Today, the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is leasing nearly 80,000 acres off the coast of Maryland for offshore wind energy development. As of today, 16 companies have qualified to participate in the auction.
Oceana applauded the sale and released the following statement from ocean advocate Nancy Sopko:
“This lease sale is further proof that Governor O’Malley and the Obama administration remain committed to developing a strong offshore wind industry in Maryland. According to the Department of the Interior, this lease sale alone could support up to 1,450 megawatts of offshore wind energy, which is enough electricity to power approximately 300,000 homes.
The biggest barrier to clean and renewable offshore wind energy is attracting investment. While the federal government continues to move forward with offshore leasing, we must also stimulate investment in the industry if we want to reap the benefits of offshore wind for our communities. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for offshore wind is a critically important way to stimulate investment, but it was allowed to expire at the end of 2013.
An extension of the ITC is currently included in the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act, a bipartisan bill that was voted out of the Senate Finance Committee in April. Oceana is now calling on Congress to pass the EXPIRE Act and provide an extension of this incentive as soon as possible so that we can finally begin to reap all of the environmental and economic benefits of this clean, domestic energy supply.
Offshore wind has massive clean energy and job-creating potential for Maryland and the entire East coast, which will also help us address the growing problem of climate change. Governor O’Malley has long been a leader in promoting offshore wind development in this country and has also been outspoken about protecting Maryland’s coast from seismic airgun blasting as well as offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic.
Oceana hopes that the Obama administration will remember its commitment to offshore wind as it develops its next five-year plan for offshore oil and gas development. We need offshore wind, not oil spills, in the Atlantic Ocean.”
This is the third competitive offshore wind lease sale as part of BOEM’s “Smart from the Start” initiative. In total, more than 357,000 acres have been leased for offshore wind development off the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.