Wind farm developers accept Maryland's terms to move forward with projects off Ocean City

The developers of two wind farms planned off the coast of Ocean City are moving forward with their projects, accepting terms Maryland regulators laid out earlier this month in allowing them to collect subsidies from the state's electricity customers.

Deepwater Wind and U.S. Wind have both notified the Public Service Commission that they have agreed to invest a collective $115 million in manufacturing facilities and port upgrades around Sparrows Point in southeastern Baltimore County, and to contribute $6 million to a state offshore wind business development fund.

That spending was among the conditions the commission placed on the companies if they wanted to collect millions of dollars in ratepayer subsidies each year.

They are allowed to collect about $179 million a year, on average, through the sale of renewable energy certificates to state utilities and electricity supplers, expected to raise customer bills by 1.4 percent, or $1.40 per month for typical residential customers. Utilities must buy the credits to comply with a state law that will eventually require that one-fourth of Maryland's electricity supply come from renewable sources.

Rhode Island-based Deepwater said Thursday it was "pleased to accept" the conditions for its 15-turbine wind farm.

"We look forward to delivering a project that all Marylanders will be proud of," said Deepwater CEO Jeff Grybowski.

U.S. Wind, which is planning a 62-turbine farm, filed a letter with the commission Thursday also accepting the terms. Paul Rich, the company's director of project development, called it "very exciting" and said U.S. Wind is moving on to secure project financing and prepare construction permit applications.

The decisions mean Maryland is one step closer to being home to what would be the nation's second — and by far its largest — array of offshore wind turbines. Deepwater launched a five-turbine wind farm off Block Island in Rhode Island earlier this year, and is also developing a project off of Long Island.

Deepwater says its wind turbines will be built 19.5 miles northeast of Ocean City, at the closest, and 26 miles from the resort's downtown pier. The project will be capable of generating 120 megawatts of energy, enough for 35,000 homes, and is expected to launch in 2022.

U.S. Wind's farm would be between 14 and 17 miles off the coast of Ocean City and would generate more than twice as much electricity as the Deepwater project. It is expected to launch in 2020.

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