By John Olszewski, Jr.
February 20, 2013
MD District 6 Legislative Update: Wind Power Bill
The Maryland House of Delegates will hold its final vote on the offshore wind bill Thursday or Friday, according to Del. John Olszewski Jr.
The House of Delegates recently voted on legislation allowing for the development of offshore wind farms. I supported this legislation for several reasons: to provide for stable energy pricing; improved health, climate and national security outcomes; and most importantly for jobs and growing the economy.
Coming as a follow-up to the update I provided last week about workforce training legislation, the EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) Act, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy legislation is a fitting complement. Officials are quick to say that they support the growth of new jobs, but not everyone votes to support their creation.
Indeed, unlike most products, the supply chain for wind turbines needs to exist close to the source of the projects, in order to keep transportation costs low. Thus, the bill offers a good chance for quality manufacturing jobs in Maryland generally and at Sparrows Point specifically. That means that there is a real chance that our district stands to benefit most directly and meaningfully from an offshore wind program. Estimates are that a moderately sized wind farm would support up to 1500 jobs, in addition to the 1000 Maryland businesses (employing over 30,000 workers) that would have the potential to provide component parts or services to this new, homegrown industry. After losing
85,000 manufacturing jobs since 1990, I will continue to do anything that might support a sustainable manufacturing community in southeast Baltimore County.
While job growth is an important component for supporting the legislation, it is certainly not the only benefit. The turbines, which will help provide stable energy pricing (because once installed, the cost of “fuel” is free) and act as an insurance policy against other forms of energy production, which is much more volatile.
A robust wind program will also improve health outcomes. Burning fossil fuels like coal contributes to air pollution that causes thousands of asthma attacks, lung cancer cases and premature deaths. By transitioning to clean energy sources like offshore wind, Maryland families stand to save nearly $100 million annually in health-related costs. And a moderate size offshore wind farm could power 250,000 electric cars forever, taking meaningful strides in ending our dependence on foreign fuel and improving our national security.
Much has been made of what could be up to $1.50 a month to support these projects. While many feel that the investment is worth the employment, health, and national security improvements alone, the truth is that this cost will be reduced over time as the cost of fossil fuels continues to rise. In fact, because of an amendment I attached to the bill, once the initial term of the wind farm expires, developers would be required to share future profits with ratepayers at a 50/50 split – which could eventually lead to sizable credits, rather than increased costs!
Offshore wind energy has the power to provide local jobs for clean energy while
improving our health, establishing long-term electric price stability, and keeping our air and water clean – all reasons why I supported its passage in the Maryland General Assembly.
About this column: John A. Olszewski, Jr., Democrat, District 6, Baltimore County, reaches out to voter about issues before the General Assembly.