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80,000 acres off Md. leased for wind energy
Offshore wind turbines at Barrow Offshore Wind off Walney Island in the Irish Sea. Photo: By Andy Dingley derivative work: Papa Lima Whiskey 2 [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

80,000 acres off Md. leased for wind energy

ANNAPOLIS — The U.S. Department of the Interior says it has auctioned some 80,000 acres off the coast of Maryland for wind energy development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held an auction on Tuesday. US Wind Inc. submitted the winning bid of $8.7 million.

The Maryland Wind Energy Area is located, at its closest point, about 10 nautical miles off Ocean City. Federal officials say when fully built, the wind energy area could generate enough energy to power about 300,000 homes.

According to estimates from the nonprofit Business Network for Maryland Offshore Wind, the construction, operations and maintenance of the project will generate more than $400 million in local revenue and up to 450 long-term jobs.

The business network has also created a supply chain portal that allows Maryland businesses to become more aware of opportunities to work on the wind project. The online portal asks businesses to identify where they fit into the supply chain, and sign up for electronic alerts about bid solicitations that might interest them.

US Wind is the American arm of Renexia, an Itailian renewable energy firm. Other bidders were Green Sail Energy LLC and SCS Maryland Energy LLC.

The site was the sixth commercial wind energy lease off the Atlantic Coast to be auctioned off by BOEM.

A separate proposal to build a wind farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore within 56 miles of the U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River has become the subject of an intense political fight in the state.

Gov. Martin O’Malley vetoed a bill this year that would have delayed the proposal. But Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, has included an amendment to a defense appropriations bill in the U.S. Senate that would require the Navy-commissioned study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory to be completed to further evaluate how radar use at the base could be affected by the wind turbines.

Supporters of the wind farm have argued the delay could jeopardize its development, because it may not be able to meet a deadline for federal tax credits. But those who advocate the study say the state must consider the needs of the base, which is an important economic engine and source of jobs in southern Maryland.

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