The Maryland House of Delegates passed a plan by Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley to subsidize the development of offshore wind power by charging consumers and businesses more for electricity.
“It’s a great day for Maryland. [This] action makes Maryland one of the nation’s leaders in renewable energy and creates hundreds of durable green jobs,” said Democrat Delegate Tom Hucker.
The state Senate passed O’Malley’s plan earlier this month, and now it awaits the governor’s signature.
“In Maryland, our emerging green sector is a critically important part of our Innovation Economy, and therefore our ability to create jobs and compete globally,” O’Malley said. “By choosing to move forward with this legislation, we’re not only creating jobs, but we are also laying the groundwork for a better, more sustainable future for our children.”
O’Malley’s plan offsets the costs of wind development by charging each Maryland residential ratepayer about $1.50 per month, or a 1.5 percent surcharge for most businesses. The plan would cost $1.7 billion over 20 years, but still requires billions of dollars in federal tax incentives to be extended to make it viable.
“This offshore wind scheme requires a tax to make it possible,” said Larry Hogan, chairman of the anti-tax group Change Maryland. “The private sector does not get to tax people to experiment with projects and with very few exceptions neither should government. This will be a huge waste — assuming anything gets built at all.”
The plan would also require power companies to get 2.5 percent of their power from offshore wind as soon as 2017.
Opposition in the legislature was led by Republican state Senate Minority Leader E. J. Pipkin, who opposed using the government to prop up certain industries.
Pipkin previously called the legislation “corporate welfare” and said that residents’ money would likely benefit just one wind power developer.
“Governor O’Malley has been focused on increasing the cost of electricity and gasoline for struggling Maryland families and small businesses,” Hogan added. “He has now accomplished half his goal, and is working hard to increase the cost of gas in Maryland to the highest in the region.”
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