Petty politics defeats wind offshore Maryland. Can a third bid succeed? Will Gov. O’Malley even try?
“Petty political grudges” in Maryland’s Senate Finance Committee are to blame for the failure of the General Assembly to establish the mechanism to incent and pay for one of the first networks of offshore wind turbines anywhere off a U.S. coastline.
That’s the way Chesapeake Climate Action Network Executive Director Mike Tidwell put it in an email today to supporters in the worlds of faith, labor, civil rights, business health and the environmental activism who lobbied hard for the second consecutive year with Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Tidwell did not point fingers but as The Energy Fix reported and tweeted here during the past two weeks, much of the focus was on one state senator who could have broken a 5-5 deadlock over the the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012: Anthony Muse of Prince Georges County. Muse stymied similar legislation in 2011.
Will a third time be the charm? Will Martin O’Malley want to invest the political capital and risk striking out in 2013 as he ponders a race for President in 2016?
If the answer to the latter is no, then offshore wind in Maryland, and probably the entire mid-Atlantic coast, is dead for the foreseeable future. And nothing on the horizon would seem to inject the additional supported needed given the state of politics in Annapolis.
The defeat came after about 500 activists virtually surrounded the Capitol building April 3 in a show / circle of support which included O’Malley for Senate Bill 237. The House of Delegates passed similar legislation 88-47 March 30.
The companies that would have comprised a once-promising line-up of developers, financiers, turbine blade makers and parts manufacturers may have been lost — along with the political muscle to make offshore wind a reality anywhere in the region.
Gamesa Technology Corp. and the shipbuilding operations of Northrop Grumman Corp. launched an “Offshore Wind Technology Center” in Chesapeake, Va., in early 2011 to jointly develop the next generation of offshore wind systems. A spokesperson for neither company could be reached about whether the failure of wind proposals in Delaware, New Jersey and now Maryland could change their original plans to produce North America’s first offshore wind turbines by late 2012.