BALTIMORE, April 13 (UPI) -- The wind energy profile for U.S. states bordering the Atlantic Ocean may get a boost if a Maryland bill is approved, an industry group said.
Maryland lawmakers sent a bill to Gov. Larry Hogan's desk calling for the state to get 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources within four years. Tom Kiernan, the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said the bill, if passed, would be a potential big step forward for regional wind momentum.
"Maryland's leadership on clean energy has already led to significant employment and improvements in air quality," he said in a statement. "These benefits can continue, and wind is among the biggest, fastest, cheapest options to get this job done."
The Maryland Energy Administration focuses on wind energy developments at the residential and commercial level with a state-wide grant program. Offshore, there are no wind farms in commercial operations in the United States, though the sector is developing.
State law requires 20 percent of the electricity to be generated by renewables by 2022.
Deepwater Wind, one of the developers behind the Block Island wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island, started construction on turbine foundations last year. Last month, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced consent for the first wind energy research facility offshore Virginia. The research plan envisions the installation of two 6-megawatt turbines, which could generate enough power to meet the annual demands of 3,000 homes.
According to the AWEA, the entire U.S. wind energy industry could provide up to 20 percent of the nation's electricity by 2030 if trends continue. U.S. lawmakers last year extended tax credits to support the industry.
Wind energy development up and down the New England coast has been met with opposition from preservationists worried about the potential threat to coastal habitats and aesthetics.