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Md. wind projects promise renewable energy progress, thousands of jobs

The expansion of offshore wind projects announced Tuesday will make Maryland a leader in the industry “for decades to come,” Gov. Larry Hogan predicts. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

The development of offshore wind in Maryland was propelled forward on Tuesday, as the company responsible for a wind farm project off the coast of Ocean City announced both an expansion to that project as well as the creation of a new steel facility in Baltimore County.

The US Wind, Inc., projects are anticipated to bring thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars to the state and solidify Maryland’s place as a leader in the offshore wind industry.

The new facility, an offshore wind deployment hub, will be at Tradepoint Atlantic in Baltimore County, at the former location of Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard, which is leasing 90 acres of space to US Wind. The hub will include a new steel fabrication facility, which will create bases, called monopiles, that connect wind turbines with the sea floor.

The project, to which US Wind will contribute $150 million on top of the money already going towards leasing the space at Tradepoint Atlantic, is Maryland’s first manufacturing facility dedicated to creating these parts. Known as Sparrows Point Steel, the fabrication facility will be built concurrently with the Momentum Wind expansion, which will add up to 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind energy to US Wind’s existing Maryland wind farm project, MarWin.

The company first acquired the 80,000 acres on which MarWin is located in 2014; in 2017, it was awarded Offshore Renewable Energy Credits from the state of Maryland to begin constructing the project in 2017. MarWin, which is slated to begin producing energy in 2024, will include no more than 22 turbines delivering approximately 270 megawatts of renewable energy — enough to power nearly 80,000 homes, according to US Wind.

Momentum Wind is anticipated to include 82 wind turbines and will be able to satisfy that state’s offshore wind energy goals and make significant progress towards its renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals.

“Because of the successes we’ve achieved in the development of MarWin, US Wind is ready to offer Maryland its most ambitious clean energy project to date and, with it, the state’s first permanent offshore wind steel fabrication facility,” said Jeff Grybowski, CEO of US Wind, which is majority-owned by Renexia SpA, a renewable energy company based in Italy and a subsidiary of Toto Holding SpA.

“Developing Momentum Wind and Sparrows Point Steel at full capacity,” he said, “will give Maryland the opportunity to bring steel back to Baltimore and become the epicenter of offshore wind manufacturing.”

Kerry Doyle, managing director at Tradepoint Atlantic, called the return of steel to Sparrows Point “a full-circle moment for Tradepoint Atlantic.”

The construction of Momentum Wind will create 3,500 jobs, while the operations of the wind farm will produce 100. Meanwhile, Sparrows Point Still will support over 500 permanent manufacturing jobs in the state, generating more than $1 billion in income over 20 years. The factory is also expected to increase Maryland’s GDP by $6.9 billion in the same time frame.

US Wind has committed to hiring local skilled laborers in the construction of both Momentum Wind and Sparrows Point Steel. The company will also partner with United Steelworkers, a national skilled trade union with over a million members that started as a union of Bethlehem Steel workers, on the Sparrows Point Steel project.

“Sparrows Point has always been hallowed ground for me and my fellow Steelworkers,” said Jim Strong, assistant to the director at United Steelworkers. “We’re thrilled to be a part of US Wind’s visionary plans to bring steel back to Baltimore, back to this hallowed ground. US Wind is committed to supporting thousands of family-sustaining union jobs and we couldn’t be happier to be partnering with them on this new venture.”

State and local leaders, including Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Baltimore County Executive Johnny A. Olszewski Jr. lauded the coming projects both for bringing jobs into the area, as well as expanding the state’s renewable energy capabilities.

“The state of Maryland is proud to support this transformative and game-changing partnership between US Wind and Tradepoint Atlantic, two of the leaders of Maryland’s economic turnaround,” said Hogan. “Offshore wind presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to expand and diversify our economy and our energy portfolio. Maryland is proud to continue to be an example of strong environmental leadership, and I am confident that we will be a leader in offshore wind development for decades to come.”

 


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