Danish wind-power company Ørsted announced on Friday, July 10, that it was dropping a controversial proposal to place an interconnect from its Skipjack wind farm program at Fenwick Island State Park. They said they would be announcing a new interconnect site in the coming weeks. The Fenwick Island State Park interconnect site proposal had been put to the State of Delaware with a package of proposed state park improvements there, paid for by Ørsted.
The July 2019 non-binding memorandum of understanding between Ørsted and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) to construct the Skipjack Wind Farm’s interconnection facility on a portion of a site within Fenwick Island State Park has been met with opposition from local residents, who debated whether the site was appropriate for such a project, given the bay and beach wetlands located there.
“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,” the company acknowledged in its July 10 announcement. “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.”
“Constructing an interconnection facility on a site with such an extensive presence of undisturbed wetlands runs contrary to Ørsted’s deeply-held commitment to building our business sustainably,” said Brady Walker, Mid-Atlantic market manager for Ørsted. “The Skipjack Wind Farm will deliver significant environmental and economic benefits to the Delmarva region, from good-paying jobs to renewable energy for tens of thousands of homes. However, Ørsted is committed to constructing the wind farm and associated infrastructure in a way that seeks to mitigate potential adverse impacts on local ecosystems and communities.
“We are grateful to DNREC leadership and staff for their diligent work and prolonged collaboration on this proposal,” Walker added. “We know they share our commitment to protecting Delaware’s pristine wetlands. As Ørsted pursues an alternative interconnection site, we look forward to continued discussions with DNREC and other stakeholders in the region to complete a project Delmarva residents can be proud of. We hope to make an announcement on our alternative interconnection site in the near future.”
In January 2020, Ørsted was ranked the world’s most sustainable company by Corporate Knights. In its latest Sustainability Report, Ørsted states it will strive to, “limit the potential adverse impacts that building and operating green energy infrastructure may have on nature and people.”
The Skipjack Wind Farm is a 120-megawatt offshore wind farm under development 19 miles off the Maryland-Delaware coast. According to Ørsted, the project will create thousands of jobs in the Delmarva region and generate enough clean energy to power 35,000 homes.
After Ørsted substantially increased the height and size of the turbines planned for the wind farm, Maryland officials have returned to reviewing the plan. The MOU between the State of Delaware and Ørsted was non-binding and pertained only to the proposed interconnect site at the state park and the package of park improvements that would have been paid for by Ørsted.
For more information on the wind-farm project, visit www.skipjackwindfarm.com.