BOSTON, March 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. Interior Department said it was moving closer to issuing its first leases for offshore wind energy developments in the Atlantic Ocean.
Outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told an offshore wind conference in Boston that offshore wind energy was priority for his department.
"We have made impressive gains, approving dozens of utility-scale solar, wind and geothermal projects in the west and transitioning from planning to commercial leasing for offshore wind," he said.
U.S. President Barack Obama launched plans for a lease sale off the U.S. East Coast for wind energy development. The Energy Department said offshore wind has the potential to produce as much as 4,000 gigawatts of renewable electricity.
Salazar said his department has identified at least six areas off the East Coast that are suitable for wind energy development. The wind potential in those areas would eventually generate enough electricity to meet the annual electricity demands of 1.4 million households.
There are no commercial-scale offshore wind farms in the United States. Salazar said wind energy was one of the areas that may be affected by automatic spending cuts.