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September 21, 2010

Offshore wind gathering steam in OC

Supporters of putting wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean a dozen miles off Ocean City are winning over some of the beach resort town's business leaders.

Environment Maryland released a letter this week urging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to relax federal rules to speed the approval of offshore wind projects.   The missive was signed by eight OC business owners or representatives, including the head of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association.

The environmental group, normally no fan of relaxing regulations, is planning a town hall meeting in Ocean City on Thursday to talk up offshore wind.   It'll be at 6:30 pm at St. Paul's-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 302 N. Baltimore Ave.

The near-shore oceans along the U.S. coastline have strong and steady enough winds that turbines built offshore could generate up to 4,150 gigawatts of electricity, according to a recent report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  That's about four times the nation's current electricity generating capacity from all energy sources.  The report qualified its assessment by noting that some areas may be off-limits for turbines because of "environmental, human use or technical considerations." 

While turbines have been put offshore in Europe and China, none has been planted off the U.S. coast yet, though the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts recently won long-fought-over approval.  Maryland has joined with other Mid-Atlantic states in seeking to collaborate on offshore wind development.  But the state has yet to complete its own environmental and feasibility assessment for placing turbines off Ocean City and Assateague Island.

(Offshore wind turbines near the Donghai Bridge in Shanghai, China, AP photo, March 2010)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 3:00 PM | | Comments (7)


I'm in favor of the wind projects. But I've also wondered why people with beach houses don't all put photovoltaic solar systems on their roofs? There's plenty of sun, and since they are mostly empty in the off-season, grid-connected systems might actually make money for the homeowners as their meters run backward. Seems like a huge entrepreneurial opportunity.

John, google map of the miami area of florida, the richers houses in the bay area west of the beaches. where all the stars live. zoom in and see how many PV arrays you see. So few you will be a while finding the first. and THESE people can afford them and are not using them.

Yet many tell us all how we should live.

What about on-shore wind power? There are opportunities for placing wind turbines on the bayside of the eastern shore which is easier to build and closer to population and infrastrcuture. Check out the NREL website for wind data maps.

I am all for wind-powered energy. Just make sure that the turbines are situated away from avian migration routes.

I too appreciate increased interest in these wind-renewable projects. And while I only follow these as a layman - I am pretty sure the 'reversing' of home power meters in MD is not currently possible (pun intended...). Perhaps someone should be checking to be sure all the new BGE meters being replaced soon, allow that. THAT would be a useful public service.

Curious as to when someone is going to talk with the military and commercial aviation representatives about the potential impact the wind blades might have on aircraft radar. It is possible that the radars can pick up the tips of the blades moving at about 160 -180 miles per hour and mistake them for another aircraft on radar. Both military and commercial aviation travel off of MD's coast as part of the Atlantic Flyway.

Maryland does not pay you for electricity that your solar cells produce but your home does not use. The home owner will receive credits from BG&E for supplying and using "green" electricity.

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About the bloggers
Tim WheelerTim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay. A native of West Virginia, he has focused mainly on Maryland's environment since moving here in 1983. Along the way, he's crewed aboard a skipjack in the bay, canoed under city streets up the Jones Fall from the Inner Harbor, and gone deep underground in a western Maryland coal mine. He loves seafood, rambles in the country and good stories. He hopes to share some here.

Contributor Christy Zuccarini has been blogging about the local DIY craft scene for a year for She brings her pespective on all things handmade to B'More Green, where she will highlight projects you can do yourself as well as crafters who are integrating sustainable methods and materials.

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