Maryland approves largest US offshore wind project yet

The state is the latest to approve a scheme along the East Coast that calls for developers to invest in production facilities as part of the deal.

The Maryland Public Service Commission has approved two offshore wind projects and accelerated the industry with a provision to build a steel fabrication port facility.

The state is allowing proposals from Baltimore-based US Wind and Deepwater Wind subsidiary Skipjack Offshore Energy to move forward with the development of 368MW of offshore wind capacity.

“The approval today of the nation's first large-scale offshore wind projects brings to fruition the General Assembly's efforts to establish Maryland as a regional hub for this burgeoning industry,” PSC chairman Kevin Hughes said.

US Wind's proposal is to build 248MW of offshore wind generation 12 to 15 nautical miles off Maryland's coast for an estimated $1.4 billion. The company said it expects the project to be operational by 2022.

Skipjack's 120MW development is planned for 21 miles offshore and is estimated to cost $720 million. It has a 2020 completion deadline. Its parent company, Deepwater Wind, completed the US's first offshore wind farm last year off the coast of Rhode Island, the 30MW Block Island project.

PSC's decision is subject to approval from the federal government's assessment of the developer's plans.

The commission said that residential customers will see their electric bill impacted by less than $1.40, and less than 1.4 percent annually for commercial and industrial users, according to independent consultant Levitan & Associates.

The plan also calls for the developers to invest $76 million in a steel fabrication plant in Maryland and $39.6 million for upgrades at Baltimore country's Tradepoint Atlantic shipyard.

PSC's move toward offshore wind comes as other states move forward with their own development of the nascent industry. Last week, Iberdrola's US subsidiary Avangrid Renewables partnered with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners for a project planned off the coast of Massachusetts.