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(The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Officials to auction wind energy area off Md.

WASHINGTON — Nearly 80,000 acres off Maryland’s coast will be offered for commercial wind energy development.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the auction Wednesday.

Officials say 16 companies have qualified to participate in the August 19 auction of the Maryland Wind Energy Area, or WEA.

The area covers about 94 square nautical miles of ocean beginning roughly 11 miles off the shores of Ocean City, Maryland. It will be auctioned as two leases, a northern area and a southern area.

Government officials say that, if fully developed, the Maryland Wind Energy Area could generate enough electricity to power 300,000 homes.

To date, federal officials have awarded five commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast.