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Science, Health, Tech

Ørsted backs out of building power facility on Fenwick Island

fenwick-island.jpg
Sophia Schmidt
/
Delaware Public Media

Renewable energy company Ørsted announced it’s not going to connect its offshore wind farm at Fenwick Island State Park. This means a loss of major park improvements as well.

The company stated a “more thorough evaluation” discovered a large area of undisturbed wetlands stood in the way of building an interconnection facility for its 120 mega-watt Skipjack Wind Farm off the coast of  Delaware and Maryand.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control stated previously it wouldn’t allow any park wetlands to be disturbed by the facility.  

DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin says the environment has always been a priority in the project.

“We have been very clear along the entire process that environmental concerns and impacts to the environment in the area would be first and foremost in the decisions that we would be making," said Garvin. "So that was a reflection of what we’ve said all along.”

Brady Walker, Mid-Atlantic Market Manager for Ørsted said in a statement, “Ørsted is committed to constructing the wind farm and associated infrastructure in a way that seeks to mitigate potential adverse impacts on local ecosystems and communities.”

Ørsted promised to fund $16 to $18 million worth of major improvements to the park, including new parking spaces, buildings and recreational areas as part of leasing the land to build its power facility.

During a public comment period earlier this year, over half of respondents said those plans didn’t fully address concerns over safety and traffic.

The Fenwick Island Town Council said it is pleased with Ørsted’s decision to back out. Both the council and members of the public had raised concerns about building such a facility in an environmentally sensitive area.

Fenwick Island Mayor Gene Langan said in a statement, “I am relieved to know that an environmentally sensitive area will be preserved and that Governor Carney, Secretary Garvin and Ørsted came to the same conclusion as Fenwick Island,” He said. “Fenwick Island will continue to advocate for environmental stewardship of our unspoiled beach, ocean and delicate ecosystem within our Town and the surrounding areas.  It is a precious resource.”

Ørsted says it is currently looking for a new location to build the facility on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.