Maryland lease sale proposed

UNITED STATES: The US Department of the Interior has proposed the leasing of 80,000 acres off the coast of Maryland for offshore wind development.

The plan, unveiled by interior secretary Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) director Tommy Beaudreau, says the area could support the development of between 850MW and 1,450MW. The area of coast is 10 nautical miles off the coast of Ocean City.

In a statement, the government said the initiative was part of the interior ministry's Smart from the Start initiative launched in 2010. This aims to cut red tape and facilitate siting, leasing and construction of new projects. However, despite these efforts the US is still waiting for its first offshore wind farm.

In May, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act came into law to support the aim of building a 200MW wind farm off Ocean City.

If a 200MW offshore wind farm is built, O'Malley argues that almost 850 manufacturing and construction jobs would be created over a five-year period, with an additional 160 longer-term supply and operation and maintenance (O&M) posts also on the cards.

"Maryland is a leader when it comes to building a sustainable energy future, including the vast wind energy potential along the Atlantic," said Jewell.