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A much bigger wind farm could be coming to the Delmarva coast

Delaware Public Media

The company developing a wind farm off the coast of southern Delaware and Maryland is hoping to start a second one. It could be several times the size of the first. 

Ørsted’s 120-megawatt Skipjack wind farm under development off the Delmarva coast is not expected to come online for another 5 years. But the Danish renewable energy company has already submitted a bid to the Maryland Public Service Commission to build Skipjack Wind 2. At 760 megawatts, more than six times the size of Skipjack 1, the proposed Skipjack Wind 2 could power up to 250,000 homes on the peninsula. 

The renewable energy credits from both projects would go to Maryland. But Ørsted’s Mid-Atlantic Market Manager Brady Walker said at a virtual open house Monday Delaware will still benefit—from things like a “supplier day” the company hosted in Bethany beach.

“That’s a great example of, whether it’s a small business or someone that wants to be employed or get otherwise involved in the industry, where you can come and meet our prime contractors and find out how you can bid for business and become part of the industry,” he said. 

At this point, Skipjack 2 is just a proposal.Walker told members of the public that its size is not set in stone.

“The Public Service Commission has discretion there in what the actual award looks like,” he said. “So when we talk about something as specific as the number of turbines for example, … we can’t really say what the number is just because we don’t have the award in hand.”

Walker says Skipjack 2 would likely be 15 to 16 miles from the closest points in Delaware, located in the same federal Wind Energy Area off the Delaware-Maryland coast as Skipjack 1.  

The company says there will be plenty of opportunities for public input and questions on Skipjack 2 if the proposal moves forward.

Meanwhile Ørsted is still looking for a place to connect Skipjack 1 to the electric grid. Last year the companydropped its plan to route through Fenwick Island State Park over environmental concerns.

The first Skipjack wind farm, approved in 2017, was proposed in response to Maryland’s Offshore Wind Act of 2013. The Skipjack Wind 2 bid is in response to the Maryland Public Service Commission’s request for proposals for Round 2 offshore wind projects, totalling at least 1,200 megawatts of Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credits. As proposed, Skipjack Wind 2 would fulfill the majority of these credits. 

This year the Delaware General Assembly voted to extend the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard—which sets yearly benchmarks for the amount of renewable energy credits Delmarva Power must acquire—to 40 percent by 2035.

The need to transition away from fossil fuel sources of electricity is apparent in low-lying Delaware, which is already seeing theeffects of sea level rise, caused in part by anthropogenic climate change.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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