OCEAN CITY – The Town Council will get an update on a possible wind farm off Maryland’s shore at its work session this afternoon.
Dave Blazer, Maryland project director for Bluewater Wind, said the company is still putting together its proposal for a wind farm 12 miles from the Worcester County coast.
“You’ve got a clean, renewable energy source as opposed to burning some fossil fuel,” Blazer said. “This also is going to help water quality in the long run, I think.”
Bluewater Wind recently contracted to provide electricity from a 200-megawatt wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth Beach for distributor Delmarva Power after more than a year of tense fighting with the power company, which was unenthusiastic about the project and sought to purchase renewable energy from other firms. Involvement by Delaware’s legislature and regulatory agencies was necessary to bring the two companies to the negotiating table. Plan approval has a July 31 deadline from Delaware’s Public Service Commission.
Blazer said the proposed Maryland wind farm would generate 600 megawatts of power, three times as much as Bluewater’s turbines will produce in Delaware.
Wind farms generate electricity that can be pumped into the mid-Atlantic power grid through towering turbines able to withstand up to a Category 3 hurricane, Blazer said. Benefits of wind-based power include less air pollution, fewer carbon dioxide emissions and reduced reliance on coal burning for energy, he said.
Though a wind farm can be placed as close as three miles offshore, where federal waters begin, Blazer said Maryland’s will be 12-17 miles out. Problems arose with past wind parks, he said, when Massachusetts residents complained that wind farms were visible from their beaches.
The shape of the park itself hasn’t been determined, pending further geological studies, he said.
“A lot of those variables are there that have to be investigated. In Delaware, even with contract approval, it’s going to take about two years for that process before the turbines will be built,” Blazer said.
Bluewater is currently making applications and seeking permits from the state to tap into the power grid and build a meteorological tower to gather wind data. The 300-foot turbines are run by computers and are erected in ocean depths of 55-85 feet, Blazer said.
The federal Minerals Management Service recently unveiled 450 pages of proposed rules governing offshore wind farms, according to a recent report. No wind farms have yet been built off the U.S. coast – Delaware’s would be the first – and none can be placed in federal waters until the rules are enacted.
By Brian Shane
15 July 2008