The winds of change brought some great progress to Maryland. Earlier this year the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 passed through both houses of the legislature, and was signed into law by Govenor O'Malley on April 8th, 2013. This is a huge victory, locally and nationally.
The bill will help develop a 200-megawatt wind project off the coast of Ocean City by requiring electricity suppliers to buy offshore renewable energy credits. This victory comes after three years of hard work by thousands of activists who know that Maryland can be a national clean energy leader.
The legislation was championed by various organizations because of this focus on providing key provisions for minority groups. The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland was a major champion of the task force. We held a rally where over 100 students came out to rally their legislators to incorporate offshore wind degree programs at HBCUs. The NAACP's Maryland Conference also named offshore wind as one of its top priorities this year.
This new clean energy can't come soon enough, as dirty and outdated coal plants are harming Marylanders' health. For example, the Charles P. Crane and Herbert A. Wagner plants in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties threaten the region with dangerous sulfur dioxide pollution at levels more than four times what the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed safe.
Sulfur dioxide is known to cause respiratory problems, including breathing difficulty, asthma attacks, and diminished lung function. It can be especially dangerous for kids, the elderly, and those suffering from respiratory disease.
Offshore wind is a solid economic choice for the state. Based on a report from the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a major 200-megawatt offshore wind project would create almost 850 manufacturing and construction jobs for five years and an additional 160 ongoing supply and operations and maintenance jobs thereafter.