- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2011

ANNAPOLIS | Senate committee on Thursday killed a bill backed by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley to implement offshore wind energy in the state.

The Senate Finance Committee announced it will conduct a study this summer on the Offshore Wind Energy Act, ending hope of its passage during the 2011 General Assembly session that ends Monday.

The bill was one of Mr. O’Malley’s marquee proposals this session, but faced months of extreme skepticism from Democratic and Republican legislators over its costliness and feasibility.

“We’re just going to meet during the interim and go over the issues and proposals,” said Delegate Dereck E. Davis, Prince George’s Democrat and chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, which killed its version of the bill Thursday. “Hopefully, we can come back in January with something that we can support or cannot support.”

The legislation would have required Maryland utility companies to enter into 20-year wind-energy contracts at a minimum. While Mr. O’Malley predicted the shift could lower dependence on fossil fuels and create as many as 20,000 jobs, he acknowledged it would also increase consumer energy costs.

Some analysts predicted average monthly increases of as much as $9. Mr. O’Malley pledged increases of no more than $2 after the bill languished for weeks in House and Senate committees.

Legislators have balked at several of Mr. O’Malley’s most notable proposals this session, as a bill banning septic systems in many developments was also relegated to summer study last month. A governor-backed bill to establish a state venture capital program could receive a full House vote Friday, but would still have to pass two Senate committees and the full Senate by Monday.

• David Hill can be reached at dhill@washingtontimes.com.

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