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Wind energy company plans West Ocean City facility to serve offshore wind farm

Offshore wind farm developer Ørsted said Wednesday that it plans to build an emissions-free operations and maintenance facility in West Ocean City.

The Danish wind energy firm said the $20 million facility on Harbor Road will serve the first phase of Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind program, a 120-megawatt offshore wind energy project under development off the coast of Ocean City. The new facility will employ up to 110 people in temporary and permanent jobs.

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Skipjack Wind 1, which the company expects to complete by mid-2026, will produce enough electricity to power 40,000 homes in the region. It’s expected to generate $225 million in economic investment and create nearly 1,400 jobs statewide.

The operations facility will become the embarkation point for up to three zero-emissions crew transfer vessels that will service Skipjack Wind 1. It will include a warehouse and Ørsted’s Ocean City area office, housing wind turbine maintenance technicians, engineers and operations personnel.

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Maryland’s Public Service Commission approved the Skipjack 1 project in 2017.

Ørsted is proposing a second phase of the Skipjack project, 20 miles off the coast of Ocean City in a federally designated Wind Energy Area. Skipjack Wind 2, presented in August to the public service commission, 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.

In 2019, Ørsted launched an offshore wind staging center at Tradepoint Atlantic in Baltimore County.

The offshore wind energy industry is expected to create a strong jobs pipeline for lower-shore workers and small businesses, said Mike Dunn, president and CEO of the Greater Salisbury Committee.

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“Diversifying our workforce with good-paying jobs that service Skipjack Wind is huge for our region and our workers,” Dunn said.

But Ocean City residents, environmental groups and business people are split on proposals to expand wind farm development off the coast. Both Orsted and rival wind farm developer US Wind have submitted expansion proposals to the state.

During a hearing before the PSC last week, elected officials from the beach town reiterated long-held concerns about turbines ruining beachfront views, while environmentalists cheered the possibility of more investment in wind energy.

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