Poll: MDers willing to pay more for offshore wind
A new poll says 62 percent of Marylanders favor putting huge wind turbines off Ocean City and would be willing to pay as much as $2 per month on their electric bills for it.
The poll done by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies of Arnold was paid for by environmental groups which favor offshore wind development in Maryland. It was released the day before the opening of an offshore wind industry conference in Baltimore, at which Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to reiterate his support.
With backing from environmentalists, labor and some clean-energy businesses, O'Malley attemped to spur offshore wind development by pushing a bill that would require the state's utilities to sign long-term contracts to buy the electricity generated by turbines placed a dozen miles or so off the coast. But lawmakers tabled the legislation for more study amid questions about how much ratepayers would have to pay.
O'Malley is expected to renew his push for offshore wind in the General Assembly next year. Supporters say the poll shows he has public backing.
"These poll results couldn’t be more clear," said Mike Tidwell, head of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, one of the groups that paid for the poll " Maryland voters want the General Assembly to bring offshore wind power to the state. Marylanders understand that the benefits of offshore wind are more than worth a modest initial investment."
According to the pollsters, 62 percent of those who responded to the survey agreed that they would be willing to pay $2 more a month on their electric bill to have a greater percentage of their power from "clean, local" wind turbines rather than from coal, oil and gas.
The support was statewide, with 55 percent backing it on the Eastern Shore in in Southern Maryland, 62 percent in Baltimore's suburbs, 67 percent in the DC 'burbs and 75 percent in Baltimore city. Pollsters said paying up to $2 more for wind-generated electricity also won favor from 75 percent of African-Americans surveyed.
UPDATE: A second poll released today, done for the developer of a new offshore wind transmission grid, finds even stronger public support for putting turbines off the coast - especially if it means the new industry would bring jobs to Maryland.
The survey, done by Frederick Poll for the Atlantic Wind Connection, finds 77 percent of those questioned favor developing wind power off the Maryland coast Sixty-eight percent - including 51 percent of the Republicans surveyed - agreed with the statement that they want elected officials to push offshore wind, even if it initially costs more. Seventy-four percent want offshore wind transmission built, even if it also costs more.
(Wind turbines off the UK coast, Getty Images)