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Would-be developers seeking to build an offshore wind farm off the Maryland coast should expect the release of the state's offshore renewable energy certificates (ORECs) sometime after the Aug. 19 federal auction for nearly 80,000 acres, according to Regina Davis, spokesperson at the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC).

"While the Commission is aware that [Bureau of Ocean Energy Management] issued the Final Sales Notice on July 3rd with a scheduled auction date of August 19th, our state regulatory process is separate and distinct from the federal auction process," Davis tells NAW, adding that once the regulations are published, there is a 45-day public comment period followed by a final rulemaking.

If no changes are made, the PSC could issue the rules as soon as early September. According to the PSC, the regulations will be published in the Maryland Register.

Maryland is one of the first states trying to create a state-based financing mechanism using ORECs. New Jersey is using a similar state-based model.

Passed in April 2013, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act created a mechanism to catalyze the development of up to 500 MW of offshore wind capacity at least 10 nautical miles off of Maryland’s coast. A target project size of 200 MW would require the installation of an estimated 40 turbines off the coast of Ocean City.

Although the act does not technically equate to a power purchase agreement (PPA), Maryland has developed a state-based model to get the basic financial and economic conditions in place to support the growing offshore wind sector. The state-based models are thought to be a viable alternative to traditional PPA.

Each of the three U.S. offshore wind PPAs signed to date has been executed under the traditional model, wherein a utility agrees to buy all - or a portion - of a project's output.

However, as the state-based programs are relatively new, offshore wind developers have yet to reap the benefits.  



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