Following Rally, Baltimore City Council Passes Resolution in Support of Offshore Wind

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

BALTIMORE — On May 8, the Baltimore City Council resoundedly passed a resolution supporting offshore wind development in Maryland. Baltimore City Councilwoman Sharon Middleton introduced the resolution, co-sponsored by 14 of the 15 city Council Members, urging the Public Service Commission to approve one or both of the offshore wind farm proposals currently under consideration.  


Preceding the vote, Baltimore residents, local elected officials, and environmental advocates rallied in front of City Hall to show support for offshore wind development and the Baltimore City Council resolution. The Maryland Public Service Commission (PUC) is currently reviewing two proposals to build offshore wind farm projects off Ocean City, Maryland. US Wind, Inc. plans to build a 748-megawatt offshore wind farm. Skipjack Offshore Wind, LLC, a subsidiary of Deepwater Wind Holdings, proposes a 120-megawatt project. Both applicants have referenced Sparrows Point in Baltimore County as the site of a future assembly/manufacturing plant for their operations. The PUC must decide by May 17th whether or not to approve the proposals.


Councilwoman Middleton stated, “It's important for Maryland, and more specifically, Baltimore, to get on board with organizations such as Clean Water Action and Chesapeake Climate Action Network to join other cities, states, and countries in the delivery of renewable wind energy projects.  The health benefits, manufacturing careers, and resources are essential to the growth of our city.  We have the components and now is the time!”


These two proposals present Maryland, and Baltimore in particular, with the opportunity to become a hub for the still-nascent offshore wind industry. The PUC found that development, construction, and operation of the first phase of the US Wind project (248 megawatts) would create 7,050 jobs over 20 years and generate an estimated $1,354 million in economic activity for the state. The PUC also found that development, construction, and operation of the Skipjack project would create 2,635 jobs over 20 years and generate an estimated $536.4 million in economic activity for the state. Much of the economic activity created by both projects will take place in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The U.S. Department of Energy has found that jobs associated with the offshore wind industry have average annual earnings (including benefits) of $141,000 with supply chain job holders earning an estimated $78,000 annually and induced jobs providing approximately $57,000.


Delegate Robbyn Lewis of Baltimore City’s 46th District stated: “Baltimore is reclaiming its identity as a city of makers and builders. By embracing green technologies like wind turbine manufacturing, our city is also grabbing the lead in renewable energy. We'll make good jobs and produce our own energy -- to win the 21st century.”


Laqeisha Greene, a young activist and lifelong resident of Baltimore city who is a member of the United Workers Leadership Council, the Westside Human Rights committee, and the Baltimore Housing Roundtable, stated: "Baltimore needs offshore wind energy! Why? Because for too long this city has stood on feeble legs with the stance that trickle down development works, and it doesn't. It's time for the city government to invest in green energy and companies that will offer skilled tradework that's marketable and life sustaining."


Not only would offshore wind projects create jobs and economic activity in Maryland and in Baltimore, a commitment to offshore wind energy would also displace polluting sources of energy, may of which are located in and around Baltimore, improving air quality across the state and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


As an urban center and a port city, Baltimore has high potential for being heavily impacted by climate change. State and local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution are important contributions to overall emissions reductions. Part of Maryland’s plan to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goal is a Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires Maryland to get 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.


“The Maryland Environmental Health Network supports offshore wind in Maryland because it is a real opportunity to displace pollution that increases poor health outcomes for Marylanders,” said MdEHN’s Executive Director Tamara Toles O'Laughlin. “We rank fifth in the nation in adult asthma and have some of the worst ground level ozone pollution in our region. Installed turbines generate no pollution. It is time to act on climate, and embrace renewable energy for cleaner air and better health for all.”


Larry Bannerman, a resident of the Turner Station neighborhood near Sparrow’s Point and member of the Turner Station Conservation Teams, with 38 years experience in High Voltage test, maintenance and repair, said, “Fortunately for us, there is a tried and tested source of  clean energy that is bringing with it, jobs and skills for the future. That source of energy is offshore wind.  I support the U.S. Wind project.”


By passing this resolution, Baltimore City will be taking a stand in support of offshore wind, which offers the creation of a Maryland-based manufacturing hub for the wind industry that will bring significant economic benefits to the state and the City of Baltimore while also displacing polluting sources of energy and helping Maryland achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Jennifer Kunze
Taylor Smith-Hams