Two new public opinion polls were released this week as evidence continued to show overwhelming support for offshore wind development in the State of Maryland. The strong support was shown for renewable energy projects that will create thousands of jobs and millions of capital investment in Maryland.
“Without question, offshore wind energy generation is a clear win for Marylanders,” said Greg Tucker, Head of Communications at US Wind. “These independent surveys make clear that the wind farms planned off Ocean City will not detour vacationers, nor do they represent a credible threat to real estate prices or property values in Ocean City. Wind energy is natural, clean, dependable, and efficient.”
Tucker said the US Wind project was mandated by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to create nearly 5,000 direct and indirect jobs across the state, including Ocean City and the Lower Eastern Shore. “We are creating a new industry for the State of Maryland, one that will last generations,” he added.
In a December of 2017, a survey conducted by OpinionWorks, polled residents of suburban Baltimore County and the Lower Eastern Shore about their support for or against offshore wind projects off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland, a vast majority of respondents – 69% in Baltimore County and 72% of Lower Eastern Shore – support the offshore wind project 17 miles from the Ocean City coastline. Notably, 40% of Baltimore County survey participants expressed strong support for the project and 38% of Lower Eastern Shore respondents indicated they are “strongly in favor.”
In a separate poll of over 800 Maryland residents, conducted by Gonzales Research & Media Services at the end of December 2017 and the first week of January 2018, a full 64% of respondents indicated that the planned offshore wind project would not affect their decision to either rent or buy a property in Ocean City. Of those polled, 16% said that having a view of the offshore wind farm would make them more likely to rent or buy a property in the coastal resort town.
In the same survey conducted by OpinionWorks, nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents support the expansion of the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by the year 2030. Approximately 50% of respondents in both regions supports this increase “strongly.” Alternatively, only 23% of respondents in both regions combined oppose an increase. Currently, Maryland State law requires that 25% of the State’s energy be produced by renewable energy sources by 2020.
Substantial majorities in regions across the state say that having a view of offshore wind turbines would have no bearing on their decision to rent or buy property in Ocean City. Baltimore City residents indicated by a 3 to 1 margin that they would be more likely to rent or buy property in the Ocean City community as a result of the wind turbines being present off the coast.
The Federal government has leased several “Wind Energy Areas” (WEA) in Federal waters for the development of a series of wind farms along the East Coast. The Maryland Wind Energy Area is an area located more than 10 miles off the Ocean City coast. With the passage of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 by the Maryland General Assembly, Maryland became the first state in the nation to create a market for offshore wind.
US Wind has begun the process of developing a 268-MW offshore wind project off the coast of Maryland, with completion expected in 2022. The scope of the planned project would be the first utility-scale offshore wind project in the U.S., requiring a private investment of approximately $2.5 billion to build and install approximately 32 offshore wind turbines 17 miles from shore. Additional wind capacity is possible within the Maryland WEA. An independent third-party management consulting firm hired by the Maryland Public Service Commission estimates that US Wind’s project will result in nearly $850 million of in-State economic impact, and the creation of over 4,000 full-time equivalents (FTE) jobs.
How the Opinion Works Poll was conducted.
The OpinionWorks poll was conducted from December 14th to December 26th, 2017. A total of 503 Interviews were conducted in Maryland Districts 8 and 38 (267 in District 8, 236 in District 38), representing the partisan and demographic makeup of each district within a potential margin of error of ±6.3% at the 95% confidence level. Live interviewers reached voters on both wireless and landline telephones, and a third group were given the option of responding online to ensure the poll best represented the electorate. Results for RPS expansion can be compared to our statewide poll conducted January 11-27, 2017 among 800 Maryland registered voters.
How the Gonzales Research & Media Services poll was conducted.
The Gonzales Research & Media Services poll was conducted from December 27th, 2017 to January 5, 2018. A total of 823 registered voters in Maryland, who indicated that they are likely to vote in the November 2018 general election, were queried by live telephone interviews, utilizing both landlines and cell phones. A cross-section of interviews was conducted throughout the state, reflecting general election voting patterns. The margin of error (MOE), per accepted statistical standards, is a range of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. If the entire population was surveyed, there is a 95% probability that the true numbers would fall within this range.