Feds sell offshore wind rights for 80,000 acres near Maryland

The Interior Department Tuesday sold the rights to build wind turbines on 80,000 acres off Maryland’s coast for $8.7 million.

US Wind Inc., a subsidiary of Italy-based renewable energy developer Renexia, won the actions for both tracts of the outer continental shelf about 10 miles from Ocean City. Two other companies participated in the auction.

“Today’s results are a major achievement and reflect industry confidence as we strengthen our nation’s foothold in this new energy frontier,” Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellOvernight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick GOP chairman probes Zinke’s charter plane use MORE said in a statement.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) congratulated US Wind and thanked the various government agencies involved in the sale.

“We need a jobs agenda to match our climate challenge,” O'Malley said in a statement. “Expanding renewable energy, like we’re doing here, will bring Maryland’s vision for clean energy one step closer to reality and clearly set our state apart on the country’s renewable energy landscape.”

US Wind’s lease is only provisional at this point, and it could take nearly six years before a wind farm is fully approved. The company must submit site plans and a construction and operation plan to the Interior Department, at which point the agency must review it and accept public comments.

If a plan is approved, US Wind will be able to operate turbines for 25 years.

There are currently no commercial-scale offshore wind energy operations in the United States.

Tuesday’s auction was the third competitive sale of offshore wind rights by the federal government.