Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Offshore wind power for Maryland

    Earlier this year the Maryland legislature passed a bill to incentivize the construction of an offshore wind farm about 10 nautical miles off the coast of Ocean City. The construction of a wind farm is projected to generate 850 jobs during the building process and 160 long-term positions. Once the farm is built it is predicted that energy bills for Maryland residents will increase by $1.50 monthly. This amount will decrease over time because the fuel from the farm is free. The cost to the community lies in the expensive capital investment needed to build the farm.
    Despite the capital costs, the tradeoff draws dependence away from foreign sources of energy, leading to economic and natural sustainability practices. Maryland plans to draw at least 20% of our energy needs from in-state renewable generation by the year 2022.
    During the time from 1999 to 2009, energy costs to Maryland ratepayers increased approximately twofold. Although offshore wind capital costs are high compared to traditional fossil fuels, the fuel cost is zero, making operational costs competitive. The Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development produced a regional employment model to estimate the total economic impact of offshore wind over the next five years. The analysis stated the impact at $1.3 billion, with $5.6 million in additional state tax revenues. This figure includes direct and indirect effects of the farm.
    This is a profitable opportunity for Maryland. The burden to each ratepayer is negligible compared to the gains derived from an alternative from fossil fuel energy. The placement of the turbines off the coast cuts down on complaints by Maryland residents about noise generated by the farm. However, the distance from the shore also adds the difficulties involved with transporting the energy across the ocean floor. From an economic and environmental standpoint the construction of a wind farm for Maryland is a sound choice.
--Joshua Moore

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