Offshore wind power draws mixed reviews Working group to submit recommendations to governor by Friday, Dec. 15
With two proposed offshore wind power projects approximately 20 miles from Delaware’s coastline, the state is going to be involved in the sustainable energy source. The question, at this point, is how involved?
Tasked with answering that question is the state’s Offshore Wind Working Group, which held the second of two public hearings Dec. 5 in the Lewes Public Library. The group is expected to make its recommendations on short- and long-term strategies for developing wind power and job opportunities to Gov. John Carney by Friday, Dec. 15.
In May, Maryland’s Public Service Commission announced it had awarded offshore wind renewable energy credits to two projects.
The larger of the two projects, U.S. Wind Inc., is expected to be located 12 to 15 nautical miles due east off the coast of Ocean City, and is projected to include 62 turbines and produce 248 megawatts a year. The estimated construction cost is $1.4 billion, and it has a projected operation date of January 2020.
The second project, under the name Skipjack Offshore Energy, is off Delaware’s coastline and operated by Deepwater Wind. The commission approved a 15-turbine, 120-megawatt producing wind farm.
The working group was created by Carney in August and began meeting in October. During the Lewes meeting, reaction to the state’s involvement was about a 50/50 split for and against.
Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, said the wind power will not reduce the state’s need for energy produced from power plants. On the coldest and hottest days, he said, there is no wind.
Using Fisker Automotive and Bloom Energy as examples, Collins also said the state has ventured into new energy technology before, without much success.
Bonnie Ram, a senior researcher at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, said she was in favor of wind turbines. Pointing to poultry, agriculture and tourism, Ram said Delaware has few industrial choices.
“What’s the next step,” she said. “I would encourage you to keep an open mind.”
One woman described herself as a futurist, and as such, she said, the state should not wait for the future, it should build the future.
“We want another industry,” she said. “This has got to happen.”
Former Sen. George Bunting spoke against future development of federally regulated waters. He said he was concerned about the 10-year life capacity of the turbines themselves and the potential of an accident caused by a shipping container hitting one of the turbines.
The state has preserved large portions of its coastline, Bunting said. All it would take is one accident, he said.
Bunting also said wind power technology is cost prohibitive. This is going to be a very expensive project, and in the long run, it’s going to cost more than the energy saved, said Bunting.
Charlie Garlow, representing the local branch of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, said he was in favor of wind power. It’s the best way to get good, clean energy, he said.
Briefing materials, public comments and additional resources on the working group can be found at de.gov/offshorewind.
For more information or to submit written comment, contact Tom Noyes, Division of Energy and Climate, at Thomas.Noyes@state.de.us or 302-735-3480.
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