One of the companies building an offshore wind farm off the coast of Ocean City has taken another step toward the project’s start.
US Wind, Inc. has entered into a contract with Gulf Island Fabrication, LLC for the procurement of a meteorological tower and support structure, according to a company release.
“This contract with Gulf Island Fabrication marks a significant milestone in US Wind’s aim to deliver the intended sustainable wind energy and job and economic benefits to the Maryland economy,” said Riccardo Toto, US Wind president and CEO.
“We are delighted to partner with highly-regarded Gulf Island Fabrication as we move further toward realizing this important project that will set a new standard in the United States for offshore wind energy generation.”
The meteorological structure will be built as a steel lattice tower and will be approximately 330 feet high, according to the release.
The supporting structure will be braced caisson consisting of a central monopole 72 inches thick for the portion under the mudline and 60 inches thick from the mudline to the deck.
Diagonal poles, which will be 5 feet in diameter, will provide additional stability, according to the release.
The braced caisson is based on the the Inward Battered Guide Structure, commonly known as the “Twisted Jacket.” The Inward Battered Guise Structure is patented by Keystone Engineering. This structure was first used by ExxonMobile in March 2005 off Louisiana, and it survived a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 with no structural damage, according to the release.
The structure is expected to sail from Houma, Louisiana, on July 7 and is scheduled for installation within the US Wind project site in August.
The move comes days after the Maryland General Assembly and the Maryland House’s Economic Matters committee gave an unfavorable report to legislation that would have pushed back the turbines to 26 miles offshore on March 12.
Existing regulation allows the structures to rise anywhere from 10-30 miles offshore along the Outer Continental Shelf.
In February, Ocean City’s Town Council, though, passed a resolution registering its opposition to “visible” offshore wind structure. Town officials and tourism industry representatives fear the sight of turbines on the horizon will deter visitors.
Under pressure from Ocean City, US Wind has agreed to push its turbines back from 12 to 17 miles from the shoreline.
But Mayor Rick Meehan and other town officials say the company isn’t legally bound to that promise, and its permits with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management can aloow it to erect turbines as close as 12.9 miles in future phases.
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