OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ)—Thousands of new jobs. On Thursday, supporters of an off-shore wind farm near Ocean City released a new report. While it reveals the project would have significant economic impact, some lawmakers are also concerned about the cost to everyday citizens.
Adam May has more.
Plans to build between 80 and 200 wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City could create more than 2,000 jobs, according to a new report released by the Environmental Groups and Trade Unions.
“Clearly we need a strategy to put people back to work,” said Jim Strong, United Steelworkers. “We support the legislation and this report supports what we’ve been saying.”
One company called AC Wind just bought a factory in Hagerstown. If offshore wind goes forward, they say they can employ “upwards of 600 at two locations.”
But legislation pending in Annapolis needs to pass or the plans could die.
The Offshore Wind Energy Act would require power companies to purchase the green energy, possibly raising utility bills $1.44 a month.
WJZ caught undecided lawmakers being lobbied.
“We need to look out for pocketbooks of consumers, best options for the state,” said Sen. Allan Kittleman, (R) Howard/Carroll Counties. “No question nuclear is the way to go, but problem is that’s not a quick one.”
But so far, building wind farms in Maryland hasn’t been quick either.
WJZ recently got an exclusive tour of the state’s only wind farm. It is small compared to others in the United States, but this new project could make Maryland a national leader.
“We have all the human capital, people who want to work, quality jobs, and we can do it in our state. It becomes a very clear win-win situation,” said Sen. Paul Pinsky, (D) Prince George’s County.
Some opponents say the cost of an offshore farm could drive up utility by $9 a month. Governor Martin O’Malley, who is a strong supporter of the plan, calls that information false.
The first hearing on the wind energy bill is scheduled for next week.