Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) continued his quest to win lawmakers’ support for his plan to spur an offshore wind-power industry, arguing Thursday that the environmental and economic benefits would outweigh the cost to ratepayers.
“It is projected that offshore wind could put 1,300 moms and dads to work during the five-year construction period. After that it will directly support 250 permanent jobs and indirectly support 230 more,” O’Malley told members of the House Economic Matters Committee.
Pitching what he called a “better bill than the one I had before you last year,” O’Malley took cordial but pointed questions from lawmakers.
Several raised concerns about the plan to make residential ratepayers pay about $2 more per month, starting in 2017, to subsidize offshore wind-power generation.
The cost to nonresidential energy customers, such as grocery stores and manufacturers, also prompted questions to O’Malley and Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration.
Del. Joseph J. Minnick (D-Baltimore County) said RG Steel, a manufacturer in his district, pays a $30 million monthly utility bill. “I want to know how this bill is going to affect their bottom line,” he said.
Woolf told Minnick that companies such as RG Steele could benefit from an industry that requires skyscraper-like wind turbines. “These are huge machines. RG Steel is uniquely situated to make the steel,” he said.
O’Malley, Woolf and Abby Hopper, an energy adviser for the governor, fielded questions from lawmakers for almost an hour after their testimony in a packed hearing room in Annapolis.
The governor’s testimony came a little over a week after a similar presentation to a key Senate committee.