Last Friday afternoon, Gov. Wes Moore signed a bill in Sparrows Point that looks to make Maryland a national center for offshore wind energy.
The governor, a Democrat, signed three bills, including the POWER ACT, the Clean Trucks Act, and the Clean Transportation and Energy Act at Tradepoint Atlantic, a shipping logistics and distribution center on the Patapsco River.
The bill signing paid homage to the former local economic powerhouse of Bethlehem Steel, as Moore and lawmakers look to resurrect union-backed jobs for local workers focused on clean energy. According to bill, the POWER Act will look to quadruple the state’s offshore wind capacity goals from 2 gigawatts to 8.5 gigawatts by 2031 — enough to power 3 million homes, according to the governor’s office.
The average home in Maryland uses about 900 kWh per month; even though wind turbines only produce about 40–50% of their rated capacity, 8.5 gigawatts would be enough to power every home in the state.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Maryland’s total energy capacity in 2021 was about 13 gigawatts. If the new goals are met, wind would be the dominant energy source in the state, ahead of nuclear power, natural gas and petroleum.
“Because of the work happening today at Tradepoint Atlantic, Maryland is on track to become the offshore wind capital of America; it’s happening through this partnership with Ørsted,” Moore said. “Together we will build on the great work of our partners at Tradepoint Atlantic, Ørsted, and U.S. Wind to build the clean energy future we want to see in Maryland.”
Moore selected Tradepoint Atlantic as the site of the bill signing because Ørsted and U.S. Wind will be assembling parts for the turbines at the facility, which will also serve as a coordinating hub for the companies’ offshore wind operations.
Tradepoint Atlantic had acquired the former site of the Bethlehem Steel in 2014, after the factory closed its doors and left hundreds of workers without jobs. Tradepoint Atlantic has been redeveloping the property by opening private ports and warehouse space for corporations like Under Armour and Amazon.
“This day has nearly been a decade in the making and it would not be possible without the support of our federal, state and local representatives,” said Kerry Doyle, Tradepoint Atlantic Managing Director. “You can see it right behind me — the combination of deepwater access, robust seaside infrastructure, rail connectivity and abundant real estate made Tradepoint a perfect fit for offshore wind.”
Ørsted Offshore, an offshore wind energy development group, and US Wind, a Baltimore subsidiary of Italian-renewable energy firm, have made several partnership deals to develop facilities at Tradepoint Atlantic.
According to officials at the bill signing, Ørsted’s 40-acre facility will employ 125 people and is slated to open later this year. Workers at the facility will assemble components for the Danish firm’s 966-megawatt Skipjack Wind Farm, located 19.5 miles off Maryland’s coast in Ocean City.
“The future of Sparrows Point is bright today,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, also a Democrat.
Cardin noted that the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden includes incentives for offshore wind that made Ørsted’s project financially feasible.
The governor signed several other environmentally focused bills into law on Friday. The Clean Trucks Act will require the state’s environmental department to increase a percentage of heavy-duty trucks sold in Maryland to have zero-emissions, starting in 2027. The Clean Transportation and Energy Act will extend a program that covers the cost of electric vehicle recharging stations.
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