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Report: Wind energy would be economic powerhouse for U.S., Maryland

A report released Thursday by the National Wildlife Federation says offshore wind energy would be an “economic powerhouse” in the United States.

The study says 75,000 people already work in the United States’ offshore wind industry, a number that could swell to 300,000 and result in $200 billion in new economic activity. In Maryland, enough energy could be generated from a fully implemented offshore wind program to meet 67 percent of the state’s need, the report says.

“America’s East Coast is an ideal location for offshore wind energy because of the region’s high electricity demand and population density,” the report says.

It goes on to say that offshore wind protects “American households and businesses from the volatility of fossil fuel prices.” Natural gas prices are, however, now at unprecedented lows.

In Maryland, legislation that would create an incentive for energy companies to operate wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City failed in back-to-back sessions of the General Assembly. Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to include offshore wind legislation in his agenda again in 2013.

Six companies — enXco Development Corp., Fishermen’s Energy LLC, RES Americas Developments Inc., Energy Management Inc., Arcadia Offshore Maryland LLC and Orisol Energy Inc. — have expressed interest in signing a lease to operate turbines in Maryland. Leases could be issued in 2013.

The state has a renewable energy portfolio requirement that 20 percent of the state’s energy be generated by renewable sources by 2022, a sliver of which is expected to be generated by wind turbines.