The expansion of wind energy speeds up.

Adam May reports on a new plan by the federal government that could make Maryland a national leader in the alternative energy source.

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior joined Governor Martin O’Malley at Fort McHenry for a major announcement on renewable energy.

“The wind potential off the Atlantic Coast is staggering,” said Ken Salazar.

And that’s why the federal government will now identify new priority areas along the East Coast for offshore wind farms and shorten the permit process to make leases to power companies available sooner.

“The timeline, the time frame, the regulatory hoops that needed to be jumped through are just way too long,” O’Malley said.

And the possibility of building a huge wind farm, stretching from Ocean City to Rehoboth Beach, is supported by lawmakers from both states.

“We need to fight our dependence on foreign oil and fight to be free of breathing dirty air,” said Delaware Senator Tom Carper.

Maryland’s first wind farm in western Maryland goes online next month.  It’s smaller than originally planned because of regulations and lack of incentives for investors.

Wind energy groups say this new initiative will help solve some of those major issues.

“The Obama administration’s leadership has shown that the offshore wind industry in the U.S. is open for business,” said Jim Lanard.  “It is the signal we’ve been looking for and waiting for for many years.”

The federal government’s plans on providing information packets to potential investors in six months.  They’re hoping to have new leases signed as early as 2011.

Wind on the East Coast is capable of producing 10 gigawatts of electricity.  That’s enough to power up to 10 million homes.


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