Maryland Passes Legislation to Accelerate Offshore Wind Power Growth

Maryland expands wind targets and enables infrastructure
(courtesy of Offshore Wind Maryland)

Published Apr 11, 2023 7:11 PM by The Maritime Executive

Maryland’s General Assembly took bold steps on the last day of its legislative session passing bills that set ambitious goals to expand the state's use of offshore wind energy and laying the groundwork for the infrastructure to support the expansion programs. The initiative which is headed to the state’s Governor Wes Moore who is expected to sign the legislation would if realized more than quadruple Maryland’s offshore wind power generation capabilities and is being widely hailed by both the industry and independent trade groups.

Governor Moore at the end of March highlighted the state’s goal to expand its use of offshore wind energy. He announced an ambitious goal to raise Maryland’s offshore wind capacity to 8.5 gigawatts, which would power nearly three million homes. The state currently has four projects designated, MarWin and Momentum Wind to be developed by US Wind with a total power output of just over 1 GW due to begin operation in 2026. Ørsted is also working on two fields, both at SkipJack, which combined would add just under a further 1 GW also in 2026. The governor however called for Maryland to produce all its energy from clean sources by 2035.

The legislature passed the Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act with adopts the 8.5 GW target while addressing barriers to building offshore wind projects by upgrading Maryland’s Eastern Shore’s electric grid and facilitating the construction of a shared transmission infrastructure. Compatriot pieces of legislation making up the comprehensive package also focuses on establishing 3 GW of energy storage and requires the Maryland Public Service Commission to develop a cost-effective procurement program.

“Passing these bills creates incredible opportunities for Maryland,” said Moira Cyphers, Eastern Region State Affairs Director of the American Clean Power Association, an independent trade association. “In particular, the POWER ACT victory should be a signal to federal regulators currently considering the size and location for new offshore wind leases off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic that the Central Atlantic Wind Energy Areas must be robust. As storage is critical to meeting our nation’s emissions and energy goals, Maryland’s passage of this energy storage bill signals important progress toward building clean energy capacity.”

Maryland’s offshore wind industry traces its history back to the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, which required 2.5 percent of all electricity sales in Maryland to come from offshore wind, part of an overall goal to procure 25 percent of electricity usage from renewable sources by 2020. Following the innovative legislation, Maryland was among the first states to award wind projects in 2017 for the first phases of MarWin and Skipjack. In 2020, the state passed further legislation expanding its targets for offshore wind power generation and the following year awarded Momentum Wind and the second phase of Skipjack.

“The POWER Act is a real game changer for Maryland,” said Jeff Grybowski, US Wind CEO, the developer of MarWin and Momentum Wind. “It sets a path for the people of Maryland to reap the benefits of huge amounts of clean energy in the coming years. It also tells the entire offshore wind industry globally that Maryland is back big time as a major player. Companies looking to invest in offshore wind have to seriously consider Maryland.”

US Wind was launched in 2011 and is majority owned by Italy’s Renexia. US-based investment management firm Apollo Global Management is also a minority investor in US Wind.

Plans were recently announced for the development of a facility that will build monopiles and towers at the former Sparrows Point facility which is being redeveloped into a multi-purpose logistics and port facility. US Wind and Spanish steel fabricator Haizea Wind Group will develop the Sparrows Point Steel terminal to support US Wind's construction plans. Previously, Ørsted announced plans for Maryland’s first offshore wind steel fabrication center to support its projects in the state as well as in New Jersey.  They also announced plans for one of the first operations & maintenance centers (O&M) to be at a newly developed port facility in Ocean City, Maryland.