O’Malley wind bill wins key supporter, but vote still uncertain

With less than one week remaining in Maryland’s General Assembly session, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has won support from a key House lawmaker in his effort to spur the development of one of the nation’s first offshore wind farms. Del. Dereck Davis (D-Prince George’s), who chairs the House Economic Matters Committee, said Tuesday that he is prepared to vote for the governor’s offshore wind legislation and that there could be a committee vote on the bill as soon as Wednesday.

Davis cautioned, however, that he does not know whether there are sufficient votes on the committee to move the bill to the House floor. Senate lawmakers working on the bill will continue their discussions Wednesday morning.

O’Malley’s measure would require the state’s utilities to enter into long-term contracts to purchase offshore wind energy. The governor has struggled to gain traction with lawmakers because of the projected monthly fee for consumers, estimated at between $1.44 and $3.61.

But Davis said he became comfortable with the bill after the governor made changes to limit costs to no more than $2 a month per household in the first year of the program.

“The governor is on the right path with this,” Davis said. “We have to diversify our sources. ... We can’t continue to rely on coal-fired plants.”

While costs will increase in the short term, Davis said he agrees that there may be future savings for consumers.

“If we’re thinking long term and preparing for the future, this is the way to go,” he said.

Ann covers legal affairs in the District and Maryland for the Washington Post. Ann previously covered state government and politics in California, New Hampshire and Maryland. She joined the Post in 2005.

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