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Seven of 11 senators on the Senate Finance Committee voted in favor of a bill to incentivize the development of an offshore wind farm, catapulting the bill past a hurdle over which it has stumbled the past two years.

In previous years the offshore wind bill, a centerpiece of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s environmental agenda, has stalled in the committee, where members raised concerns over costs to customers and whether minority businesses would have a place in the nascent wind industry.

O’Malley’s bill will allow the Public Service Commission to approve a developer to build a 200-megawatt wind farm 10 to 30 miles off the coast of Ocean City, but only if that project will cost the average residential customer no more than $1.50 per month.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach rearranged committee assignments to ensure that the bill would make it out of committee, placing Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly onto the Finance Committee and moving Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Dist. 26) of Fort Washington from Finance to the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Ramirez is a co-sponsor of the bill.

The full Senate likely will take up the wind measure next week, following debate and votes on gun-control legislation and a bill to repeal the death penalty.

hnunn@gazette.net