Trips to the Netherlands and a very long boat trip off the coast of Ocean City are among the steps Maryland officials have taken to prepare for offshore wind.

During a meeting with the House Appropriations Committee last week, representatives from several agencies discussed how they are working to implement what could become the country’s first offshore wind farm.

In addition to having a boat scan the ocean floor and observe sea creatures for more than a month, the Maryland Energy Administration has signed a partnership with the Netherlands.

“I think Maryland has catapulted itself to the front of the line, because of the legislation that the general assembly passed,” said Abigail Hopper, director of the administration.

The legislation she’s referring to was the passage of a bill last year that began the long journey toward offshore wind in the U.S.

Because the area where about 40 turbines will be constructed is in federal waters, the federal government handles the leasing process.

The auction is taking place though mid-February.

“The federal government says ‘yes, you can develop,’ then the state process is the mechanism though which we finance the project,” Hopper said.

“We’ll know soon who the developers are for our wind energy area,” she said.

Cooperation with the federal government continues through a metaphorical alphabet soup of federal agencies.

The energy administration is also working with pretty much every other state agency as well as Ocean City, Worcester County and Lower Shore state officials to understand concerns about the project as well as to realize the benefits.

Amid questions about the total price tag and how much the energy would cost for consumers, Hopper said, the state has the authority.

Source: Delmarvanow.com