In the debate whirling around Governor O’Malley’s offshore wind energy legislation, one of the top questions in the mix concerns whether the plan to build a 310 MW wind farm off Maryland’s coast would be good for the state’s small businesses. The good news is that several studies contend that the answer is “yes.” A recently released report from the Maryland Energy Administration found that the state could become a manufacturing hub for offshore-wind development and the Department of Business and Economic Development has found that this one offshore wind project could bring over two-billion dollars in net economic benefits to the state during construction.
Of course, it’s all well and good for the government to make projections. But what do the people on the ground, the small business owners who really know the pulse of the local economy think about offshore wind?
To get a good read on the situation, advocates for Marylanders for Offshore Wind have hit the streets to talk to small business owners and managers, and after a few weeks of door to door outreach the answer is in: small businesses around Perry Hall, Overlea, Parkville and Rosedale strongly support the wind initiative. Indeed, no less than 50 local small businesses have recently signed on to a letter endorsing offshore wind as a good investment for economic development, longer term energy price stability, and healthier air among other benefits. (Click here to read the letter and see a list of signatories).
Among the signatories is the Overlea Fullerton Business and Professionals Association, which counts over 70 businesses and professionals among its members. Though wind power will result in a small initial bump in energy costs by 2017, Donna Bethke, President of the Association asserts that the group supports the legislation because “the small business community understands the importance of smart, forward-thinking investments towards energy cost stability.”
Another signatory, Dan “The Hubcap Man” Saller, owner of Hubcap City in Overlea gave a similar rationale for his support. Speaking on a press conference call recently, Saller likened the initiative to investments that he has already made in his own business. “One of the best decisions that I've made from a business perspective was to invest in energy efficiency and greener energy for my shop… since it meant I would end up saving on my energy bills. That’s basically my perspective on wind power as well.”
Support isn’t limited to local businesses. An additional 200 small businesses statewide have signed on to letters of support for offshore wind since 2011, and a recent hearing for the wind bill saw local chambers of commerce, business consortia, and entrepreneurs all testifying in favor of the bill.
The Maryland business community has voted yes for offshore wind. Now it’s time for Maryland lawmakers to do the same and pass the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012.
Do you support the creation of offshore wind farms in Maryland? Tell us why or why not in the comments.