Obama Administration Initiates Leasing Process for Commercial Wind Development Offshore Maryland

02-02-2012 WASHINGTON

Echoing President Obama’s State of the Union call for an “all of the above” energy strategy, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, together with the state of Maryland, announced today that it is taking the next step in the evaluation of commercial wind energy development in an area on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore of Maryland, through a competitive leasing process. BOEM is publishing a Call for Information and Nominations to solicit any additional lease nominations and request public comments about site conditions, resources and other existing uses of the identified area that would be relevant to BOEM’s potential leasing and development authorization process.  

In November 2010, the Bureau initiated the leasing process by issuing a Request for Interest to gauge industry’s interest in obtaining commercial wind leases in an area offshore of Maryland. Based on the responses received, BOEM determined that there is competitive interest for wind energy development in the identified area, and will therefore move forward with a competitive leasing process. 

“We are continuing to work closely with the state of Maryland to facilitate commercial leasing for offshore wind energy development in federal waters off of Maryland’s coast,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “This is a significant step forward in the process that we hope will lead to active leasing in promising areas for the assessment and development of renewable wind energy projects.” 

“To create jobs, a modern economy requires modern investments,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Maryland has emerged as one of the leaders in the effort to harness the power of offshore wind, and this legislative session we are continuing our fight for Maryland to harness the powerful gusts of wind blowing off of Maryland’s shores and to create thousands of jobs in a new offshore wind industry. Together, with our federal, state and local partners, we can ensure our state’s long-term energy security.” 

The Call Area was identified by BOEM in consultation with its intergovernmental Maryland Renewable Energy Task Force, which includes federal, state, local and tribal government representatives. The Call Area is intended to balance the adequate protection of ecologically sensitive areas and minimize space use conflicts while maximizing the area available for commercial offshore wind development. Site-specific mitigation, stipulations or exclusion areas may be applied as a result of future environmental reviews and associated consultations. 

The Call Area offshore Maryland contains nine whole OCS blocks and 11 partial blocks. The western edge of the Call Area is approximately 10 nautical miles from the Ocean City, Md., coast, and the eastern edge is approximately 23 nautical miles from the same location. The longest part of the north/south portion is approximately 13 nautical miles and the longest part of the east/west portion is approximately 13 nautical miles. The entire area is approximately 79,706 acres. A map of the area of interest can be found at: http://www.boem.gov/Maryland/ 

BOEM recently completed the Commercial Wind Lease Issuance and Site Assessment Activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf Offshore New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia - Environmental Assessment and determined that there would be no significant impacts associated with issuing leases in the Wind Energy Areas offshore New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. The EA is available at: http://www.boem.gov/Renewable-Energy-Program/Smart-from-the-Start/Index.aspx

The public is encouraged to provide any additional information about site conditions, resources and multiple uses in the Call area that can assist BOEM in further reducing or eliminating obvious conflicts, including potentially refining the area ultimately identified for proposed future commercial leasing. Proposed offshore wind projects will receive comprehensive, site-specific analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.  

The notice is available for public inspection today through the Federal Register at:  http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/public-inspection/index.html. Submissions of interest and public comments must be submitted within 45 days of publication in the Federal Register in one of the following ways: 

  1. Electronically:  http://www.boem.gov/About-BOEM/Public-Engagement/Public-Engagement-Opportunities.aspx
  2. Click on the “Open Comment Documents” link and follow the instructions to submit public comments and to view supporting and related materials.
  3. By mail:  send indications of interest, comments and information to:  Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Office of Renewable Energy Programs, 381 Elden Street, HM 1328, Herndon, VA 20170