Interior Secretary Jewell announces plan to lease Maryland offshore waters for wind power

17 December 2013 by Tom Gray Tom Gray

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau, and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley today announced the proposed notice of sale for nearly 80,000 acres offshore of Maryland for commercial wind energy leasing. Today’s announcement is an important milestone in efforts to launch the offshore wind industry in the United States.

Based on analysis prepared by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Maryland Wind Energy Area, if fully developed, could support between 850 to 1,450 megawatts (MW) of commercial wind generation, enough electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 300,000 homes.

“Maryland is a leader when it comes to building a sustainable energy future, including the vast wind energy potential along the Atlantic,” said Jewell. “As we work toward a competitive lease sale in Maryland, I want to thank Governor O’Malley and the task force, who have been instrumental in making sure that today’s milestone reflects the input and commitment of industry, the local community and a broad range of stakeholders to advancing offshore wind energy development.”

BOEM identified the Maryland Wind Energy Area in consultation with members of its Maryland Intergovernmental Task Force, which includes Federal, State, tribal, and local government partners. The part of the wind energy area closest to shore is located about 10 nautical miles off the coast of Ocean City, MD.  A map of the proposed area is available here.

“Today’s announcement brings our state one step closer to harnessing the tremendous potential of offshore wind energy off our shores and realizing Maryland's clean energy future,” said Governor O’Malley. “The development of offshore wind will drive economic development in Maryland, create high-quality, family-supporting jobs for Maryland residents and play a major role in reducing emissions and protecting the environment.”

BOEM proposes to auction the wind energy area as two leases, a North Lease Area and a South Lease Area. The North Lease Area consists of 32,737 acres, and the South Lease Area consists of 46,970 acres. The sale, which will be held in the form of an online auction, is expected next year.

The proposed sale notice announced today for the Maryland wind energy area can be found in the Federal Register here. The notice will trigger a 60-day public comment period ending February 18.  Comments received or postmarked by that date will be made available to the public and considered before the publication of a Final Sale Notice. The Final Sale Notice will announce the time and date of the lease sale, which will be held no earlier than 30 days after the publication of the Final Sale Notice in the Federal Register.

The proposed sale notice also provides detailed information concerning:

  • The areas available for leasing;
  • Proposed lease provisions and conditions; and
  • Auction details, including a lease form, criteria for evaluating competing bids, award procedures, appeal procedures, and lease execution. 

During the public comment period, BOEM will host a public seminar to describe the auction format and rules.  The time and place of the seminar will be announced on the BOEM website.

For information on wind energy leasing off the coast of Maryland, including the Proposed Sale Notice, environmental assessment, and a map of the proposed lease area, go to http://www.boem.gov/Maryland/.

AWEA applauds Secretary Jewell, Director Beaudreau, the staff at the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Governor O’Malley and the members of Maryland’s Intergovernmental Task Force. Offshore wind energy is a significant opportunity for our country, and developing this industry will help to create thousands of new jobs.

Photo credit: Courtesy of RWE Innogy

Related articles:

New DOE report shows trend toward larger offshore turbines, October 24, 2013
Deepwater Wind wins auction to develop offshore wind in federal waters, August 5, 2013
Floating turbine launch seen as sign of progress as America moves toward offshore wind, May 31, 2013
Public Opinion Watch: Marylanders strongly back offshore wind power, January 22, 2013