Library filed under Offshore Wind from Maryland
Dozens of Ocean City residents, environmental groups and businesspeople were again split by the latest proposals for wind turbines off Maryland’s coast, during a lengthy hearing before the Maryland Public Service Commission on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Ørsted announced it has submitted a bid to the PSC to develop Skipjack 2, a proposed project off the coast of Ocean City. The proposed Skipjack Wind 2 project would include up to 760 megawatts and would be sited about 20 miles off the coast of the resort. It would be located in the same approved Wind Energy Area (WEA) as the Skipjack 1 project.
In a nondescript building near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, a glimpse of Maryland’s clean energy future is on vivid display.
One of two approved offshore wind energy projects planned off Ocean City has informed a state regulatory agency its target date for operation has now been moved to 2026.
Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina are teaming up on an effort to kickstart wind energy and economic development off their shores. The new initiative provides a framework for the three states to "cooperatively promote, develop, and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce," they said in a joint press release.
While the decision announced last week did not go Ocean City’s way, the PSC did admonish the Skipjack project for not appropriately including the town and other stakeholders in the process, calling the company’s efforts at outreach “meager.” “Regarding outreach to stakeholders, the commission finds Skipjack’s efforts were deficient,” the order reads. “The order clearly imposes upon Skipjack the duty to work with stakeholders, including state and local officials, to discuss placement of the turbines in a manner that minimizes visual impacts.”
“Skipjack’s duty to reach out to stakeholders was not contingent on the stakeholders’ enthusiasm for the project,” according to the ruling. “Ocean City is an important stakeholder whose economy is vital to the state. Nor should Ocean City be punished for its lawful advocacy of a bill that would have required offshore wind turbines to be located at least 26 miles from shore.” As a result, the Public Service Commission ordered Ørsted to engage with its stakeholders more, including Ocean City, and provide updates every six months on the company's efforts.
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.
U.S. Wind confirmed it is delaying the completion of its MarWin Wind Farm off Ocean City, until at least December 2024. In November, the company filed paperwork with the Maryland Public Service Commission stating it was moving its completion date for the project from 2021 to 2023.
The testimony of Robert Scott that is accessible from this page describes the possible visual impacts of the Skipjack offshore wind energy facility proposed for off the coast of Maryland. The developers of the Skipjack facility are proposing to use the Haliade-X1 twelve-megawatt turbines. According to Mr. Sullivan, the Haliade-X turbines are 70% larger than the turbines that were originally proposed for the site and for which a permit was granted. The turbines will be visible to the unaided eye at distances greater than 36 statute miles, with turbine blade movement visible up to 29 statute miles, and often visible at 24 statute miles. Mr. Sullivan's testimony was provided to the Maryland PSC on behalf of Ocean City, MD. Mr. Sullivan's full testimony can be downloaded by clicking on the document links on this page.
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.
In a letter from the Mayor of Ocean City, Rick Meehan, to the Maryland Public Service Commission the Mayor highlights the objections to wind turbines built off the coast of the Ocean City and the visual impacts of the turbines. The letter states that "The Town of Ocean City while in support for clean energy in Maryland, has opposed the size and location of the wind turbines. As the size of the turbines has increased, so has our concern for the visual impact they will have on our community and our property values.” In response to the size of the windmills now being proposed, the letter further said, “In order to avoid the destruction of our natural view forever and the negative impact on our community, the Town of Ocean City is insisting these turbines be moved at least 33 miles from shore.” The Mayor's letter can be accessed by clicking the document links on this page.
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.