Offshore Wind Auction Date Set For August

OCEAN CITY — Another major milestone for the future development of a vast wind energy farm off the coast passed this week when the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued the final sale notice and set an auction date for Aug. 19.

BOEM officials announced on Wednesday the final sale notice has now been issued for Maryland’s Wind Energy Area (WEA), a vast tract of roughly 80,000 acres off the coast of Ocean City, which was the last major regulatory step before the federal agency can auction the lease areas.

The non-monetary phase of the auction, such as a power purchase agreement or a Maryland Public Service Commission-issued offshore renewable energy certificate, for example, will begin on Aug. 15, with the actual monetary phase set for Aug. 19.

A total of 16 private sector entities are eligible to compete in the bidding process. The 16 companies underwent a rigorous review process and BOEM has determined they are all legally, technically and financially qualified to participate in the upcoming lease sale. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who has championed the effort to develop an offshore wind energy farm off the coast of Ocean City, said the project will help the state expand its renewable energy portfolio.

“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,” said O’Malley. “As we continue our work to drive up renewable energy generation in Maryland by 20 percent by 2022, the O’Malley-Brown administration is committed to continuing to work with our federal partners to do everything we can to meet this goal and create a stronger, more sustainable future for generations to come.”

Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell praised Maryland for taking a leadership role in the nation’s efforts to develop renewable energy.

“Maryland is a leading force for building a clean and sustainable energy future,” she said.

BOEM officials said the August auction was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the stakeholders.

“BOEM and the Task Force members have worked collaboratively to develop a wind energy area that has exceptional wind energy potential,” said BOEM Acting Director Cruickshank. “We’re pleased to see such strong commercial interest in the upcoming auction and we look forward to overseeing a fair and competitive leasing process.”