Articles filed under Offshore Wind
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan called on the PSC to hold more evidentiary hearings to better understand the impact larger wind turbines would have on the town. U.S. Congressman Andy Harris, R-Md.-1 pointed out that nothing stops U.S. Wind from possibly building 12-megawatt wind turbines as close as 10 miles from shore. Harris went on to criticize the wind developers' decision to use larger wind turbines saying, “I would suggest that this is one of the most amazing cases of bait and switch that I’ve ever seen."
A standing room only crowd descended in Ocean City to hear and be heard on the issue of wind power off the coasts of Maryland and Delaware. The Ocean City Fire Department estimates there were 1,850 people in attendance.
It is part of a larger inquiry that will examine the decision by two prospective wind farm operations, Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind and U.S. Wind, to increase the size of their wind turbines, and its possible effects on Ocean City’s coastal aesthetic. Residents, visitors, proponents, opponents, city leaders and stakeholders will have the opportunity to voice their opinions at the hearing. City officials see this session as an opportunity to turn the tide on a project they contend will harm the resort’s economy.
The meeting came at the request of Rick Meehan, Ocean City mayor, after U.S. Wind, the company looking to build the turbines greatly increased the height of the structures to 853 feet. Meehan is concerned the size will ruin the view of the ocean, consequently hurting tourism and property values.
After two month-long extensions, the state closed public comment Jan. 15 on Ørsted’s controversial proposal to connect the company’s offshore wind farm to the electrical grid by passing through Fenwick Island State Park. The connection project was revealed in late September. In return for being allowed to connect the wind farm, Ørsted has proposed $18 million of improvements at the state park.
On the eve of the highly-anticipated public hearing on the increased height of the proposed offshore wind turbines off the resort coast, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) this week approved the town’s petition to intervene and also changed the hearing’s site within the convention center to accommodate the expected crowd.
Eighty-four percent of respondents to a survey on offshore wind are primarily opposed to two things, said the Caesar Rodney Institute's David Stevenson. "One is visible wind turbines off the shore, and the second is using Fenwick Island State Park as place for landfall for the transmission line,
The proposed Skipjack Wind Turbine project planned for Fenwick Island should be rejected. The wind turbines will spoil the current pristine views from the Delaware shoreline. Since these 850-foot monstrosities will be built only 17 miles from the coast, a substantial — over 400 feet — portion will be visible from the beach.
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance called for the creation of six travel lanes, each one four nautical miles in width, through the entire lease area off the coast of the two states. The offshore wind developers in November had proposed no special travel lanes, choosing instead to let fishermen navigate through turbines set one nautical mile apart traveling north and south and seven-tenths of a nautical mile going diagonally.
With regard to the proposed spacing of one nautical mile, the fishing group wrote, “RODA reiterates, consistent with each of our previous comments on the record, that most fishing vessels will not be able to operate in this array and significant displacement will still occur due to (one-nautical-mile) spacing.”
When it comes to discussions of the proposed offshore Skipjack Wind Farm and the related proposals to bring cables carrying the wind-generated power ashore at the Fenwick Island State Park, there seem to be two — maybe three — schools of thought, generally. The offshore wind farm, which would be the second in the United States and the largest so far in this country, is slated to be constructed about 19 miles off the coast of southern Delaware. Officials from the company that wants to build the turbines says they will be barely visible from the coast; opponents say otherwise.
Fred Rice, a retired representative from Hampton, called for the Hampton Beach Village District commissioners at their last meeting to oppose offshore wind, a proposal being examined by a newly formed three-state federal task force.
“The massive increase in the turbine size would profoundly change the Ocean City viewscape and create serious economic, natural and environmental harm to Ocean City and the surrounding environs,” the petition reads. “No other party in this matter can adequately represent Ocean City’s interests or express the impact that the use of supersized turbines will have on its viewscape and economy. Ocean City can provide relevant and material information concerning issues relative to the proceeding.”
The Maryland Public Service Commission has granted Ocean City’s petition request to review the new proposed turbine sizes for two wind energy projects that were approved in 2017. The Commission determined that the new larger turbines – which are nearly double the size proposed two years ago – constitute material changes to the original applications.
Two bird conservation groups sued the Energy Department and Army Corps of Engineers in an attempt to stop the development of a Lake Erie wind turbine farm about eight miles off the coast of Cleveland named “Icebreaker."
The Spanish utility’s Avangrid Inc. won an auction to develop the 804-megawatt wind farm in a joint venture with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. They plan to use a turbine of at least 14 megawatts, larger than anything now available, said Jonathan Cole, Iberdrola’s head of offshore wind.
In a written statement Thursday, Vitale said it's common for renewable energy projects to be delayed. Those delays, he said, could be for a number of reasons, most related to the permitting process. In this case, Vitale didn't provide a specific reason for the delay. "While originally we were hoping to achieve the OCD (Commercial Operation Date) by 2021, we must note that we are still well on track to complete the project in the timeframe imposed by the Maryland Public Service Commission of 2025," Vitale said.
Bosman told the WindEurope Offshore industry conference in Copenhagen that offshore wind experienced 256 high-potential incidents – with the possibility of death or life-changing industry – in 2018. “Only luck stood between something worse happening,” she said. Wind at sea’s rate of total recordable incidents was 4.55 per million hours worked, compared to 0.9 per million in oil & gas, she added.
The Orsted executive stressed that the developer is in favour of local content and other added value, but the focus should be on planning regionally rather than “state by state or even city by city sometimes”. Local content is increasingly emerging as a potential headache for offshore wind as it expands around the world, with policymakers anxious not to be seen missing out on an industrial bounty.
It is uncertain what steps the PSC will take next, although the state agency does have the authority to rescind the original approvals or amend them. In an official filing outlining the re-opening of the public comment period, the PSC said filings earlier this fall made it clear both companies are moving toward the larger turbines. It’s important to note the PSC approval was based on the “best available technology” when the ORECs were awarded and in the years since, technological advances have significantly increased the size of the proposed turbines.