Maryland moves ahead with offshore enviro surveys

Full programme of baseline studies planned

The US state of Maryland will undertake or commission a full series of environmental studies to accelerate and reduce the costs of offshore wind development within the Maryland Wind Energy Area.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), with the support of the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), will oversee the surveys, explained Andrew Gohn, senior clean energy programme manager at the MEA.

The research will include baseline surveys of sea bed organisms (benthic resources), bird and bat interactions, and marine mammal issues, including passive acoustic monitoring.

Some of the surveys will be undertaken by the DNR itself or by other state public bodies, such as the Maryland Geological Survey, said Gohn, speaking with Windpower Offshore. Others are likely to be produced by the likes of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, some of the surveys will be done by private-sector companies, with opportunities to bid for work on the horizon, confirmed Gohn.

Money from the state’s offshore wind development fund will be used to fund the surveys. The fund was created as a result of last year’s merger of two energy companies, Exelon and Constellation Energy. The two companies created the pot of money as part of a ‘public benefits’ package associated with the merger.

The MEA recently invited bids from companies to produce a high-resolution geophysical survey of the Maryland Wind Energy Area. A decision about which company has won the contract is expected before the end of the year.

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