WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- Sixteen companies are cleared to take part in an upcoming lease sale to develop wind energy off the Maryland coast, the U.S. government announced.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Acting Director Walter Cruickshank to announce nearly 80,000 acres off the Maryland coast go on the auction block Aug. 19.
The Department of Energy says the area up for auction has the potential to support as much as 1,450 megawatts of wind energy, which could be enough to meet the annual demands of 300,000 homes.
"Maryland is a leading force for building a clean and sustainable energy future," Jewell said in a statement Wednesday.
The 16 companies cleared for the auction were determined by the federal government to have the legal, technical and financial qualifications to compete.
Maryland has a goal of using renewable energy to provide 20 percent of its power needs by 2022.
There have been five wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast, though no commercial offshore wind energy projects are in operation in the United States.
A Massachusetts project, Cape Wind, is close to receiving a loan guarantee from the federal government.