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Maryland approves two offshore wind farms

Maryland approves two offshore wind farms
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Maryland energy regulators approved two offshore wind farm projects to be built off the state’s coast.

The projects by U.S. Wind Inc. and Skipjack Offshore Energy would have a combined 368 megawatts of capacity with 77 turbines at least 14 miles off the coast, Maryland’s Public Service Commission said.

They would be the second and third utility-scale offshore wind farms in United States waters, after the Block Island Wind Farm opened last year off Rhode Island’s coast with five turbines.

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“We have taken great care to ensure that this decision maximizes economic and environmental benefits to the state while minimizing costs to Maryland ratepayers,” PSC Chairman Kevin Hughes said in a statement.

“I believe this decision creates tremendous opportunities for Maryland,” PSC Commissioner Michael Richard said in the statement.

“It enables us to meet our clean, renewable energy goals using energy generated within the state while conditioning our approval on holding project developers to their promises of creating jobs and spurring economic growth.”

PSC’s approval allows the companies to sell renewable energy credits of $131.93 per megawatt-hour the farms generate for 20 years. The body expects residential electricity rates to rise $1.40 per month due to the approvals.

U.S. Wind is a subsidiary of Renexia, an Italian renewable energy company that has won numerous federal auctions for offshore wind rights in the United States.

Skipjack is a unit of Deepwater Wind, the same company behind the Block Island project that opened last year.

Officials in Ocean City, Md., a tourist destination near the planned wind farms, have been concerned throughout the planning process that the turbines would be unsightly and reduce tourism and have pushed for them to be as far away from the shore as possible.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan told the Baltimore Sun he’s worried by the plans that were approved.

“It appears this visual impact is much greater than what was originally anticipated,” he said. “Wherever we have the opportunity, we will certainly make our case for relocating these particular projects to be further off shore.”