The Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill that could increase taxpayers monthly electricity bills anywhere from $2.00 (as the governor says) to as high as $9.00 a month (critics say) in order to require power companies to rely more on wind power for their customers. Keith Harrington is the Field Director of the grassroots organization Chesapeake Climate Action Network is leading an organizing effort to build community support for the bill here in Prince George’s County. One of their key targets is State Senator C. Anthony Muse (D-26).
A similar bill proposed by the governor was killed last year in the legislative session.
Prince George’s Businesses Support Offshore Wind
In the debate whirling around Governor O’Malley’s offshore wind energy legislation, one of the top questions in the mix concerns whether the plan to build a 310 MW wind farm off Maryland’s coast would be good for the state’s small businesses. The good news is that several studies contend that the answer is “yes.” A report recently released by the Maryland Energy Administration found that the state could become a manufacturing hub for offshore wind development and the Department of Business and Economic Development has found that this one offshore wind project could bring over two billion dollars in net economic benefits to the state during construction.
Of course, it’s all well and good for the government to make projections. But what do the people on the ground, the small business owners who really know the pulse of the local economy think about offshore wind?
To get a good read on the situation, advocates for Marylanders for Offshore Wind have hit the streets to talk to small business owners and managers, and after a few weeks of door-to-door outreach the answer is in: small businesses from Seat Pleasant, to District Heights, to Fort Washington strongly support the wind initiative. Indeed, no less than 60 local small businesses have recently signed on to a letter endorsing offshore wind as a good investment for economic development, longer term energy-price stability, and healthier air, among other benefits. (Click here to read the letter and see a list of signatories)
Among the signatories is Greg Hall owner of Go Enterprises in Seat Pleasant. Like the other signatories on the letter, Hall dismissed concerns that offshore wind power will result in a small bump in energy costs when the wind turbines come on line in 2017. “I think common sense just tells you that our energy prices are going to keep rising if we stay hooked on oil and gas and other fuels like that,” Hall said. “If we’re going to keep our bills down we’ve got to start investing in green energy like offshore wind. Clean energy is our future.”
Hall’s sentiment was echoed by Vicki Roy, manager of Top Line Pools in Fort Washington. “Anyone who works in small business can tell you that to keep your doors open you’ve got to make smart decisions that focus not just on the here and now but on the longer term. That’s why we support this wind energy bill, because it does that.”
Support isn’t limited to local businesses. Over 200 additional small businesses statewide have signed on to letters of support for offshore wind since 2011, and a recent hearing for the wind bill saw local chambers of commerce, business consortia, and entrepreneurs all testifying in favor of the bill.
The Prince George’s business community has voted yes for offshore wind. Now it’s time for our local lawmakers to do the same and pass the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012.
Keith Harrington is the Maryland Field Director for the the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and other online publications.
Follow Keith Harrington on Twitter: @kharring
Follow Marylanders for Offshore Wind on Twitter: @MDoffshoreWind