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Ørsted approved for second larger Md. wind farm

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Ørsted manages the first offshore wind farm in the United States, which includes five turbines about four miles off Block Island, Rhode Island seen here. The same company is looking to develop a Maryland project, about 19 miles off Bethany Beach. | PHOTO C/O BLOCK ISLAND TIMES

FENWICK ISLAND — Ørsted has received state approval for its second wind farm in the Delaware-Maryland waters.

Last week, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) signed off on Skipjack Wind 2, a proposal that would include 846 megawatts of energy via large offshore wind turbines. The Danish multinational green energy company is already developing 12 General Electric Haliade-X 12-megawatt turbines off the coast of Ocean City, Md.

“We are honored that the Maryland PSC has selected Ørsted as a trusted partner in helping the state reach its ambitious renewable energy goals,” David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America, said in a prepared statement. “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.”

Skipjack 2 is buoyed by Maryland’s Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2019, which created more subsidies for renewable energy and tasked the state to facilitate at least 1,200 megawatts in “round two” offshore wind projects. The law set Maryland’s renewable energy goals of 50% or more by 2030.

The $720 million Skipjack Wind Farm was proposed to be built in the waters bordering Fenwick Island and northern Ocean City, Md. The second project would be next to it, and construction on both are expected to begin in 2026.

Skipjack 1 was projected to power 35,000 homes in Maryland — more than the total number of homes in Ocean City alone — and the renewable energy credits would go only to Maryland, which reviewed and authorized it. 

Skipjack 2 would power 250,000 homes and is projected to generate approximately $510 million in supply chain investments in Maryland, including thousands of jobs in manufacturing and operations, according to officials.

Ørsted is also committed to partner with Hellenic Cables SA to establish the first fully integrated array cable manufacturing facility in Maryland. The wind farm company is already developing the state’s first offshore wind operations and maintenance facility in West Ocean City. The first wind turbine steel fabrication center was established at Crystal Steel Fabricators in Federalsburg.

Earlier this year, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a law that bumped the First State’s renewable energy mandate up to 40% by 2035 in hopes of incentivizing the market for green energy here.

The Skipjack 1 project has raised considerable criticism from coastal Delaware communities, who say the wind turbines would disturb their oceanfront view, bird migrations and ocean ecosystems. Other than pushing back against where the project’s transmission lines come ashore, however, Delaware doesn’t have recourse to stop the project.

Ørsted is currently evaluating critical components of the project, such as the cable landfall and interconnection location. The company first proposed bringing the transmission line ashore on Fenwick Island State Park, but ultimately dropped them last summer when it became clear construction would disturb wetlands.

This marks the second wind farm project to expand, as the PSC also approved US Wind’s bid to grow its wind farm to 55 turbines. However, that project is planned closer to Ocean City’s inlet while the Skipjack project is proposed to be in the waters shared by Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island.

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