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Md. agencies partner on surveys for offshore wind

Days after Virginia announced it would begin surveying ocean floor in preparation for a potential offshore wind energy program, two Maryland agencies have partnered to accelerate environmental surveys necessary for the development of offshore wind.

The Maryland Energy Administration and Department of Natural Resources announced Friday they would use money set aside during last year’s Exelon Corp. and Constellation Energy Group merger settlement to expand DNR’s coastal and survey work.

On Wednesday, Virginia announced plans to explore ocean floor 27 miles off Virginia Beach, a 133-square mile area in a federally designated wind development zone.

Governments spend money to survey possible offshore wind farms because companies already face tremendous costs in developing, transporting and installing turbines. A federal tax credit for such companies is set to expire this year.

In a statement, acting energy Director Abigail Ross Hopper said offshore wind would “bring numerous benefits to the state, including homegrown clean energy, sustainable jobs, reduced public health costs, lowered greenhouse gas emissions and significant progress towards meeting our renewable energy portfolio standard.”

“The environmental surveys are the next step forward in order to ensure that offshore wind energy generation comes to Maryland,” she said.