Interior to Auction 80,000 Acres Off Maryland for Offshore Wind

Jul 02, 2014 11:41 am ET

July 2 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Department of the Interior plans to auction about 80,000 acres off the Maryland coast for commercial wind-energy development.

The competitive lease sale is scheduled for Aug. 19, according to an e-mailed statement today. Sixteen companies are expected to submit bids for an area where turbines may produce enough electricity for 300,000 homes.

There are no offshore wind farms in U.S. waters and the Interior Department is seeking to encourage development. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has awarded five commercial- scale leases for offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia. The competitive sales have raised more than $5 million across almost 278,000 acres of federal water.

“Today’s announcement is a tremendous step forward for the U.S. offshore wind industry,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said in the statement.

BOEM expects to hold additional auctions for areas offshore Massachusetts and New Jersey later this year, according to the statement.

The U.S. Energy Department yesterday announced a $150 million loan guarantee for Cape Wind, an offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound that’s been under development for more than a decade and may become the first in the country.