Talking green and walking green are two completely separate activities and rare is the company that can master both. The fight to bring offshore wind to Maryland illustrates this point perfectly. There are literally dozens of energy suppliers listed on the Maryland Public Service Commission website, and most offer some form of green energy as an option. But how many will come out to lobby for Governor O'Malley's offshore wind bill? Besides Clean Currents, the answer is likely to be zero.
This is a troubling phenomenon. Many in the public may purchase wind power from companies that work to prevent laws that would spur rapid growth of wind. This issue is too important to gloss over. Scientists (and our own experience) tell us that the climate is rapidly changing at the same time the concentration of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is rapidly accumulating in our atmosphere. We need to move as quickly as we can to reduce our use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas while increasing our use of zero emission renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Consumers are leading the way with more and more people buying wind power for their homes, businesses, schools, faith institutions and non profits. Indeed, the voluntary market is responsible for much of the growth of the wind industry in recent years. But to make the transition from fossil fuels as rapidly as we need to, we need forward looking laws that mandate more renewable energy use.
I'm proud to have been one of the authors of Maryland's landmark Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) back in 2004. It set a framework with clear rules and mandates, and let the free market do the rest. The offshore wind bill fits squarely into this framework. It will require any company that sells electricity in Maryland to get a certain percentage of power from offshore wind projects. This requirement gives the offshore wind developers the assurance they need to get financing to build their projects.
The cost is minimal (maximum $1.50/month for a resident). The potential economic benefits are huge. Unlike other products, the supply chain for wind turbines needs to exist close to the source of the projects, to keep transportation costs low. Thus, the bill offers a chance for good manufacturing jobs right here in Maryland. Combined with increased energy efficiency, developing wind power is a direct way to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. This is your classic, win-win proposition. No wonder that strong majorities of Marylanders support this bill, according to very recent polling.
This is the year Maryland can take a step forward towards a clean energy future and the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 is one giant leap in the right direction. Clean Currents fully supports this bill and we applaud Governor O'Malley's leadership in working to bring it to this point.
I call on other energy suppliers that supply green power to join us in standing firm with our colleagues in the environmental, faith, labor and business advocacy world in support of offshore wind power in Maryland. You can't be authentic if you sell wind power on the one hand, but do nothing to support, and sometimes actively oppose, the development of wind off Maryland's coast. I offer Clean Currents' help to educate the public about the importance of this bill and the importance of Maryland taking it's next big step towards a cleaner, greener, future free of the threat of climate change and air pollution.