Following Tuesday’s announcement Ørsted was pulling out of a billion-dollar New Jersey-based offshore wind project, speculation has increased about the future of Eastern Shore turbine construction.
What happened with wind projects in New Jersey?
In a statement this week, the company said it will cease development of the Ocean Wind 1 and 2 projects for supply chain issues, which were supposed to be built off the coast of Atlantic City. The developments were regarded as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s energy plan and have been plagued by concerns about impacts on ocean life and inconsistent timelines. Similar concerns have been raised about Eastern Shore projects.
The move was decided upon as a “consequence of additional supplier delays further impacting the project schedule and leading to an additional significant project delay,” the company wrote.
US Wind and Ørsted currently have federal leasing agreements to operate their fleet of turbines in the ocean between 15 to 21 miles off the coast of Maryland and Delaware. The Baltimore-based US Wind is considering properties in Ocean City for the maintenance and operations of the turbines that are scheduled to be operational by 2026.
Rep. Andy Harris doubles down on offshore wind opposition
Rep. Andy Harris, R-1st-Md., issued a new statement in opposition to offshore wind projects after the New Jersey news.
“Gov, Wes Moore should reconsider throwing good money at expensive offshore wind projects that may be causing the death and stranding of dozens of whales and marine mammals off the Atlantic Coast,” said Harris. “Instead of learning from the failed offshore wind projects in New Jersey, Gov. Moore is doubling down on additional offshore wind funding at a time when hardworking Marylanders are struggling with inflation and are already seeing increases in their electric rates.”
Harris further noted the “expensive, harmful offshore wind projects weren’t any good for New Jersey and they certainly won’t be any better for Maryland.”
Ørsted, US Wind issue statements on Maryland, Delaware projects
In a statement to Delmarva Now, Ørsted said New Jersey was the only location in which ig will cease development.
“Ørsted continues to develop Skipjack Wind and expects to have more clarity on its path forward as we continue discussions with stakeholders in Maryland and Delaware,” said Maddy Voytek, head of Government Affairs and Market Strategy for Maryland for the company.
Nancy Sopko, US Wind’s senior director of External Affairs, acknowledged both major offshore wind companies in the region have been impacted by financial and logical concerns.
“Global supply chain constraints, in addition to higher interest rates and inflation, are challenges facing every American industry, including offshore wind, and these are challenges we all have to address,” Sopko said. “US Wind passed a major milestone last month when the federal government released the draft environmental impact statement of our construction and operations plan. Our main focus now is to complete the permitting process in 2024 so we can move toward construction.”
Currently, the only turbine of its kind is located behind Crisfield’s wastewater treatment plant and was turned on in 2017. It has not been without its challenges – the turbine was struck by lightning in 2021 and cost the city thousands of dollars when the electrical parts needed for repair were shipped from Germany.
Gov. Moore: ‘Offshore wind energy production holds immense promise’
Gov. Moore has remained consistent with his support of offshore wind, with additional monies being set aside for its development as recently as Oct. 26 when it was announced that the Maryland Energy Administration will offer more than $6 million in Fiscal Year 24 funding through its Maryland Offshore Wind Grant Program Portfolio, designed to help Maryland’s emerging businesses and workforce get involved in the growing offshore wind industry.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Grant Program Portfolio is divided into two main programs: the Maryland Offshore Wind Supply Chain Investment Program, formerly known as the Capital Expenditure program, and the Maryland Offshore Wind Workforce and Education Program.
“Offshore wind energy production holds immense promise for Maryland, both in terms of the clean power it can produce and the well-paying jobs it stands to create,” said Gov. Moore in the Oct. 26 announcement.
“The Maryland Energy Administration is dedicated to promoting both the electricity and jobs generated by offshore wind development, and the expansion of the Maryland Offshore Wind Grant Program Portfolio underscores this dedication.”
The Maryland Energy Administration will provide funding up to 75% of total project costs, not to exceed $500,000, for applicants to develop and implement curriculum of new or existing offshore wind education programs.
Wind energy critics question inflation, supply chain issues
Still, detractors like state Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, R-Wicomico/Worcester/ Somerset, argue the cost of offshore wind has significantly risen from the originally proposed $1.4 billion project in 2017 to a projected $4 billion in 2023 due to inflation, supply chain constraints and other economic disruptions.
There is currently a 45-day public comment period on the draft statement started on Oct. 6 during which the public has an opportunity to submit written comments, attend in-person meetings, or two virtual meetings about the Ocean City development planned by US Wind.
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