Labor unions, civil rights organizations, businesses, and environmentalists celebrate the historic and transformative offshore wind bill going to the Governor’s desk.
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland General Assembly has officially sent the Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources Act, or POWER Act (SB781/HB793), to the desk of Governor Wes Moore, who has promised to sign it. The POWER Act is sponsored by Delegate Lorig Charkoudian (D-20) and Senators Katie Fry Hester (D-9) and Brian Feldman (D-15).
The bipartisan support for the legislation in both chambers is representative of the broad support for offshore wind among Maryland constituencies. The POWER Act is supported by labor unions, business associations, civil rights organizations, climate groups, and consumer advocates.
“The passage of the POWER Act is a crucial victory for our planet and for our economy,” said Del. Lorig Charkoudian, the House sponsor. “I am proud of our work in the General Assembly to pass this legislation that sets a bold goal, establishes a procurement method that takes the burden off of ratepayers, and solves the most significant challenge to offshore wind development – transmission. It will lead to significant investment and new business in Maryland, with good union jobs.”
“The POWER Act is meeting the moment,” said Sen. Katie Fry Hester, the Senate sponsor. “Our state has set ambitious climate goals, and now we are meeting them by prioritizing the rapid deployment of generation and transmission technologies to leverage over $1.5 billion of investment from the private sector. I am thrilled that this bill moved quickly to the Governor’s desk.”
“The POWER Act is smart energy policy for Maryland on both the climate change and economic development-job creation fronts,” said Sen. Brian Feldman, Chair of the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee and a co-sponsor of the bill.
The POWER Act will:
- Strengthen labor standards for offshore wind manufacturing, installation, and maintenance, ensuring these projects provide good, union jobs.
- Set a goal for the state to generate 8.5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2031. Maryland is currently building two gigawatts.
- Facilitate the construction of a shared transmission infrastructure to reduce the cost and environmental impact of future offshore wind projects.
- Procure roughly 1 additional gigawatt of offshore wind power in existing lease areas while protecting ratepayers.
Offshore Wind energy in Maryland has already secured a commitment on behalf of developers to bring union steel jobs back to Maryland. “At its peak, Bethlehem Steel once employed over 30,000 steelworkers providing good-paying union jobs,” said Jim Strong of the United SteelWorkers. “Offshore wind offers the return of steel fabrication and steelworkers at Sparrows Point, and we thank the Maryland General Assembly for passing the POWER Act because it provides the potential to create high paying union jobs in the supply chain sector.”
“The Iron Workers and our registered union apprenticeship program are ready to train and build the new offshore wind industry and to help Maryland reach its renewable energy goals. The POWER Act ensures the residents of Maryland will have good union jobs for years to come, and careers they can retire from,” said Aaron Bast, Business Manager and Financial Secretary of Iron Workers Local 5.
Matching labor’s support, Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV said “to achieve 100% clean energy generation, Maryland needs to deploy more renewable energy, and offshore wind is one of the most reliable clean energy resources available to us. By making substantial upgrades to our grid, the state is opening up new possibilities for how much offshore wind we will be able to build. The POWER Act begins to address the transmission challenge, provides environmental and health benefits, and introduces a way to pay for clean energy infrastructure that does not impact ratepayers. That’s a win-win solution for Maryland.”
“The POWER Act will bring good union jobs to Maryland, lower energy costs, and reduce pollution,” added Jamie DeMarco, Maryland Director at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Thanks to the bill sponsors, President Ferguson, and Speaker Jones, Maryland is a leader in addressing the climate crisis.”
“The POWER Act will help transform the way Maryland powers its homes and businesses, and is a crucial step for Maryland to meet its laudable renewable energy goals,” said Nick Bibby, Maryland state lead at Advanced Energy United. “In addition to setting the ambitious 8.5 GW goal for offshore wind power production, the bill will improve the transmission infrastructure planning process to improve grid efficiency and resiliency, lower utility bills for homes and businesses, and create good-paying jobs that connect Maryland to wind and solar resources.”
“The POWER Act is a win for the environment and for our communities. It empowers our state to meet critical climate goals without shifting the costs onto low-income families who cannot afford the costs of pollution nor of higher bills.” Said Marceline White, Executive Director of Economic Action Maryland.
“Today, Maryland reinserts itself into the offshore wind conversation. A decade ago, Maryland sat at the forefront of the U.S. offshore wind industry with passage of groundbreaking legislation, but the ensuing years have seen neighboring states pull ahead with bolder commitments and energy,” said Liz Burdock, CEO and President of the Business Network for Offshore Wind. “The POWER Act repositions Maryland back into a leadership position, and with the federal government opening up new lease areas next year, offers the state a rare opportunity to attract major manufacturing and supply chain investment. Maryland must capitalize on this opportunity by moving quickly from legislation to execution and commercialization.”
“The POWER Act establishes a comprehensive strategy to plan, connect, and deploy offshore wind at the scale necessary to support supply chain investments and decarbonize Maryland’s economy at the lowest possible cost to Marylanders. MAREC Action congratulates and thanks the Maryland General Assembly, its leadership, and the bill’s prime sponsors, Del. Lorig Charkoudian and Sen. Katie Fry Hester, for reclaiming national leadership in offshore wind and establishing a first-in-the-region initiative to proactively plan a 21st century transmission grid,” said Evan Vaughan, Deputy Director of MAREC Action, a business coalition of utility-scale wind, solar and energy storage companies active in the Mid-Atlantic states.
“Passing this bill creates incredible opportunities for Maryland. Offshore wind will be an important and reliable source of energy and will improve Maryland’s environment and air quality. The POWER ACT victory should signal to federal regulators currently considering 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 – especially now that Maryland has passed this bill,” said Moira Cyphers, Eastern Region State Affairs of the American Clean Power Association.
“Today is a wonderful day for Maryland’s offshore wind industry as well as the workers and communities that power this industry,” said BlueGreen Alliance Regional Field Organizer Dan Taylor. “By passing the POWER Act, Maryland has fast-tracked their state towards its clean energy goals and tied good union jobs to future construction and manufacturing in local communities. The POWER Act delivers on the dual promise of good-paying, safe jobs and a reduction of emissions driving climate change. The BlueGreen Alliance is proud to support this legislation and its implementation.”
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CCAN Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For over 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Learn more: www.chesapeakeclimate.org