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OPINION: Local Businesses Support Offshore Wind Power

Group says that grassroots support for offshore wind power is growing among local business owners.

The following article was submitted for consideration as an editorial by Keith Harrington, Maryland Field Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

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.

Jeffrey Smith March 09, 2012 at 05:50 PM
For those Patch readers who have an interest in this issue, please see the column I recently wrote: http://perryhall.patch.com/articles/breezing-our-way-to-good-jobs-for-marylanders
kevin March 09, 2012 at 06:34 PM
People should understand there is one business model for offshore wind farming and it is in Ireland has been there since 1994. The result the largest investor a man with 64 billion dollars went bankrupt.True he speculated in banking but his assets in wind farms failed .The turbines can't be warrantied that is a fact .This is all alchemy ,yes you can turn wind into power however it costs too much .Please people wake up this is like snake oil. Go on line look up the wind farms in Galway bay oils must cost $200.00 a barrel in today's prices for these to break even ,the turbines can't be given a warranty so you will never recover your cost.Also it is proven the sound they give off destroys bat senses and when you magnify that times sound over water it will just be a matter of time before they are shut down .Don't fall for this >
Keith Harrington March 09, 2012 at 07:13 PM
@kevin. I encourage you to read the bill and read up a bit more on Europe's history with offshore wind power. The bill caps the bump in energy bill costs at no more than 2% - no projects can be approved that will raise prices more than that. Further the fact of the matter is fossil fuel prices are on a historic upward trend (Maryland energy costs have doubled in the last decade) while wind power costs have been trending downwards. Iowa now gets 20 percent of it's energy from wind and it's cheaper there now than conventional energy because they brought the industry to scale. Further, it's not just Ireland that has offshore wind. There are over 2 offshore wind farms in Europe and farms popping up off the coast of China as well. Also, bats don't tend to fly 10 miles off the coast. And Europe has had zero experience with impacts on bird species in 20 years of operating offshore wind. So please everyone, do follow Kevin's advice and read up on the rest of the world's experience. The facts support this initiative.
Kathleen March 10, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Maryland has a chance to take advantage of the geology off the east coast. We are lucky - most states don't have this advantage. Let's not pass this by. A 2% increase in cost when the offshore wind farms are built is out weighted by the advantage of long term stable costs (we end up paying less.than for coal) and of course reducing the ravaging of the earths limited fossil resources. Don't be stuck in the short term, look ahead twenty, thirty or more years
ImForWind March 11, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Maryland needs a comprehensive energy policy consisting of all proven and reliable sources including geothermal, hydro, solar, wind, and nuclear. No one solution will meet everyones needs all of the time. I am frustrated with our continued dependence upon foreign oil and the rapid fluctuations in energy costs occuring due to political instability. Off-shore (and land based) wind farms have proven for over a decade to be reliable and cost effective. In Maryland we already have a successful wind farm in Western Maryland and will have one of the largest solar installations in the country in Emmitsburg this year. One just has to see the growing number of solar panels on residential rooftops to understand that as technologies continue to rapidly evolve (especially wind and solar) Marylanders should embrace these new opportunities for the jobs (direct and indirect), careers, and energy stability they offer.
Kelican March 11, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Harrington is right. Fortunately, wind power savings have been documented for many years. Technology of 2012 is a realistic addition to energy solutions. (and of course 20yr old alternative energies differed from those of today.) We need to provide - and have the capability of providing - multiple energy solutions. We already have proven wind energy logic in other parts of Maryland. Solar energy is growing in use in Maryland, too.
Kelican March 11, 2012 at 05:53 PM
We understand recycling, we can see all the solar panels popping up in our communities, and we understand the value of replacing non-renewable energy resources. We we should embrace this kind of wind power. The oil leaks we hear in the news are only the epic ones. We need this wind power to contribute to the alternative energies that Maryland offers.
Get Windpower March 11, 2012 at 05:59 PM
We need more wind power. The wind is there whether we are smart enough to harness it or not. This effort creates jobs long and short term and give us more energy choices. Please read the modern, updated wind energy cases and not some antiquated article.
The Truth March 11, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Yes-creating Maryland jobs and offering alternative energy choices sounds good to me. I'd vote for someone who is promoting this wind energy. We'd be crazy not to ready and fully understand Mr. Harrington's article. The data speaks the truth.
Bringing Jobs to Maryland March 11, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I hope the leadership understands the value of this wind energy. It's not just the peace of mind that comes with non-nuclear, non-petroleum dependent energy, it's the JOBS that it will create. Read the studies and you will support this article, too.
ImForWind March 12, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Kevin, not sure why you mentioned several times that off-shore wind turbines cannot be warrantied. They most certainly can be. Siemens one of the largest manufacturers of off-shore wind turbines offers a comprehensive guarantee. All current manufacturers offer warranties and all companies provide insurance for the installations as well. Solar was considered to costly as well but now you frequently see installations. Technology has brought prices down rapidly while improving reliability and efficiency.
kevin April 02, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Okay let's talk truth here .You say I'm wrong about warranties yet you fail to mention the failed offshore tubines and cancelled warranties .IMfor Wind please identify the failure and cancelation of turbines in the north Sea.Be honest they are on the internet plus the failed siemens turbines which they have found out the problem and will be able to fix. Until you honestly address the failures you are flat out lying. .I don't think your doing this intentionally I believe you are just buying the kool aid.I Happen to have relatives who work on the Galway Bay wind farms ,Well did before half were laid off due to recent financial collapse. Here is another fact that the recent NFMT convention downtown revealed look at what these companies are claiming as gospel. Most green companies as your mentioned Siemen states they warranty wind turbines for twenty years yet it will take by all consulting companies involved thirty years before initial costs can be recovered . Also the failed turbines in areas around the world that failed after 5 to 7years engineers stated OOPS couldn't know these things would happen .Hey I get it O'Malley has employed you guys to get greener I guess Marylanders are just supposed to be like the SNL skit where the Chinese premier who confronts on how Obama is going to pay back his loans with GREEN jobs and bends over.This is a PC hustle and Marylanders are going to be stuck paying for it .really I guess I shouldn't care I'm moving as soon as I can retire .

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