Feds Invite Bids for Wind Farms Offshore of Maryland’s Coast

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), a body that controls the Outer Continental Shelf, on Monday invited bids to put up wind turbines off Maryland’s coast.

The federal group issued both a Request for Interest (RFI) and a map of an offshore wind leasing area in U.S. waters. The western edge of the RFI area for proposed wind generation is located approximately 10 nautical miles from the Ocean City coast and the eastern edge is approximately 27 nautical miles from the Ocean City coast.

The announcement, which was made with Maryland Gov. Martine O’Malley, reportedly represents the culmination of two years of planning. O’Malley pointed out that Maryland is only the second state to reach this point in the federal process; the bureau issued a similar RFI involving Delaware’s southern coast earlier this year.

No offshore wind farms exist in U.S. waters yet. NRG Bluewater Wind has proposed to put up 450-MW worth of turbines off Delaware, however, and the Department of the Interior recently gave the 420-MW Cape Wind project in Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound the green light. Interest in these projects has been heating up. Most recently, a Google-led group announced that it is investing in building lines on the eastern seaboard to transmit offshore power.

O’Malley said that, with 300 turbines proposed for erection off the Maryland coast, the resulting offshore wind farm could reach a nameplate capacity of nearly 1 GW.

“The Maryland Department of Natural Resources worked with the Maryland Energy Administration, the Maryland Offshore Wind Task Force, and other outside partners like the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative and Environmental Research, to develop a comprehensive understanding of the various environmental and stakeholder concerns that would impact any proposed offshore wind development,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

“The result was a draft marine spatial planning area that represented the collective input of federal, state, and local stakeholders and formed the basis for the map released [Monday] by BOEMRE.”

Potential developers will have 60 days to respond to the RFI from the date of its publication in the Federal Register. BOEMRE will then review developer interest and invite more-detailed proposals. Before any leases are finalized, environmental reviews would be required, which could take up to two years.

Source: POWERnews, Office of Gov. Martine O’Malley

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