The O'Malley administration invited Maryland's colleges and universities on Monday to bid for $2 million in grants to research issues around developing an offshore wind energy project off Ocean City.
The announcement by the Maryland Energy Administration and the Maryland Higher Education Commission comes on the eve of the first hearing in Annapolis on Gov. Martin O'Malley's offshore wind legislation. The House Economic Matters Committee is scheduled to take up the governor's bill, which would have the state's residential electricity ratepayers pay up to $1.50 a month to subsidize a 200-megawatt wind project, estimated to cost $1 billion or more.
The state is promoting research on offshore wind to address questions raised about the design, coordination and impacts of putting industrial-scale turbines on the Continental Shelf more than a dozen miles offshore. Although offshore wind has been in use in Europe for years, the Atlantic setting and US energy network may pose new issues to be addressed.
"The research gathered by these grants will not only help Maryland reap the benefits of offshore wind, but it will also cement Maryland's position as a leader in this new energy economy," Abigail Ross Hopper, acting director of the Energy Administration, said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Up to three grants ranging from $250,000 to $1 million are being offered to two- and four-year schools on a competitive basis. For more on the grants, go here.