Maryland PSC awards agreements for offshore wind projects

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The Maryland Public Service Commission awarded agreements to two offshore wind projects that will generate a combined 1.65 million megawatts of electricity. 

A release stated that Maryland has secured more than two million  MW of offshore wind capacity. As part of the offtake agreements, Ørsted’s Skipjack II and US Wind’s Momentum Wind projects committed to investing in new bases, towers, and array cable facilities that will make Maryland a manufacturing hub for the offshore wind industry.

The project and Ørsted’s projects of the coast of New Jersey are also expected to benefit Delaware businesses and workers. The Skipjack transmission line is likely to come ashore in Delaware. One possible site for Ørsted’s onshore connection is the Indian River Power Plant, which has the infrastructure in place. Its remaining coal-fired unit is scheduled for decommissioning as early as next year.

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Projects to aid Delaware economy

“We are honored that Maryland’s Public Service Commission selected Ørsted as a trusted partner in helping the state reach its ambitious renewable energy goals, and we’re proud that we’re once again able to leverage our market-leading portfolio of offshore wind projects to attract major supply chain companies to set up local manufacturing operations in Maryland,” said David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America. 

Skipjack Wind 2 is Ørsted’s second offshore wind energy project in Maryland. It will be located adjacent to its 120 MW Skipjack Wind 1. Ørsted will build Skipjack Wind 1 and 2 as one project, with operations expected to begin in 2026. The wind farms are off the coast in Ocean City, Fenwick Island, and Bethany areas

With Skipjack Wind 2, Ørsted is partnering with Hellenic Cables SA to establish the nation’s first fully-integrated array cable manufacturing facility in Maryland. Ørsted will also facilitate the construction of an offshore wind tower manufacturing facility in the state, producing up to 100 turbine towers annually. Ørsted is already developing Maryland’s first offshore wind operations and maintenance facility in West Ocean City. In October the company established Maryland’s first offshore wind steel fabrication center at Crystal Steel Fabricators in Federalsburg.

“Construction and operation of Maryland’s offshore wind projects will provide opportunities for the more than 200 Maryland companies who have already identified that they want to work in the offshore wind sector, drive supply chain growth in all corners of the state, and will deliver clean, renewable power to homes and businesses. Maryland’s bright offshore wind future was made possible thanks to strong development goals set by the State of Maryland and by the efforts of the Public Service Commission to maximize economic benefits for the state,” stated Liz Burdock, CEO t of the Business Network for Offshore Wind:

Opposition from Ocean City mayor

The two projects continue to face opposition from Ocean City, MD’s mayor, who wants the turbines placed further offshore and has been seeking comments and perhaps support from officials in Delaware communities. Critics, like OC Mayor John Meehan also claim that aircraft warning lights will affect views at night.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has been a long-time supporter of offshore wind power, and sentiment in favor of offshore wind in much of Maryland and Delaware is strong.

The Skipjack windfarm will be more than 18 miles off the coast of the southern edge of Delaware. While critics claim the turbines will affect ocean views and hurt tourism, supporters say that the structures will be barely visible, even on a clear day.

Delaware has no offshore wind projects in the works as it faces a mandate that will require the state to get 40% of its power from renewable sources by 2035. An early offshore wind project off the coast at Rehoboth Beach fell victim to a lengthy recovery from the 2009 recession and low electricity prices as major industrial users shut down operations.

Advancements in offshore wind efficiency would have also led to concerns about the turbines affecting ocean views from the beach town since the Deepwater project was slated to be 10 miles offshore. During the past decade, wind turbine towers have grown to the height of large skyscrapers.

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