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The Maryland House of Delegates has passed the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, which was proposed by Gov. Martin O'Malley last month.

Several amendments to the bill were proposed, but most were defeated. However, the House did adopt an amendment that would establish a Clean Energy Program Task Force, which would make recommendations on the authorization of certain expenses related to offshore wind and report those recommendations to the governor and the state's General Assembly.

The offshore wind bill would create a mechanism to incentivize the development of a 200 MW offshore wind facility and establish a regulatory framework that would allow additional projects to interconnect to the grid in Maryland. The legislation would only allow the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve a proposed offshore wind farm if the PSC were to estimate that the additional ratepayer impact would be below $1.50 per household, or 1.5% for nonresidential customers.

The legislation also contains a $10 million Offshore Wind Business Development Fund targeted to small and minority businesses to assist them in preparing to participate in this new industry. Prospective offshore wind developers would have to demonstrate that any project proposed would result in a net economic benefit to the state by creating jobs, boosting economic development and protecting public health.

The bill now moves to the Maryland Senate, where similar legislation was defeated last year. 


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