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Interior Seeks Public Comment on Maryland’s First Offshore Wind Project

June 13, 2022 by Dan McCue
(Photo by Nicholas Doherty via UnSplash)

WASHINGTON — The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is seeking public comment as part of its environmental review of the first offshore wind project proposed off Maryland’s coastline.

Baltimore-based wind energy developer U.S. Wind has proposed the development of an offshore wind project with a capacity to produce between 1,100 and 2,000 MW of energy — enough to power as many as 650,000 homes in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia each year.

The wind farm itself would be composed of up to 121 turbines, up to four offshore substation platforms, one meteorological tower and up to four offshore export cable corridors, which are planned to make landfall at 3 R’s Beach or Tower Road in the Delaware Seashore State Park in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

The lease area itself is approximately 10 nautical miles off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland, and approximately nine nautical miles offshore Sussex County, Delaware.

If approved, U.S. Wind has said, the development and construction phases of the project could support as many as 2,679 jobs annually over seven years.

“If approved, this project will represent another step forward to creating a robust offshore wind industry here in the United States, all while creating good-paying, family-supporting jobs,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton, in a written statement. 

“We are committed to using the best available science and traditional knowledge to inform our decisions and protect the ocean environment and marine life,” she said.

Last week, the Department published a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the construction and operations plan submitted by U.S. Wind in the Federal Register. 

The publication of the notice opened a 30-day public comment period that will extend through July 8.

Agency officials said comments submitted by the public and other interested parties will help identify what BOEM should consider as part of its environmental review process. 

In addition, the agency will hold three virtual public scoping meetings in the coming weeks to further inform the preparation of the environmental impact statement for the project.

These meetings will be held on: 

  • Tuesday, June 21, at 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 23, at 5 p.m.
  • Monday, June 27, at 1 p.m. 

Registration for the virtual public meetings and detailed information about the proposed wind energy facility, including how to comment, can be found on BOEM’s website.

The environmental review is the 10th to be undertaken for an offshore wind project since the start of the Biden administration.

According to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, “President Biden has set the bar high for a clean energy future with ambitious offshore wind goals that will lower costs for families, create nearly 80,000 good-paying jobs and make substantive progress as we work to confront the climate crisis.”

This past fall, the administration announced a new leasing path forward, which identified up to seven potential lease sales by 2025.

 A recent report indicates the United States’ growing offshore wind energy industry presents a $109 billion revenue opportunity to businesses in the supply chain over the next decade.

“We look forward to receiving input from our government partners, ocean users and other stakeholders, which is critical to a successful environmental review process,” BOEM’s Lefton said.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and @DanMcCue

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