The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held the nation’s third competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters, which offered nearly 80,000 acres offshore Maryland for potential wind energy development.
The provisional winner of lease sale is US Wind Inc. When fully built, this wind energy area could generate enough energy to power about 300,000 homes.
BOEM auctioned the Maryland Wind Energy Area as two leases, referred to as the North Lease Area (32,737 acres) and the South Lease Area (46,970 acres). US Wind submitted the provisionally winning bid for both lease areas.
The announcement builds on Interior’s work to stand up a sustainable offshore wind program for the Atlantic Coast. Prior to the auction, BOEM has awarded five commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two noncompetitively issued leases (one for the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound offshore Massachusetts and one offshore Delaware); and three competitively-issued leases (two offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts and another offshore Virginia). The competitive lease sales generated over $5 million in winning bids for more than 277,500 acres in federal waters. BOEM is expected to hold additional competitive auctions for Wind Energy Areas offshore Massachusetts and New Jersey in the coming year.
Efforts to spur responsible development of offshore wind energy are part of a series of Obama Administration actions to increase renewable energy both offshore and onshore by improving coordination with state, local and federal partners. The Maryland Renewable Energy Task Force has been a leading agent in intergovernmental collaboration for wind energy development offshore Maryland.
Since 2009, Interior has approved 52 wind, solar and geothermal utility-scale projects on public or tribal lands, including associated transmission corridors and infrastructure to connect to established power grids. When built, these projects could provide about 14,000 megawatts – enough energy to power nearly 4.8 million homes and support more than 20,000 construction and operations jobs.
As part of the President’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan, he has challenged Interior to re-double efforts on its renewable energy program by approving an additional 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy production, for a total of 20,000 megawatts on public lands and waters by 2020.
At the same time, under the Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, domestic oil and gas production has grown each year President Obama has been in office, with domestic oil production currently higher than at any time in two decades; natural gas production at its highest level ever; and renewable electricity generation from wind, solar and geothermal sources having doubled. Combined with recent declines in oil consumption, net oil imports in 2012 fell to the lowest level in 20 years.
The Maryland Wind Energy Area is located, at its closest point, about 10 nautical miles offshore Ocean City, Md., and has the potential to support between 850 and 1450 megawatts of commercial wind generation, according to Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.