Maryland Joins Three-State Offshore Wind Coalition; Developer Applauds Partnership

OCEAN CITY — While two offshore wind projects off the coast of Ocean City continue to chug through the approval and implementation phases, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Thursday a three-state agreement with North Carolina and Virginia to spur further offshore wind development.

Hogan joined the governors of Virginia and North Carolina on Thursday in announcing a three-state collaboration to advance offshore wind projects in the region and promote the mid-Atlantic and the southeast as a hub for offshore wind energy. The announcement comes as two projects off the coast of Ocean City, including the US Wind and Skipjack projects, continue to move forward.

It’s uncertain at this point what, if anything, the three-state partnership means for those projects. At least one of the developers of two of the ongoing offshore wind projects off the coast of Ocean City was already applauding Maryland’s joining of the three-state coalition on Thursday.

“Maryland has been a leader in offshore wind since the passing of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013,” said Brady Walker, Mid-Atlantic Market Manager for Ørsted. “Today’s announcement will help to move the American offshore wind industry forward in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Ørsted applauds this forward-thinking approach from Governors Hogan, Northam and Cooper, and we’re excited to engage with their effort to grow this new American industry.”
The creation of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources, or SMART-POWER, provides a framework for the three states to cooperatively promote, develop, and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce.

Specifically, the three states agree to form a SMART-POWER leadership team with representatives from each state that will work to streamline the development of regional offshore wind resources.

“Maryland has been leading the charge when it comes to real, bipartisan, common sense solutions and we are proud to continue setting an example for the nation of bold environmental leadership,” said Hogan on Thursday. “Joining this multi-state partnership to expand offshore wind development will further our strong record of supporting responsible energy projects that provide jobs, clean air benefits, and energy independence.”

As southeast and mid-Atlantic states become a focus for offshore wind developers and supply chain companies, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia recognize that the fast-growing, global offshore wind industry has significant potential to drive economic development and job creation as well as reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and other harmful air pollutants. According to the United State Department of Energy, the Atlantic Coast offshore wind project pipeline is estimated to support up to 86,000 jobs, $57 billion in investments, and provide up to $25 billion in economic output by 2030.

“Offshore wind development combined with our strong solar capacity will bring more high paying, clean energy jobs to North Carolina while we continue to ramp up our fight against climate change,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “This bipartisan agreement with neighboring states allows us to leverage our combined economic power and ideas to achieve cost effective success.”

Through this partnership, the three states have committed to work together to increase regulatory certainty, encourage manufacturing of component parts, reduce project costs through supply chain development, share information and best practices, and promote synergy.

“Harnessing the power of offshore wind is key to meeting the urgency of the climate crisis and achieving 100% clean energy by 2050,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. “Virginia is well-positioned to scale up offshore wind development with a 12-megawatt wind demonstration project already built off our coast. This agreement will help unlock our collective offshore wind resources and generate tremendous economic and environmental benefits for the region. We look forward to working with our partners in Maryland and North Carolina to grow the offshore wind industry and secure a cleaner, healthier, and more resilient future.”

Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia have access to vast resources and assets, such as deepwater ports and transportation infrastructure, top-tier universities and research institutions, and highly trained workforces, to support the offshore wind industry and supply chain efficiently develop along the Atlantic Coast.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.