Nina Smith, Governor’s Office: 410-974-2316
Tamara Toles-O’Laughlin, MEA: 410-260-2609
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GOVERNOR O’MALLEY APPLAUDS U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR’S SUCCESSFUL OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY AREA AUCTION
Prospective offshore wind developers have each provisionally secured federal
Leases for deployment off Maryland’s Atlantic coast.
ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 19, 2014) — Today, Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown congratulated U.S.Wind Inc., a company provisionally awarded wind energy leases in the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) official auction. The two lease areas are within the Maryland Wind Energy Area (WEA) of the Outer Continental Shelf located 10 nautical miles east of Ocean City, Maryland within Federal waters.
“We need a jobs agenda to match our climate challenge,” Gov. O’Malley said. “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. ”
BOEM will officially award leases after the winning bids pass anti-trust review by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission.
Secretary Sally Jewell concurred, offering that “today’s results are a major achievement and reflect industry confidence as we strengthen our nation’s foothold in this new energy frontier. I want to thank Governor Martin O’Malley, his team, and members of BOEM’s Maryland Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force for all of their hard work and leadership leading up to today’s successful auction. The collaboration and thoughtful planning that went into this lease sale will serve as a model as we continue up and down the coast in our efforts to ensure wind energy is developed in the right way and in the right places.”
Bidders in the auction competed for a northern and a southern lease area within the Wind Energy Area. Leases give project developers an exclusive right to submit plans to conduct site assessment, which will inform project planning in the leased areas. However, prior to construction, BOEM must approve Construction and Operations Plans, which will likely involve full Environmental Impact Statements. Although the auction process results in a provisional award for the lease areas, the lessees may apply to divide or assign the areas after the auction.
This auction is the first step in planning for actual projects within the WEA. Under the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act, which passed in 2013, site control and project feasibility are key factors in the evaluation of the proposals. Next, federal leaseholders propose projects to the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) and compete for state financial support through Offshore Renewable Energy Credit (OREC) orders, which will provide project developers with the necessary revenue certainty to move forward with projects.
MEA Director Abigail Hopper commented on the auction stating “this is an exhilarating time for the State of Maryland, as we are making significant progress in our long term goals to make renewable energy a major contributor to the state’s portfolio. Today, we are charging ahead to develop the offshore wind sector in the State. Maryland businesses and stakeholders can begin planning for real and impactful projects.”
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