OCEAN CITY — The future development of a vast wind energy farm off the resort’s coast took another step toward becoming a reality last week when the lease-holder began a marine survey of the 80,000-acre site offshore in advance for the final project design.
In August 2014, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued an $8.7 million lease to U.S. Wind, Inc., a Texas-based company with ties to a successful offshore wind developer in Italy, for the Maryland Wind Energy Area (WEA), which includes two adjacent lease areas totaling 80,000 acres off the coast of Ocean City for the development of a future offshore wind energy farm. The Maryland WEA covers roughly 94 square nautical miles with its western edge roughly 10 miles off the coast of Ocean City with its eastern edge extending about 30 miles out.
Since the lease, U.S. Wind has been going through the requisite regulatory hurdles, including approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission along with other bureaucratic red tape, but the company now appears to be poised to begin the massive project, which would be the first of its kind along the east coast. Similar leases have been approved for other offshore wind energy farms off the coasts of mid-Atlantic states, but those projects are further behind in the regulatory process.