Articles filed under Offshore Wind from Maryland
OCEAN CITY — Independent stakeholders in one of two offshore wind projects appear to have little concern with the significantly larger turbines selected, according to briefs filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission following a hearing last month.
Danish energy company Ørsted is no longer seeking to connect an offshore wind farm to the mainland at Fenwick Island State Park.
Following the completion of more thorough evaluations of the area proposed for the facility, Ørsted has determined that a large portion of the site is comprised of undisturbed wetlands. Accordingly, Ørsted has notified DNREC that it will no longer pursue plans to build the interconnection facility at Fenwick Island State Park as initially proposed.
The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) evidentiary hearing on the proposed change in the size of the turbines for one offshore wind farm began in earnest on Thursday with both sides firing salvos in their opening remarks.
Visual resource scientist and town of Ocean City consultant Robert Sullivan also submitted written testimony to the PSC last Friday. Sullivan’s testimony, based largely on years of experience and the direct findings of offshore wind energy projects in the U.S. and abroad, suggested the increased height in the turbines would almost certainly make the Skipjack project visible from the Ocean City coast. “I am certain that on many day, the project will be easily visible from many oceanside locations in Ocean City, particularly from the northern sections of Ocean City and especially so from the upper floors of buildings in Ocean City,” he wrote.
Regarding “Wind farm company meets with local contractors,” Coastal Point, Feb. 14, 2020:
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan called on the PSC to hold more evidentiary hearings to better understand the impact larger wind turbines would have on the town. U.S. Congressman Andy Harris, R-Md.-1 pointed out that nothing stops U.S. Wind from possibly building 12-megawatt wind turbines as close as 10 miles from shore. Harris went on to criticize the wind developers' decision to use larger wind turbines saying, “I would suggest that this is one of the most amazing cases of bait and switch that I’ve ever seen."
A standing room only crowd descended in Ocean City to hear and be heard on the issue of wind power off the coasts of Maryland and Delaware. The Ocean City Fire Department estimates there were 1,850 people in attendance.
It is part of a larger inquiry that will examine the decision by two prospective wind farm operations, Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind and U.S. Wind, to increase the size of their wind turbines, and its possible effects on Ocean City’s coastal aesthetic. Residents, visitors, proponents, opponents, city leaders and stakeholders will have the opportunity to voice their opinions at the hearing. City officials see this session as an opportunity to turn the tide on a project they contend will harm the resort’s economy.
The meeting came at the request of Rick Meehan, Ocean City mayor, after U.S. Wind, the company looking to build the turbines greatly increased the height of the structures to 853 feet. Meehan is concerned the size will ruin the view of the ocean, consequently hurting tourism and property values.
After two month-long extensions, the state closed public comment Jan. 15 on Ørsted’s controversial proposal to connect the company’s offshore wind farm to the electrical grid by passing through Fenwick Island State Park. The connection project was revealed in late September. In return for being allowed to connect the wind farm, Ørsted has proposed $18 million of improvements at the state park.
On the eve of the highly-anticipated public hearing on the increased height of the proposed offshore wind turbines off the resort coast, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) this week approved the town’s petition to intervene and also changed the hearing’s site within the convention center to accommodate the expected crowd.
Eighty-four percent of respondents to a survey on offshore wind are primarily opposed to two things, said the Caesar Rodney Institute's David Stevenson. "One is visible wind turbines off the shore, and the second is using Fenwick Island State Park as place for landfall for the transmission line,
The proposed Skipjack Wind Turbine project planned for Fenwick Island should be rejected. The wind turbines will spoil the current pristine views from the Delaware shoreline. Since these 850-foot monstrosities will be built only 17 miles from the coast, a substantial — over 400 feet — portion will be visible from the beach.
“The massive increase in the turbine size would profoundly change the Ocean City viewscape and create serious economic, natural and environmental harm to Ocean City and the surrounding environs,” the petition reads. “No other party in this matter can adequately represent Ocean City’s interests or express the impact that the use of supersized turbines will have on its viewscape and economy. Ocean City can provide relevant and material information concerning issues relative to the proceeding.”
The Maryland Public Service Commission has granted Ocean City’s petition request to review the new proposed turbine sizes for two wind energy projects that were approved in 2017. The Commission determined that the new larger turbines – which are nearly double the size proposed two years ago – constitute material changes to the original applications.
In a written statement Thursday, Vitale said it's common for renewable energy projects to be delayed. Those delays, he said, could be for a number of reasons, most related to the permitting process. In this case, Vitale didn't provide a specific reason for the delay. "While originally we were hoping to achieve the OCD (Commercial Operation Date) by 2021, we must note that we are still well on track to complete the project in the timeframe imposed by the Maryland Public Service Commission of 2025," Vitale said.
It is uncertain what steps the PSC will take next, although the state agency does have the authority to rescind the original approvals or amend them. In an official filing outlining the re-opening of the public comment period, the PSC said filings earlier this fall made it clear both companies are moving toward the larger turbines. It’s important to note the PSC approval was based on the “best available technology” when the ORECs were awarded and in the years since, technological advances have significantly increased the size of the proposed turbines.
Two wind farms proposed off the coast of Ocean City, Md., are getting a second look from the state of Maryland. The Skipjack Wind Farm, led by Danish company Ørsted, and the MarWin Wind Farm by Baltimore-based U.S. Wind, a subsidiary of the Italian renewable energy company Renexia, are being reviewed in response to concerns raised by Ocean City officials about the farms' impact on tourism to the famous vacation spot.