O’Malley and Markell Ask Obama to Help Spark Offshore Wind

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has teamed up with Delaware Governor Jack Markell in a letter to President Obama asking him to join their states in signing up for power from offshore wind.

The proximity of Washington, D.C., to the mid-Atlantic’s offshore wind resources, coupled with the number of federal agencies and military installations in and around the DC metropolitan region, creates an exceptional opportunity to forge a federal-state partnership for the development of a power-purchase agreement for offshore-wind generated energy.  Development of one gigawatt (GW) of wind energy in the mid-Atlantic region could lead to the creation of 15,000 to 20,000 clean energy jobs.

Recall just what is at stake here.  Earlier this year, a report from the Abell Foundation found that:

… Maryland’s feasible wind resource off of its Atlantic coast (including both state and federal waters) is large enough to significantly contribute to the electric demand in the state.  Using existing, proven technology (monopile; 5 MW turbines) and accounting for various social, environmental, and nautical exclusion zones and conflict areas, Maryland’s available offshore wind resource could provide 67% of the state’s electric load.

That’s just Maryland — the potential resource extends along the entire eastern seaboard and out to the edge of the Outer Continental Shelf.  In total, it is a truly massive “deposit” of energy that is clean and located close to our country’s major load centers.  It means many, well-paying local jobs into the bargain.

Unfortunately, this opportunity faces determined opposition from the fossil-fuel-burning power companies who prefer the existing arrangement.  They have stymied the Cape Wind project for nearly a decade and probably hope to do the same to offshore wind development elsewhere on the East Coast.

The fossil-fuel industry would much prefer to build new transmission lines westward from Maryland to the Ohio valley in order to ramp up production at toxic-coal-burning power plants.  “Coal-by-wire” projects with names like Path, TrAIL and MAPP are all part of “Project Mountaineer.”

O’Malley and Markell want federal agencies to sign long-term power purchase agreements to buy power from offshore wind and take other steps to clear the way.

We can debate climate policy forever — which is exactly what the toxic-coal industry would like us to do.  What really matters are the decisions that get made about the energy infrastructure we start building today.  So, which will it be, President Obama?

Coal-by-wire or offshore wind?

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