- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Wind companies keep pushing on

Both US Wind and Deepwater Wind, the two companies working toward installing wind farms near Ocean City, and two local companies have made recent announcements about their ongoing efforts to support an offshore wind industry in Maryland.

Despite a budget amendment put forth by Rep. Andy Harris (R-1) on H.R. 3354, which funds the Department of the Interior among others for fiscal 2018, businesses are starting preparations for offshore wind. Harris’ amendment blocks funding for inspectors for offshore wind facilities less than 24 miles from the shoreline.

Without inspections, the facilities can’t begin power generation. Also, the leasing areas the wind companies spent millions to secure and defined by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management do not extend 24 miles offshore.

But, those inspections do not need to occur for another year, if not longer. In the meantime, both US Wind and Deepwater Wind have met with state and local authorities to discuss and progress their plans for wind farms off Maryland’s coast.

In addition, local companies are stepping up their own efforts to support the projects before the first turbine begins spinning, expected sometime in 2019.

The Martin Fish Company, which does business in Ocean City and New Jersey, recently received a $375,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration to support offshore wind.

Chris Shriver, general manager, said the money would be used to enhance every aspect of their dock off Harbor Road in West Ocean City.

“We’ll supply boat support for whatever is necessary, for whatever companies” that come along, he said. The grant must be used within two years, and Shriver said the company is examining its options to better serve both the commercial fishing industry and the workers or companies affiliated with offshore wind.

Improved amenities like increased office space for support staff and a staging area for maintenance or repair projects would likely be included, he said.

Similarly, Salisbury-based development firm Devreco also secured $100,000 in funding from the state to pursue similar aims.

“As the industry continues to evolve, we’re thankful to be part of it,” Brad Gillis, principal at Devreco, said.

Devreco plans to use the grant funds to plan, design, and permit the construction of offshore wind operations and maintenance centers in West Ocean City. When finished, these facilities could house up to two crew-transfer vessels each.

Gillis said he was still working with developers to determine what the exact needs of the industry would be.

US Wind announced its partnership with Devreco to operate one of these operations and maintenance centers in West Ocean City and a handling facility in Baltimore during testimony before the Finance Committee of the State Senate.

During his testimony, Paul Rich, director of project development at US Wind, also announced the creation of an Offshore Wind Industry Workforce Development Coalition to bring the offshore wind companies together with representatives of community colleges, universities, labor unions, minority and local small businesses to create a skilled workforce to support an offshore wind industry.

Deepwater wind hired Joy Weber, of Annapolis, and Whitney Fiore, from St. Michaels, to head up the development and environmental/permitting departments of the business.

“We’ve put together a first-rate team, led by Joy and Whitney, to put our plans for the Skipjack Wind Farm into high gear,” Jeffrey Grybowski, Deepwater Wind CEO, said. “Their expertise will help us launch Maryland’s offshore wind industry and bring affordable, clean energy to the Eastern Shore.”

Deepwater Wind has also assembled a local team of biologists, engineers, marine archaeologists and other researchers, led by Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.’s Laurel, Maryland office, to conduct the comprehensive marine and environmental assessments to support the project’s state and federal permitting.