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The Maryland Senate has passed the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, which is designed to jump-start offshore wind energy development off the state's coast.

The legislation, which was proposed by Gov. Martin O'Malley in January and passed by the House of Delegates last month, creates a mechanism to incentivize the development of a 200 MW offshore wind facility and establish a regulatory framework that would allow additional projects to interconnect to the grid in Maryland.

The bill also allows the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve a proposed offshore wind farm if the PSC were to estimate that the additional ratepayer impact would be below $1.50 per household, or 1.5% for nonresidential customers.

The legislation also contains a $10 million Offshore Wind Business Development Fund targeted to small and minority businesses to assist them in preparing to participate in this new industry. Prospective offshore wind developers would have to demonstrate that any project proposed would result in a net economic benefit to the state by creating jobs, boosting economic development and protecting public health.

This bill marks O’Malley’s third attempt at enacting offshore wind energy legislation. Earlier versions of the legislation, proposed in 2011 and 2012, were defeated by the state’s General Assembly. O’Malley is expected to sign the bill.

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