Feds to auction Maryland offshore wind property

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has scheduled an auction to sell the rights to build wind turbines in nearly 80,000 acres of Maryland’s offshore water in the Atlantic Ocean.

BOEM has approved 16 companies for the Aug. 19 auction through a process to determine that they are qualified to develop potential wind farms, the agency said Wednesday. Officials worked with Maryland leaders to plan the auction.

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“Maryland is a leading force for building a clean and sustainable energy future,” said Sally Jewell, secretary of the Interior Department, which is BOEM’s parent. “We have reached another milestone as we strengthen our nation’s foothold in the new energy frontier.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) welcomed the auction.

“To combat climate change, we must develop cleaner, renewable sources of energy — and today’s announcement is a tremendous step forward for the U.S. offshore wind industry,” O’Malley said in a statement. Maryland is working toward a 20 percent increase in renewable energy by 2022, and the offshore projects will help the state to reach the goal, he said.

The August auction will be the third competitive bidding process for offshore wind property. But no one has yet developed offshore wind in United States waters.

The area for wind development is about 10 miles from Maryland’s shores and will be offered in two leases.