Fenwick Island State Park could get upgrade under proposal from offshore wind company

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A proposal for a wind power company to partner with Delaware’s Division of Parks & Recreation to makeimprovements to heavily used Fenwick Island State Park is in the works.

Delaware Public Media reported that Danish wind power company Ørsted wants to lease an area that would make a connection to the grid at Fenwick for its proposed Skipjack windfarm. Negotiations are continuing.

Delaware Public Media also reported that a deal with Ørsted could lead to the company paying for $16 million to $18 million in improvements to the park plus lease payments. The company could also set up an endowment fund.

Ørsted is emerging as the lead company in offshore wind projects off the East Coast of the U.S. It is also involved in a wind project off the New Jersey coast near Atlantic City.

The Delaware Division of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control hosted a public open house on Wednesday that outlined potential improvements to state’s southernmost park.

Recommended improvements to the park include methods for increasing public safety and relieving traffic congestion, upgraded infrastructure, and the addition of new recreational amenities. Coastal state parks have been seeing more visitors.

Skipjack, which is subject to approval by federal regulators, is part of the State of Maryland’s plan to get more electricity from renewable sources.

The project has drawn fire for its possible visual impact in the Ocean City area. A portion of Skipjack is off the southern Delaware Coast. A second wind farm is also in the works to the south of the Ørsted project. (See link below to story from WHYY)

Skyscrapers in the sea: Massive wind turbines planned off Delaware coast

The wind project is opposed by the Caesar Rodney Institute, a Delaware-based public policy group that cites the visual impactthat would include blinking red lights at night. In one post, the institute noted that towers for the wind turbines can be as tall as the Chrysler Building in New York City.

The taller turbine towers, while more expensive, could lead to greater efficiences for wind projects, which are becoming more competitive with other generation sources. Skipjack continues to claim that the visual impact would be minimized by the turbines being close to the horizon line

The State of Delaware was first out of the gate in the offshore wind arena when it backedthe Bluewater Wind project off the coast at Rehoboth Beach as the state was recovering from the recession.

The project was later shelved, due to market forces and other factors. Delaware Gov. John Carney has formed a study group to look at offshore wind.

Delaware has expertise in the windpower area with the University of Delaware faculty member Jeremy Firestone acknowledged as an authority in the field. UD also has a wind turbine at its Lewes campus that has been used in research.

Federal approval of wind projects may not be automatic, with some wind power backers claiming the government is dragging its feet in the process.

The Interior Department said delays are an outgrowth of the rising number of proposed offshore wind projects.

President Donald Trump has been critical of wind power, calling the turbines ugly and claiming ties to cancer. The American Cancer Society refuted those claims.

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