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Skipjack wind farm completion date pushed back by permitting delay

The Skipjack wind-farm project, which has met with opposition from coastal residents since it was announced last October, recently announced that federal permitting issues will cause a one-year delay in the project’s expected completion date.

The project, which would be located 19 miles off the Maryland-Delaware coast, would include 12 megawatt turbines that would be about 800 feet tall. The planned size of the turbines was increased last year; the larger turbines would mean that fewer are required to produce the same amount of power, according to officials from Orsted, the Danish renewable-power company behind the project.

“As the federal permitting timeline evolves, Ørsted is now receiving its federal Notice of Intent for the Skipjack Wind Farm later than originally anticipated,” a recent statement from the company read.

A Notice of Intent (NOI) is a communication issued by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) during the federal permitting process. The NOI announces BOEM’s intent to prepare an environmental impact statement regarding construction and operations plans submitted by Skipjack Offshore Wind LLC.

That permitting process is one of more than a dozen approvals the project needs to proceed, from federal and state agencies. Of those, BOEM takes the lead. As part of that process, BOEM seeks input from the public, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, as well as local and state agencies.

“Ørsted remains firmly committed to working with our federal partners to complete Skipjack and provide clean, reliable offshore wind energy to 35,000 homes in the Delmarva region,” the company’s statement said.

Orsted spokesman Henry Fawell said this week that Orsted still expects the NOI to be completed “this year.”

He also said he is not aware of the need for further public hearings on the project at this time. “BOEM hosts public information sessions as part of its permitting process, and that remains unchanged,” Fawell said. As for Delaware/DNREC, the Skipjack team remains fully committed to working with DNREC,” toward an agreement, he added.

In October 2019, DNREC and Orsted unveiled a proposal that would bring power cables ashore in Fenwick Island State Park and would include an $18 million package of improvements to the park, paid for by Orsted.

The improvements package includes expanded parking for the park, a new office building for the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce and a new office/meeting space for the park itself, as well as new amenities and walking trails. A transmission station would be built on the bay side of the park, where it would connect the cables to the local power grid.

In a recent interview with the Coastal Point, Gov. John Carney said he supports wind energy in general but that state regulatory issues regarding the project rest with the authority of DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin.

The Coastal Point reached out to DNREC for comment on the latest delay in the proposed project.

“DNREC has no comment,” said spokesman Michael Globetti.