No wind leases approved for Maryland

Daily Record Business Writer//November 30, 2012

No wind leases approved for Maryland

By Alexander Pyles

//Daily Record Business Writer

//November 30, 2012

Maryland was not included in the first batch of states for which the U.S. Department of the Interior will lease land for the development of offshore wind turbines, but the decision was no surprise to state officials.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Friday that it would sell leases to companies interested in land off the coast of Virginia and in a shared area off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Officials at the Maryland Energy Administration said they did not expect to be included in the first round of lease sales, in part because the state has identified two geographic areas for potential offshore wind farms. That has made preparation more complex than in other states.

Andrew Gohn, the energy administration’s senior clean energy program manager for wind, said the state was still expecting to sell offshore leases next year.

“We’re setting up the next task force meeting with BOEM,” Gohn said. “We’re optimistic with moving forward with a proposed sale notice.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley has twice proposed legislation that would guarantee offshore wind developers a market if they build turbines 10 miles off the coast of Ocean City. The General Assembly has balked both times, but O’Malley has indicated he will back a similar bill in 2013.

Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for O’Malley, said last Thursday that precise details of the legislation were still being discussed.

Mike Tidwell, director of environmental advocacy group Chesapeake Climate Action Network, downplayed the significance of BOEM’s exclusion of Maryland.

“If Maryland is not in the first round of leases, it has nothing to do with how advanced Maryland is in moving forward,” Tidwell said.

The proposed areas off the coast of Virginia, Massachusetts and Rhode Island could generate enough electricity to power an estimated 1.4 million homes if energy-producing wind turbines are installed. The land off Virginia — almost 113,000 acres — could generate enough electricity for 700,000 homes.

“Wind energy along the Atlantic holds enormous potential, and today we are moving closer to tapping into this massive domestic energy resource to create jobs, increase our energy security and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness in this new energy frontier,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.


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