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BOEM Plans Environmental Review for First Maryland Offshore Wind Farm 

Maryland's first offshore wind farm
BOEM is asking for public review as it begins to define the environmental review for Maryland's first offshore wind farm (file photo)

Published Jun 6, 2022 7:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

In an effort to move forward with the plans for the first offshore wind farms to be located in the state of Maryland, the Department of the Interior today announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will conduct an environmental review of the first proposed wind energy project submitted by US Wind. BOEM will open a 30-day public comment period as part of the process to help determine the scope of the environmental review.

US Wind, which is majority-owned by Renexia, a leader in renewable energy development in Italy, acquired an 80,000-acre federal lease area off the coast of Maryland in 2014. Maryland approved the company’s first project, the 300 MW MarWin project in 2017, and in 2021, the state approved the 808 MW Momentum Wind project.

The lease area that BOEM is preparing to review is approximately 10 nautical miles off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland, and approximately nine nautical miles offshore Sussex County, Delaware. US Wind’s proposal includes the construction and operation of an offshore wind project with a total capacity of between 1,100 and 2,000 megawatts of wind energy for the Delmarva Peninsula. They are calling for the installation of up to 121 turbines, up to four offshore substation platforms, one meteorological tower, and up to four offshore export cable corridors. The cable would come ashore at 3 R’s Beach or Tower Road in the Delaware Seashore State Park in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

While Ocean City is a popular tourist destination, town officials have been supportive of the proposal as it places the wind turbines far enough offshore so that they would not impact the landscape from shore. Other groups have questioned the environmental impact of popular fishing and recreation areas offshore.

“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. “We are committed to using the best available science and traditional knowledge to inform our decisions and protect the ocean environment and marine life. We look forward to receiving input from our government partners, ocean users, and other stakeholders, which is critical to a successful environmental review process.”?

According to BOEM, this is the tenth offshore wind energy Construction and Operations Plan review initiated under the Biden-Harris administration. It is part of the effort to achieve the goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030. The administration released a plan in the fall of 2021 which identified up to seven potential lease sales by 2025. Last month, BOEM outlined its plans for the first California wind lease auction. So far this year, they have conducted auctions for leases off the Carolinas coast and the New York Bight. The California auction is expected to proceed in the fall and they are targeting the first Gulf Coast offshore wind lease auction before the end of 2022.