Chairman Davis, Members of the Committee,… thanks for the opportunity to join you here today.
Progress is a choice; job creation is a choice; strengthening and growing our middle class is a choice; creating a more secure, more predictable, and more sustainable energy future,…. these things are also choices.
To create jobs and to create a more secure energy future for our State, our Administration has set fourth four, enterprise-wide energy goals, all of which are connected and mutually reinforcing: creating and saving jobs in our State’s emerging green-tech sector, reducing electricity consumption, pumping fewer greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, and increasing our Renewable Portfolio Standard.
Together, these goals provide the unifying direction to our State’s energy policies. They all work with each other. No one can be attained without progress toward the others.
Therefore, as we consider the merits of moving forward with off-shore wind power, there are three questions we might ask ourselves:
Are we better positioned to meet these goals with or without off-shore wind?
Do we believe that global climate change is real?
Do we believe the prices of fossil fuels might very well go up rather than down over the long-term?
It is my belief that the answers to all three of these questions demand that we move forward with the legislation you consider today. In this context, I want to take the opportunity to lay out why our Administration has determined it is in the best interest for job creation, for our planet, and for our families.
THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR JOB CREATION
Today, we import 40% of our State’s electricity from out-of-state. Marylanders pay a hefty price for the resulting congestion on our grid,… literally. Last year we paid $270 million in congestion charges tacked onto our bills each years. We also pay in the missed opportunities for job creation as we support other states’ economies instead of our own.
Advancing homegrown electricity generation is therefore in our State’s economic interest.
It would make no more sense for Maryland to give preferential treatment to energy that we largely import from other states, than it would for the federal government to fill its fleet with Kia’s and Honda’s instead of Chevrolet’s and Ford’s.
The bill you consider today is projected to put 1,300 moms and dads to work during the five year construction period. After that it will directly support 250 permanent jobs, and indirectly support 230 more – a total of 480 good, local jobs.
By reducing the amount of energy we import, we have the opportunity to become a leader in manufacturing all the components that go into getting turbines spinning. We have the Advanced Manufacturing workforce, infrastructure, and know-how to establish Maryland as the regional hub for wind energy supply chain manufacturing. But in order to compete, we have to lead.
THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR OUR PLANET
So offshore wind power is clearly a net benefit to our goals for green job creation. It will also help us advance the goals we’ve set for reducing greenhouse emissions and improving the health of and safety of our people.
The legislation you consider would prevent as much as one million fewer tons of climate change-causing pollution pumped into our atmosphere.
Why? Because every megawatt we generate of wind, is a megawatt we do not generate from imported fossil fuels.
Fewer fossil fuels burned into our air also means fewer moms and dads with lung disease and fewer children with asthma.
THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR OUR FAMILIES
The advantages for jobs, public health, and the health of our planet will all benefit Maryland’s families. So too will the benefits for consumers.
Every Marylander pays higher electricity today, in part because congestion on our grid is baked into the price of electricity. Decrease congestion with homegrown energy – wind, nuclear, natural gas and so forth – and we decrease our bills.
What’s more, unlike fossil fuels, wind energy carries a fixed, stable, affordable rate that we can lock-in over time.
To further protect consumers, we’ve built a number of consumer protections into the bill. In order to move forward, developers have to pitch the ball within a certain "strike zone:"
Ratepayers shall not be charged for wind energy generation until the turbines start spinning. That’s five years away at a minimum. Until then, this bill doesn’t add a dime to energy bills.
By law, the Public Service Commission will be required to keep any projected increases in our families’ electric bills down to no more than $2 per month. A recent poll found that 64% of Marylanders say they’d be willing to pay an extra $2 per month for offshore wind.
By law, the Public Service Commission will be required to keep any projected increases in commercial and industrial bills down to no more than two and half percent.
Developers – not ratepayers – will pay the cost of any overruns.
Let me conclude, with the three questions with which I opened. If we believe that climate change is real, wind helps us make one million tons of progress. If we believe that fossil fuel prices will remain volatile in the decades to come, wind helps us hedge against potential price spikes. And if we care about making progress towards the goals we set for green job creation, decreasing electricity consumption, reducing greenhouse emissions, and increasing our renewable portfolio standard,… then we are ultimately much better off generating wind in Maryland than importing more electricity from out of State.