GARRETT COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) ―There’s been a major step forward in the quest to build a wind farm off the shore of Ocean City. Tuesday, federal regulators gave parts of the plan a green light. That makes Maryland the second state in the country to clear this significant hurdle in expanding wind power. The project could provide as much electricity as a coal-fired power plant, but without air pollution.
While that project is just an idea, another is reality. Maryland’s first wind farm is just weeks away from delivering clean, green energy.
Adam May has more.
Rising high above the scenic hilltops of western Maryland, the state’s first wind farm will begin operating in just a few weeks.
WJZ got an exclusive tour as construction crews put the finishing touches on the Criterion wind project.
“This is the first wind project and we’re proud of it. We think it’s elegant,” said Paul Allen.
Allen is a senior vice president for Constellation Energy. Their $140 million project will produce enough electricity to power up to 21,000 homes a year.
It’s exciting to residents hoping to get the green energy.
“We like the wind,” said Cindy Barnard.
“Build more,” said Charlotte Carr.
The expansion of wind is considered a key component in the race against global climate change. Some European countries now get up to a fifth of their energy from wind, but in the United States, most of our electricity still comes from polluting sources like coal and gas. Wind energy is less than one percent but growing.
“These wind turbines are making their contribution to cleaning up the overall pool of power we have that we’re all drawing out of,” Allen said.
“We have a lot of equipment,” said Criterion manager Don Shilobod.
Shilobod showed WJZ how the wind farm works. Gusts of wind spin the blades on top of 250-foot towers, cranking a generator. All 28 towers are connected to a substation through eight miles of underground cable.
“It will end up in someone’s home eventually,” Shilobod said.
Right now, Maryland trails most other states in the expansion of wind energy but that could soon change.
Ocean City could become home to one of the nation’s first and largest offshore wind farms after federal regulators okayed a state proposal for 10 miles off the coast. That project could power up to a million homes and create 4,000 jobs for people like electrician Doug Williams, who’s almost done with his job at the Criterion wind farm.
“I probably would have been laid off if it wasn’t for the job,” Williams said.
Governor Martin O’Malley set a goal for Maryland to get 20 percent of its power from green sources by the year 2022.