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Maryland commission approves credits to expand offshore wind projects

Maryland’s Public Service Commission awarded renewable energy credits to two developers planning to build offshore wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City and are expected to bring thousands of manufacturing jobs to Sparrows Point.

State regulators on Friday announced it would grant the subsidies to Skipjack Offshore Energy, a subsidiary of the Danish developer Ørsted, and US Wind, a Baltimore-based subsidiary of Italian renewable energy firm Renexia SpA. The credits will support the next phases of the developers’ respective projects as they seek to expand.

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US Wind, which holds lease rights to an area that spans about 80,000 acres 13 miles off the coast of Ocean City, has already been working on the first phase, called “MarWin,” which includes building 22 turbines about 17 miles from shore. US Wind won approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission in 2016 for that stage, expected to generate about 270 megawatts of wind energy and power for about 80,000 homes by 2025.

The latest round of credits will enable the construction of the wind farm’s second phase, “Momentum Wind,” which will have 55 additional turbines when built out by 2026 and generate more than 800 megawatts.

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Meanwhile, Ørsted’s proposed Skipjack Wind 2 would generate 846 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 250,000 homes on the Delmarva peninsula. The first phase of the Skipjack Wind project will generate 120 megawatts, according to the company.

The project will position “Maryland as a long-term offshore wind energy manufacturing hub,” said David Hardy, of Ørsted Offshore North America, in a statement. Maryland residents will “benefit from offshore wind for decades to come.”

Ørsted and US Wind have proposed manufacturing components at Tradepoint Atlantic, a 3,300-acre logistics center in Baltimore County, that would serve each company’s projects as well as energy projects along the East Coast. The Public Service Commission will require developers to create at least 10,324 jobs and commit to certain goals to engage local and minority businesses.

Together, the projects will yield nearly $1 billion in in-state spending and will spur the creation of more than 10,000 new jobs in Maryland, according to the commission. The new proposed projects are in addition to more than 368 megawatts of offshore wind already being developed by both companies off Maryland’s shore and whose ORECs were approved by the Commission in 2017.

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Maryland is pursuing renewable energy projects as part of a mandate in the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2019 that requires half of the state’s energy to come from sources such as wind or solar power by 2030.

The proposals were evaluated on impacts to electric bills, economic development benefits and progress towards lowering the State’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the commission.

The projects are both expected to be operational before the end of 2026, the commission said.

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