After two years of intense debate, Maryland's House Economic Matters committee has voted 13 to 8 in favor of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012.
The legislation would set up a market-driven process to incentivize the construction of offshore wind turbines 10 miles or more off the coast of Ocean City, Md.
Gov. Martin O'Malley has been a strong proponent of offshore wind, but the state's General Assembly has pushed back, saying offshore wind legislation would negatively affect ratepayers.
The 2012 version of the bill, which is modeled after New Jersey's Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, addresses those concerns by requiring that offshore wind power developers prove that their project proposals will produce positive net economic and environmental benefits for the state.
Proponents of the bill are quick to point out these potential economic benefits.
"Maryland's businesses want to see offshore wind development come to our state – and for good reason," notes Ross Tyler of the Business Coalition for Maryland Offshore Wind. "This is a jobs bill – the General Assembly should pass the offshore wind bill and start a new industry for the U.S., which will bring thousands of new jobs to the state."
The bill now goes to the floor of the House of Delegates, where it is expected to pass, according to industry group Marylanders for Offshore Wind.