale of 80,000 acres offshore Maryland for potential wind energy development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) auctioned the Maryland Wind Energy Area as two leases, referred to as the North Lease Area and the South Lease Area.

US Wind plans to build a 750MW offshore wind farm some 15 miles off Ocean City. The wind farm will comprise 187  turbines, installed in 20-30 meters water depth.

The project is anticipated to come online in early 2020, with an operational life expectancy of more than 25 years.

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