By Carley Milligan Digital Editor, Baltimore Business Journal
Maryland’s POWER Act primarily seeks to increase Maryland’s offshore wind capacity goal and directs the state to study and solicit solutions to a major issue the industry will face locally related to transmitting offshore energy to land.
Maryland legislators are considering a bill that would further the state’s commitment to offshore wind, among other steps aimed at signaling its desire to be a leader in the emerging industry.
The Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources Act, or POWER for short, primarily seeks to increase Maryland’s offshore wind capacity goal and directs the state to study and solicit solutions to a major issue the industry will face locally related to transmitting offshore energy to land. It also helps move Maryland closer to meeting its long-term greenhouse gas reduction and clean energy goals.
The proposed legislation, cross-filed as SB0781 and HB0793, comes as states up and down the East Coast are competing heavily for investment from offshore wind developers and as the federal government prepares to open a new mid-Atlantic offshore lease area and dole out billions set aside for renewable energy in a recently-passed bill. It also draws attention to Maryland’s position in the industry just weeks before an international offshore wind conference is expected to arrive in Baltimore.
Del. Lorig Charkoudian, the bill’s primary sponsor in the Maryland House of Delegates, said the legislation really sets the stage for the next chapter of offshore wind in Maryland.
“If we want to be competitive and we want the manufacturing investment in the state we have to demonstrate we are going to take the next big step, and that we’re ready and solving all the big challenges,” Charkoudian told the Baltimore Business Journal this week.
Currently, developers Ørsted Offshore North America and US Wind Inc. hold the rights to construct two wind farms off the coasts of Maryland and Delaware. Those projects are expected to be operational by 2026, pending final federal approval, and come with construction, hiring, financial investment and other commitments, including new steel and cable manufacturing facilities at Tradepoint Atlantic in Baltimore County. The sizes of the projects have more than quadrupled since the first farms were approved in 2017, following legislation in 2019 that increased the state’s capacity for offshore wind.
Despite those recent expansions and Maryland’s early adoption of the industry, the state still lags behind others in terms of total offshore wind capacity, including New Jersey (7,500 MW by 2035) and New York (9,000 MW by 2035). The POWER Act seeks to make the state more competitive by increasing the capacity to 8,500 MW by 2031, up from the current 2,022 MW.
“At the beginning we were the leader, we were moving this forward, but we have dipped back to almost the end of the pack,” said Teaera Strum, CEO of Strum Contracting, a Baltimore steel and welding company that has worked within the offshore wind industry. Strum has testified several times in support of offshore wind legislation in Maryland, including this week for the Senate bill.