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Maryland's legislature is getting an early start in examining incentives for offshore wind energy. Last year, Governor Martin O'Malley (D) pushed a plan to incentivize offshore wind farms by adding a few dollars to monthly electric bills.
But that incentive failed to pass, in part, because it was introduced so late in the legislative session. Democrats and Republican lawmakers alike had too many unanswered questions about how it would work and if the costs would be low enough for consumers to bear.
"It'd be about the cost of a cup of coffee a month in the early years, and then that cost disappears by year 10 or 15," says Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Tidwell and other environmentalists have been strong supporters of wind power for the state
Now, legislators are examining the issue even before the session gets started by holding a series of briefings. Environmental leaders, including Tidwell, hope this will allow lawmakers to see the benefits of offshore wind power.
"We'll create 3,000 new jobs, and save the state $4 billion in estimated health costs in the next 25 years," Tidwell says.
He also claims the effort will prevent nearly 700 premature deaths, due to clean air issues. Legislators will be examining those claims -- and the costs -- over the next few months.