Tradepoint Atlantic in Baltimore County will become the site of Maryland’s first offshore wind staging center thanks to a new partnership with Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind.
Both companies shared the announcement at a press conference Tuesday at the former Sparrows Point steel mill, which was acquired by Tradepoint for redevelopment into a distribution hub. Ørsted’s staging center plans to use 50 of the 3,300 acres to receive, assemble and transfer turbine components to build Skipjack Wind Farm, which is 19.5 miles off Maryland’s coast.
A staging area is a site with water access where shipping vessels can transport and deliver large turbine components for assembly before they are sent out to sea for installation. Ørsted’s partnership with Tradepoint will include strengthening ground bearing capacity at the port to allow heavy-lift cranes and specialized transporters to move wind turbine components, some weighing as much as 2,000 tons, from ships onto the Skipjack site.
Ørsted chief operating officer Claus Møller said the center will advance Ørsted’s efforts to create nearly 1,400 jobs across Maryland as part of the Skipjack site. Ørsted officials are still in the process of discussing the pay for these jobs and whether Ørsted or Tradepoint will be hiring these employees. The exact number of jobs for Tradepoint will be determined in the months ahead, but Ørsted officials said the Skipjack site will require 913 temporary jobs during development and construction and 484 permanent jobs during operation. Møller told The Baltimore Sun Ørsted’s $13.2 million investment at Tradepoint falls within its plans to invest $200 million into Maryland.
“We are priding ourselves at Ørsted in being a leader in offshore wind energy and we really see Maryland and the U.S. as critical to fulfilling that mission,” Møller said.
Maryland is one of the seven states Ørsted is working with along the northeast coast to provide clean energy to residents. These states plan to build more than 10 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030, Møller said, including enough capacity in Maryland to power 35,000 homes.
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Maryland’s Public Service Commission authorized the Skipjack project and awarded offshore wind renewable energy credits in 2017. Ørsted plans to begin construction by 2021 for Skipjack to be operational by 2022.
The partnership is expected to be “a major milestone” for Maryland’s workforce, Tradepoint chief commercial officer Kerry Doyle said. He also said this would bring new manufacturing jobs to Sparrows Point. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. called the partnership “special” to him because it would secure “a better future for this part of town.”
Olszewski, a Democrat, was raised in Dundalk and graduated from Sparrows Point High School in 2000, so he said he knows these jobs will be important for a region that’s experienced a lot of changes.
“Today is special because Tradepoint Atlantic and Ørsted are helping Baltimore County become a trailblazer for the future offshore wind projects in Maryland and beyond. It makes us the region’s logistics epicenter for offshore wind projects. That means jobs and it means innovation is coming here to Sparrows Point,” Olszewski said.
Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford even jokingly said the Sparrows Point site four years ago “looked like the scenes from the first Terminator movie.”
Olszewski, however, stressed Tradepoint will have 5,000 workers on site by this time next year. Tradepoint is expected to generate 11,000 permanent jobs, $2.9 billion in annual economic impact and add a percentage point to Maryland’s gross domestic product when fully redeveloped, according to company projections.
Rutherford, who said the partnership marks the “remarkable transformation of the Sparrows Point site,” said the state is willing to help train the workers for the partnership.