Danish wind-power company Ørsted may be looking at a site in Bethany Beach or in the Cedar Neck area near Ocean View for a planned interconnection facility for its Skipjack offshore wind farm, according to a statement from the company on Wednesday, July 15.
Contacted by the Coastal Point regarding potential sites other than Fenwick Island State Park — a proposal for which Ørsted announced last week it was abandoning — Brady Walker, Mid-Atlantic market manager for Ørsted, said. “Ørsted establishes multiple interconnection positions in the PJM queue as a matter of due diligence, and Bethany and Cedar Neck are two of its positions for the Skipjack Wind Farm.
“No decisions have been made on an alternative interconnection site at this time,” Walker said, adding, “Ørsted hopes to announce an alternative site in the coming weeks.”
PJM is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
The company declined to give any more details on the potential locations for an interconnection site in Delaware, but clarified that the location of an interconnection site only relates to where the wind-generated power would connect to a power grid, not necessarily where it would come ashore.
Ørsted announced on Friday, July 10, that it was dropping its controversial proposal to place an interconnect from its Skipjack wind farm at Fenwick Island State Park.
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, which would have been 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 was 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 that it was dropping the Fenwick proposal. “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 Walker in that July 10 announcement.
“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.”
This week, Walker confirmed for the Coastal Point that the two other local sites are on the list for a potential interconnection point.
In January 2020, the company noted, 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.