Maryland regulators OK nation's largest offshore wind plan

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Two projects had been vying for approval, and in an unexpected decision officials gave both the green light, saying the approvals will would "position Maryland as a national leader in offshore wind energy".

The financing package for the project is thought to be the largest for an offshore wind farm, amounting to a total investment of €2.8bn (US$3bn) for the construction alone.

Skipjack is behind the United States' only offshore wind project constructed to date, the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island.

In an effort to continue spurring offshore wind in the country, U.S. Sens.

MPSC Chairman W. Kevin Hughes, said, "We have taken great care to ensure that this decision maximizes economic and environmental benefits to the state while minimizing costs to Maryland ratepayers".

The partnership of the two companies is expected to bring extensive wind expertise and substantial financial firepower to the Commonwealth's initiative to build offshore wind projects in MA.

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They also expect the offshore wind farm to make a significant contribution to meeting the Netherlands' renewable energy targets. "Offshore wind is coming to the Atlantic Coast, and we want to be part of this exciting new industry".

The commission attached dozens of conditions to its approval, including requiring the companies to create almost 5,000 jobs related directly to development of the projects and invest $76 million in a Maryland steel plant, $39.6 million toward port upgrades at a shipyard near Baltimore and $12 million to the state's Offshore Wind Business Development Fund.

Skipjack estimates opening its operation near the end of 2022.

The companies will be required to use port facilities in the Baltimore region and Ocean City for construction, operations and maintenance, fund nearly $40 million in upgrades at the Tradepoint Atlantic (formerly Sparrows Point) shipyard in Baltimore County and invest at least $76 million in a steel fabrication plant in the state (Case No. 9431).

The PSC said the two projects are expected to yield more than $1.8 billion of in-state spending. The developers must invest collectively at least US$76 million in a steel fabrication plant in Maryland and together fund at least US$39.6 million to support port upgrades at the Tradepoint Atlantic (formerly Sparrows Point) shipyard in Baltimore County.

"I believe this decision creates tremendous opportunities for Maryland", commissioner Michael T. Richard said in a statement.