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Black Caucus chair: People of color stand to reap benefits of Maryland wind power | READER COMMENTARY

Two offshore wind turbines have been built off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Plans for Dominion Energy's massive offshore wind farm near the Virginia coast were filed with the State Corporation Commission on Friday Nov. 5, 2021, bringing the project one major step closer to becoming reality. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File).
Two offshore wind turbines have been built off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Plans for Dominion Energy's massive offshore wind farm near the Virginia coast were filed with the State Corporation Commission on Friday Nov. 5, 2021, bringing the project one major step closer to becoming reality. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File). (Steve Helber/AP)

Maryland is on the verge of a clean energy revolution, and the economic impact will be enormous.

The focus of this new era of clean energy will be several miles off the coast of Ocean City where new offshore wind turbines will be built to harness the power of the ocean wind. These turbines will work around the clock to generate electricity to power our state while releasing none of the emissions that are fueling climate change.

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But offshore wind’s economic impacts will also benefit communities across Maryland. And under proposals pending in the state, we are poised to see businesses owned by people of color play a major role in bringing this new clean energy to Maryland. Offshore wind can both help Maryland address global warming and contribute to a more equitable energy economy.

Right now, there are no wind turbines operating offshore in Maryland. But that could start to change quickly, as two companies have submitted major proposals to build wind farms off Ocean City (”Caroline County steel fabricator will supply foundations for wind farm developer Ørsted,” Oct. 14).

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US Wind is a Maryland-based enterprise that is seeking approval from state and federal authorities to build two wind farms. The company has committed to building a steel fabrication plant in Sparrows Point, bringing steel jobs back to the site of what was once a manufacturing powerhouse.

It’s particularly exciting that US Wind’s team also includes several firms owned by people of color, ranging from Black-owned construction firms in Baltimore City and Harford County to a Hispanic-owned concrete firm in Prince George’s County.

The second firm ready is Ørsted, a Danish firm with extensive experience in wind energy that is also waiting for approval to start construction. Ørsted also has committed to working with businesses owned by people of color. It recently announced that a minority-owned firm in Federalsburg on the Eastern Shore will be a part of its team, constructing wind turbine foundations for projects off Ocean City and in other states.

It’s encouraging news that both projects have committed to minority-owned firms to help bring clean, offshore wind energy to Maryland homes and businesses. Those firms will create family-supporting jobs for workers in an energy sector that will grow considerably in the years ahead.

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All we need now is for the federal authorities and the Maryland Public Service Commission to approve pending applications and make offshore wind a vital part of our energy future.

Addressing climate change in Maryland should be a major priority for the General Assembly in 2022. We must accelerate our work to develop a zero-emission energy system and do our part to slow global warming.

As we commit to this clean-energy future, we must also ensure that entrepreneurs of color are part of the solution and can reap some of the economic benefits.

Maryland has proposals pending that would help accomplish this goal. Let’s make it happen and show the country how climate equity is done.

Darryl Barnes, Annapolis

The writer, a Democrat, represents District 25 (Prince George’s County) in the Maryland House of Delegates and is chair of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus.

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

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