Wind farm projects OK’d by PSC; Ocean City govt’s requests not included as conditions of commission’s approval
The two proposals to locate wind farms off the coast of Ocean City were approved this week, with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) announcing its decision Thursday morning.
The PSC’s conditional approval of projects by U.S Wind and Skipjack beat its May 17 deadline by a work week and includes none of the provisions advocated by the Ocean City mayor and City Council.
As proposed, the U.S. Wind project would be 12-15 nautical miles offshore, although the PSC did say it needs to be located as far east in the lease area as practical.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management determined the offshore areas that could be developed for wind energy, and Maryland’s lease area, as won by U.S. Wind is located to the east of the resort, from the Delaware line down south past the inlet.
The final location, PSC spokeswoman Tori Leonard said, is subject to federal review and would include public comment as part of the process.
“I’m not against wind energy, I just don’t want to see [turbines]. What I want to know is where exactly they’ll be,” Councilman Tony DeLuca said. “It’s all in estimations. One project [U.S. Wind] said they’d move back five miles, to 16 miles offshore, the other one 19 and a half. Neither one are committed to 26 miles offshore.”
DeLuca pushed for both projects to be located farther offshore during council sessions last month. The most recent letter the resort sent asked for U.S. Wind’s proposal to be located 23 miles offshore, and Skipjack’s proposal be moved to 26 miles offshore.
“I’m surprised and disappointed. I don’t think this is good for Ocean City. It’s going to negatively impact property values, especially on the oceanfront, and tourism. People don’t want to see these things when they’re sitting on the beach,” Councilman Matt James said.
Ocean City mayor Rick Meehan was unavailable for comment.
The U.S. Wind proposal calls for 62 turbines at a capacity of 248 megawatts and will connect to the grid at the Indian River substation.
Skipjack, the name of the project proposed by Deepwater Wind of Rhode Island, would involve 15 turbines situated 17-21 miles offshore. It would connect to the grid via the Ocean City substation. The proposed capacity is 120 megawatts.
Each project, according to a statement by PSC member Anthony O’Donnell, is required to use the best commercially available technology to lessen views of the wind turbines by residents and visitors.
Among the requirements are:
• The creation of 4,977 direct jobs during the development, construction and operating phases of the projects.
• The companies must pass 80 percent of any construction savings on to ratepayers and to make contributions of $6 million each to the Maryland Offshore Wind Business Development Fund.
• The companies also will be required to use port facilities in the Baltimore region and Ocean City for construction and operations and maintenance activities. The developers must invest collectively at least $76 million in a steel fabrication plant in Maryland and together fund at least $39.6 million to support port upgrades at the Tradepoint Atlantic, formerly Sparrows Point shipyard, in Baltimore County.
• Each company must notify the commission by May 25 whether it accepts the conditions of approval contained in the order.
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