Baltimore City Council Casts Its Vote in Favor of Offshore Wind

Baltimore’s City Council voted 14-0 Monday evening to urge the Maryland Public Service Commission to approve the building of an offshore wind farm off the coast of Ocean City.

The PSC may choose to approve one, both, or neither of the project applications currently under review, but it must announce that decision by May 17.

According to the Baltimore Business Journal,

Skipjack Offshore Wind LLC and US Wind Inc. are the two developers competing to build out the two Wind Energy Areas that make up 80,000 acres just 10 miles from the Ocean City coastline. Each company has its own ideas about how to approach the building of what could be a major industry for Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

Monday’s request for state action shows Baltimore is in support of the projects because of the potential to bring thousands of manufacturing jobs to the area, generate economic activity and produce clean energy. Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton showed her support for the project at a rally outside City Hall Monday afternoon.

“If this commission does the right thing and helps out our city, it would mean so much to all of us,” Middleton said.

A spokesperson from the PSC said the commission has received a substantial amount of public feedback during the proceeding, which is given significant weight in the decision making process. They held two public hearings in March at which there was, “quite a bit of support,” for the projects.

Middleton said it does not matter to her which project the PSC approves. She is interested, however, in both developers’ promise to use a Baltimore port for offshore wind operations.

Sparrows Point, the 3,100-acre site once home to Bethlehem steel, has been identified by both the developers and industry experts as the most obvious choice for building out a port to handle the demand of the offshore wind industry.

City Council members John Bullock, Kristerfer Burnett, Shannon Sneed, Mary Pat Clarke, Zeke Cohen, Ryan Dorsey, Edward Reisinger and Bill Henry also showed their support at the rally. Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer abstained from the vote.

Mayor Catherine Pugh was not in attendance, however Middleton said the Mayor showed her support earlier that day during a lunch meeting.

Anthony McCarthy, director of communications for the mayor’s office, said in an email that Mayor Pugh has been a longtime supporter of alternative energy.

“We are watching the process unfold with a great deal of interest,” he said.

And now that the vote has passed, all anyone can do is wait for the May 17 decision, said Anne Havemann, general counsel for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, one of the nonprofits that organized the rally.

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