By Patti Berg
Delawareans must form an independent conclusion on DNREC’s proposal to house Ørsted’s two acre electricity substation at Fenwick Island State Park because DNREC is bound to a joint communication strategy and nondisclosure agreement and cannot be trusted to convey unbiased information.
DNREC has neglected to provide Delawareans two key data points.
First, the proposal would meaningfully harm undisturbed and protected wetlands. The impermeable surface at the state park would increase nearly fourfold and currently undisturbed ocean-to-bay coastal wetlands would decrease by approximately 33 percent.
Second, the park is irrelevant to Delmarva offshore wind because existing substations are available for Ørsted to interconnect Maryland’s Skipjack project to the grid.
A study commissioned by The Maryland Energy Administration identified three existing substations in Ocean City, MD as “optimal substations for the point of interconnection.” Utilizing any one of these substations, located in industrial areas around 138th St., 41st St. and 2nd St., would conserve Delaware wetlands and appropriately locate Skipjack’s substation in Maryland, the offtake state under Ørsted’s agreement.
The DNREC-Ørsted proposal at the park is simply a Fortune 500 company attempting to buy development access to Delaware’s otherwise protected wetlands. Yet, Fenwick Island State Park doesn’t need Ørsted’s money as DNREC initially proposed $2 million of reasonable improvements at the park, which would result in virtually no wetland destruction.
Given the value of Delaware’s state park wetlands, I ask stakeholders in Delaware’s future to join me in telling DNREC “Ørsted’s price is not, nor will it ever be, right.”
(Editor’s note: Berg is a resident of Fenwick Island. Her response came after an Our View column on the Skipjack wind power project off the Delaware and Maryland coasts and a proposal for a substation on a portion of 300-plus acre park. In return for the substation, the Danish company would pay $18 million to upgrade park facilities)