Offshore wind farm developer Ørsted wants to develop a second phase of its project off the coast of Ocean City, possibly competing with a proposal by US Wind that was unveiled earlier this month.
Ørsted’s proposed Skipjack Wind 2, described during a hearing this week before state regulators, would generate 760 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 250,000 homes on the Delmarva peninsula. The project would create 1,000 permanent jobs and include developing a new cable manufacturing plant in Sparrows Point.
The wind farm would be built 20 miles off the coast of Ocean City in a federally-designated Wind Energy Area, where the company expects to complete the first phase, Skipjack Wind 1, by mid-2026. That 120-megawatt project will generate electricity for 40,000 homes in the region.
Skipjack Offshore Energy, an Ørsted subsidiary, submitted its proposal in response to the Maryland Public Service Commission’s request for bids for a second round of offshore wind projects. The commission can award at least 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind renewable energy credits during the current second round.
“As the owner and operator of our offshore wind assets ... Skipjack is poised to be long term partners with the state of Maryland and an integral part of the growing offshore wind economy serving the state for decades to come,” said David Hardy, Ørsted’s president and CEO, during the hearing.
US Wind, the Baltimore-based subsidiary of Italian renewable energy firm Renexia SpA, also submitted a wind farm expansion bid to the PSC, seeking to win approval for a 1,200-megawatt project. As part of its proposal, US Wind said earlier this month it plans to bring steel production back to Sparrows Point, where it would establish a manufacturing hub to serve the growing wind energy industry.
US Wind, which holds lease rights to an 80,000 acre area 13 miles off the Ocean City coast, has been working on its first phase, MarWin, which includes building 22 turbines about 17 miles from shore.
US Wind’s proposal to the commission outlines plans for “Momentum Wind,” which would be four times as large as the first phase, with 82 turbines when built out by 2028. It is the biggest wind energy project ever proposed in Maryland. US Wind’s projects combined would generate 1,500 megawatts of energy, or enough electricity to power more than half a million homes, the company said.
As part of its review, the Public Service Commission will consider the impacts of costs to ratepayers and potential changes to the region’s energy market prices, said Tori Leonard, a commission spokeswoman. Commissioners also will take into account the economic, environmental and health benefits to the state and commitments to engaging local, small and diverse businesses, she said.
Maryland is pursuing renewable energy projects as part of a mandate, included in the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2019, requiring half of the state’s energy to come from sources such as wind or solar power by 2030.
Both Ørsted and U.S. Wind have proposed manufacturing components to be located at Tradepoint Atlantic, a 3,300-acre logistics center in Baltimore County, that would serve each company’s projects as well as energy projects along the East Coast.
Ørsted said it’s committing to “significant manufacturing operations that will enable the state to establish itself as a significant player in the offshore wind supply chain.”
Ørsted plans $400 million in capital investments in the state, spending more than $140 million to build the state’s first array cable factory in partnership with Hellenic Cables. The partners plan to start building a 520,000-square-foot facility next year at Tradepoint Atlantic that would employ 300 people and supply current and future wind projects in the state.
Ørsted also plans to invest $10 million to develop a STEM-focused scholarship program in Maryland’s local school systems and universities. The investment would allow students interested in offshore wind industry careers to pursue a higher education with a chance to work for Skipjack upon graduation.
The energy company said it plans to work with labor unions to find employees. And it has committed to helping to establish a platform supply vessel operator in Maryland to serve the East Coast wind industry. Such vessels transport supplies offshore and are used in construction and operation of offshore wind facilities.
The commission will hold virtual public hearings on the wind power proposals at the end of September and must issue a decision by Dec. 18. The commissioners could approve more than one project.
Earlier this month, the town of Ocean City filed a petition with the commission asking that the resort town be recognized as having a stake in the outcome of the case.
“This matter involves issues of paramount importance to the Town of Ocean City, as it will be directly affected by the decision and has a direct interest in the proceeding,” the town’s petition to intervene said.
The filing noted that nearly all of Ocean City’s commercial and residential property “has been attracted by the iconic waterfront resort town.”